by David Whyte
The day started with a flurry of gulls
and a single cry, as if I had spoken
and out of the deep cave where my tongue lies
birds were scattering in an open sky.
I went to the rail and watched them rise
over the grey clouds as if the sky were a sea
and the sea was cold now, full of shapes
and the horse-tails of winter.
And I spoke, involuntary
out of a delighted mouth
the old, strange word
Ireland; joy when uttered, grief when heard.
Painting by Anna Elizabeth Blunden, 1854.
Purportedly, the image was inspired by the poem, “Song of the Shirt” by Hood.
Listening to this * yesterday got me remembering the Irish belief that the Other World can be accessed through ‘thin places’ in our world. Thin places are places of transition, or inbetween times.
On this point, from Fire in the Head**:
“For Irish poets, the edge of water — where bank meets river or shore meets sea — is a place of wisdom, enlightenment, and mystical knowledge. Water, fog, mist, and dew have long fascinated the Irish, possibly because the island nation is surrounded by the sea… But any edge or border between elemental realms, any liminal zone between two complementary terrains, or a place where opposites meet is, in the Celtic imagination, a place filled with magic.”
Here is a sampling of ‘Edge Pictures’, some of place, others of time, and a few of both.
New Hampshire, The Flume
Shaker Workshop, Arlington, Mass.
* (Krista Tippett talking about her grandfather and faith on “The Moth”. Her website is onbeing.com).
** Fire in the Head, Shamanism and the Celtic Spirit, by Tom Cowan
1. driftwood, 2. Buddha at Ayutthaya, Thailand, 3. I’ve been everywhere, man, 4. Nuts to This, 5. Fabric House Brooches, 6. Untitled, 7. Untitled, 8. Takeoff, 9. How to love 1, 10. House in Azeitão, 11. IMG_7374, 12. Untitled, 13. spiderboytwo, 14. flip, 15. Hallowe’en exuberance, 16. windowlace with faux cat, 17. one way of seeing cypress knees, 18. IMG_8514, 19. winter morning, 20. squirrelita
museum in Montreal
You probably didn’t know this about me, but I’m somewhat of a salad genius. I know it’s not that unique a thing — I can name at least two OTHER geniuses off the top of my head, without even thinking that hard. Nevertheless, I’ve decided to start sharing some of these combos. Today seemed like a good day to start, if for no other reason than I am craving the color green (need I write? it’s snowing again . . .)
Cabbage and Parsley Salad
Serves four as a side; two as a main course
I like to use parsley as a green in the winter. In addition to being a good source of Vitamin C, it’s pretty. Cabbage adds a tangy contrast to the lettuce and if you use a mandolin to slice it, you’ll get an especially thin ribbon. Most of my celery tops go straight into the freezer for eventual use in stock production, but here they are chopped in with the parsley.
Bowlful of iceberg lettuce
Handful of grape tomatoes, sliced in half
Handful of black olives
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped parsley and celery tops, mixed
Wedge of cabbage, sliced thin
Vinaigrette (1/4 c olive oil; 1/4 c white vinegar; 1 T mustard, chopped garlic and salt and pepper)
Celery tops add a refreshing piquancy.
When paired with red quinoa and a batch of sauteed peppers, onions, and zucchini — a very satisfying winter meal!
For the first winter that I can EVER remember, New Englanders are uniformly complaining about the weather. The more usual head-shaking about changeability of the sky or stoic shrugs have given way to groaning.
Snow has relentlessly fallen every few days – or at least it feels that way. With each accumulation comes heavy lifting, re-arranged schedules, worry about roads and rooves. I have been living on my heating pad.
A friend of my brother-in-law died of a heart attack shoveling. Last night, there was news about two calamitous building collapses. Up in Salem, my sister’s building keeps producing lethal icicles, four feet long, two stories up, directly above her walkway.
This week found both K and me out on the roof, chipping, sweeping, scraping, and chiseling. The guy at the hardware store joked about using an acetylene blow torch. I laughed, but kind of wondered whether it might work — water was coming in through our kitchen ceiling, and nothing to that point had yet stopped it. Thankfully, the ice melt that I bought worked. I flung an entire box up into the valley where two parts of our house meet. Within hours, I could put away the pots that had been on the floor catching water.
I took comfort in knowing that were the ceiling to cave in, it would invariably happen when my husband was in Korea or Russia, and he was home (though he was NOT here when that awful slush and frozen rock-like stuff had to be moved around).
And, now it is supposed to rain and I find myself wondering, “What will THAT do?!” I am driving to Maine today to help celebrate a friend’s birthday. Wish me luck!! I hope the freezing rain has come, melted, and gone. In the meantime, I am loving the squirrels who visit our deck.
This page* asked, “Will you celebrate your heritage?”
I’ve been thinking about ancestors lately, and the things they do or do not leave behind. The eighteenth anniversary of my mother’s death just came and went.
The ship shown above the rooflines above is a photo of the very vessel that transported my mother’s father, Albert Victor Jacques, from Hartlepool to New York. It arrived in this country on November 1, 1923, and he was 25 years old.
I am also wondering about how to collect these small shards of history and their images, if any, to pass them along. Here? In a private blog? On a thumb drive, and if so, what format? Anyone else tackling this?
Oh. And, it’s snowing again.
* Another two pages from Sketchbook Project, “It’s Not About Me – Questions for a Nineteen Year Old.” The entire book is pictured in the Arthouse Coop Digital Library, here.