Monday, 31 December 2012

What's Another Year?

Journey's End 2012 -
try to keep within the speed limit!
It's the night before the page is turned and lifted on the 2013 calendar. The year we called 2012 is done and dusted, and while it can be a drag to dwell on what is passed - it's good to reflect on the highs and lows, and the lessons learned along the way. Maybe even the lessons ignored that we - inevitably - will face again once we are better able to take them on board. 

The year started fairly quiet for the folk of Holly cottage. The day job always kicks into extra high gear in early January and the delights of budgets and five year plans always seem to crush any pleasures save for the thrill of a lie in at the weekend, a bit of digging in the garden in winter sunshine and maybe even a trip to the cinema. I took the plunge last January and signed myself up for a creative writing course under the tutelage of Adam Wyeth - a poet based in West Cork and part of the Creative writing Ink initiative set up by Olive O'Brien. It was a great way to spend the dark winter nights - lots of weekly assignments and critique of my own writings. Plenty of lessons learned there and plenty to make the winter nights more meaningful that switching the tv on - highly recommended even you are only half interested in writing. It definitely revealed some of the cliches and pitfalls of writing creatively and thereby failing miserably. 

By March we had almost everything planted in the Holly Cottage garden - early spuds were in and onion sets were in the ground. Beans were sprouted and getting ready for the outdoors. By Easter time we had carrots, parsnips, beetroot, peas, beans, salads and seedlings in the greenhouse for tomato, cucumber, broccoli and brussels sprouts. It was all going great and we even had a week of summer in April. That was until the rain fell. From once it started to fall - it seems to me that time stood still in the garden from April to July - nothing seemed to advance or grow - except for the thriving slug population of course. It was a difficult summer, especially after three not so good ones before it. Worrying trend indeed. 

Picnic Basket's solo outing -
2012 Fungarvan
We managed to make the most of the one very sunny weekend in May - the jeep was loaded and we set off for the bright lights of Dungarvan (also christened Fungarvan after our antics there) in County Waterford. Dog was abandoned to minders so it was a puppy free and adult only weekend. Nice. This part of the country has so much to offer. We hadn't enough time to eat in every restaurant but those we did manage - Merry's and the Indian Ocean restaurant were absolutely superb and we are planning a return to the acclaimed Tannery as soon as the sun pokes it's head out the clouds and we rebuild the travel budget ;) It has a magic all of it's own - very different from the wilds of the west and calmer, yet no less seductive in its own way. We will be back ;)

In June it rained, rained and rained some more. Even in Sweden ;) Getting off the plane in Stockholm for a bit of a work thing I had dressed for sun and long lit Swedish midsummer nights - only to be met by the coldest weather recorded in a Stockholm summer. Hmm. Noticing a trend? When I got back to Ireland it was more of the same. A few days in June in the university city of Bangor (Wales) and a short day in August in Giessen in Germany proved a bit better, but not much. All over Europe and the planet Earth there were unsettling weather trends - the like not experienced before for the time of year and very unexpected. This causes problems. A wider trend then than just for poor ol' wet and soggy Ire-Land. 
Sunset on the Telford Bridge
June in Bangor Wales

And so the summer passed. I do recall that hat and gloves were required while walking the bogs in Mayo in August. And I do remember not being able to wear anything but wellies on our muddy walks through Charleville Castle woods. It was pretty miserable but we made it through - just about. Lots of Irish farmers were to the pin of their collars trying to get crops in those few good days in September and plenty was left in the field to rot. It's sad to watch crops abandoned to the wet and the mud. Something we may have to start planning for in the coming years though as the wet weather in summer seems to be showing every sign of becoming a long term trend. 

We did manage to get some sun on our toes though - remember swimming with the turtles? And all the lovely days and evenings spent hanging with the cousins watching the sunset in Barbados? If I close my eyes and concentrate I am back in Bathsheba treading my toes in the restless Atlantic foam. Home from home indeed. 

That led us to the autumn and lots of kicking of leaves in the autumn clad wood. A trip to Austria was the tonic for a yogini in need of refreshing her teaching skills; and then a December of music recording to flex the creative forces and divert the gaze from the dark and cold outside was another seasonal tonic.    

September in the Nephin Valley Mayo - Nice ;)
Sometimes I wonder how we manage to pack so much into the year - but we all do it. Look back on your own year and a whole gallery of faces and places, conversations - inner and outer - flash by. Sometimes the memory is to the fore - etched forever on the brain, like a tattoo that forms from the strength and intensity of that experience. Like watching the sunrise over the cliffs in Dungarvan that May Sunday morning or the sight of the city lights as I flew (Aerlingus of course - my superpowers not that well developed yet) over Britain in the darkness of November. Things that stay with us, that change us, that mould us. A phrase from an article, a funny picture on Facebook or an inspiring quote from Kahlil Gibran. All contributing to our own evolution. One thing's for sure we are not the same as we were when we started the journey last January 1st. 

And what for 2013? Plenty of hope, plenty of courage and plenty of gratitude for this precious life,  for what has past and what is sure to come. 

Happy New Year !

By the way - check out the youtube clip of Johnny Logan singing What's Another Year - it's a classic! Skip the first minute commentary though...

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