Monday, July 9, 2018

My Heart's in the Highlands

Farewell to the Highlands, farewell to the North,
The birth-place of Valour, the country of Worth;
Wherever I wander, wherever I rove,
The hills of the Highlands for ever I love. 

My heart's in the Highlands, my heart is not here,
My heart's in the Highlands, a-chasing the deer;
Chasing the wild-deer, and following the roe,
My heart's in the Highlands, wherever I go.

Farewell to the mountains, high-cover'd with snow,
Farewell to the straths and green vallies below;
Farewell to the forests and wild-hanging woods,
Farewell to the torrents and loud-pouring floods.
My heart's in the Highlands,

-Robert Burns

I've recently returned from the very heart or the Scottish Highlands, an absolutely stunning landascape as sublime as it is romantic. I love the diversity of the landscape, the personality of each mountain range, each soft valley.  Hover photos for caption.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Back From Beyond

Huntingtower Castle, Perth, Scotland

Just back from an epic ramble across Scotland, in full bloom, under sunny clear blue skies, walking ramparts of bygone eras, through ancient woodlands. I'll be sharing more here soon. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Happy May Day

Happy May Day! Spring has finally blossomed here, though on the ancient Irish wheel of the year today marks the beginning of summer,  as we cross over to the light, sunny, fecund and green part of the year. To celebrate, look back at some May Day posts from here and there (links below) exploring the ancient and enduring festival of Beltane and May Day customs in Celtic lands.

Also, enjoy the many sales going on in The Emerald Post Shop. But if you do nothing else today - Go outside! Enjoy the birds, blooms, breeze and the ever greening world. 

Beltane - May Day Parcel - now only $6

Monday, April 23, 2018

Dare to be Wild

Plan Sketch for the Mary Reynolds' Celtic Sanctuary
While there is one designated "day" to celebrate Earth (it was yesterday), Earth is obviously something that should be celebrated "daily." Celebration of the wonders of the natural world, our planet, our home, and even just your neck of the woods is something that gives greater meaning to one's life. It is something everyone should take part in.

For Mary Reynolds, an Irish visionary of the Natural Realm, celebrating the wild and raw side of mother nature is her life's work. I learned of Mary's work in a film that just recently popped up on Netflix (though the film is from 2015). Having an affinity for both nature and Ireland, I watched it and loved it. "Dare to be Wild" is the true story of Mary Reynolds and her somewhat anti-garden that won, against all odds, the prestigious Chelsea Flower Show. It's not a film about flowers or gardening or accolades but a film about the magic of nature and wild places and Mary's passion to instill that in others. 

Mary is actually not a proponent of what most of us call flower gardens. They are actually unnatural things (ever wonder why so many things we plant fail miserably.....?). She urges us to be inspired by the wild places of untouched wilderness around us, to protect these places, to make new places of wilderness. They are often much more moving and inspirational (not to mention important to ecosystems and habitat) than manicured lawns and color coded flower beds. Wild places are those places, often found in youth, often by accident that feel otherworldly because they are. They weren't made by man but by the spirit of the Earth, by whatever name you call it. They awe us, inspire us, bewitch us. So, by all means, get out there, knee deep in wonderful weeds (they are wildflowers!) and be enchanted by some wild places. 

Mary's Garden - The Celtic Sanctuary that won the Chelsea Flower Show. 
If you are so inclined, Mary's also written a book - The Garden Awakening which offers ways to create a wild garden in harmony with the Earth. 

Also HERE is a podcast with Mary Reynolds, interviewed by Mindie Burgoyne of Thin Places Ireland.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Irish Spring

A little bit of color while Old Man Winter makes one more visit to the Midwest. I plucked these blooms to save them from the cold and nestled them into an Irish tea tin I brought back from travels a few years back. 

Monday, April 2, 2018

The Secret of Kells

Blog of Kells
Arguably one of Ireland's greatest treasures, the 9th century illuminated manuscript, The Book Of Kells, is an ornately decorated edition of the four Gospels in Latin. Highly skilled scribes produced a book so full of vibrantly colored inks and stunning gold leaf that it is still an object of beauty and awe after so many years. It also illustrates the convergence of Christianity with the culture of Ireland, which you can see by the use of Irish motifs like knotwork interlacing, spirals, and zoomorphic designs. It is on display (well, two pages of it at a time) at Trinity College Dublin. After all these years it is still a source of inspiration.

Created in 2009, the Irish animated film, The Secret of Kells, tells the story of the famed book. It also displays a vibrant tapestry of Irish Christianity and ancient customs that have endured in Ireland. It tells the story of the creation of the Book of Kells through Brendan, a young monk living at the Abbey of Kells. It is a charming, historical, yet highly creative look at medieval Ireland and the story behind one of the most famous books in the world. The stunning animation mimics the artistry of the Book of Kells, with spirals, knotwork, arches, and mystery. And true to the culture of Ireland, it also intertwines the ancient ways and beliefs of Ireland by way of mystical woodlands and mythical creatures. It has the essence of a fairy tale but so much more. If you've yet to see this stellar film it is surely worth watching for the knowledge it provides, the mesmerizing artistry, and the magic that Ireland does so well.