Our time in Cushendall has been very full! I took a few minutes today just to sit and do nothing while waiting for the laundry to be delivered, and it occurred to me that I have had very few unoccupied moments. My mom suggested I write a diary every day, which is a great idea– but when??? I hope to write when we get home before too many memories have faded.
Tonight Anda is doing portraits at a wedding, Ben has a session at Johnny Joe’s, and Brian and I expect to trek a bit out of town for a party before heading back into town to the pub. The day was spent doing “serious filming”– more later.
With luck, I’ll be able to assemble my book this weekend! As Brian says, “Done is good.”
We have a checkered flag flying in the tower window in support of the local hurling team. Brian was given a new jacket, as he plans on going with others to Belfast on Sunday to support the team. I hear firecrackers now. Hurling is quite the thing here!
Love to all, and thank you for your loving support!
The perfect last picture for the book is of Tiveragh, the fairy hill. The “wee folk” are reputed to appear there from time to time, but especially on Halloween. Brian and I had hiked up the road out of town from the tower to the Cottage Wood. Brian thought the view would be good from there, and it was close to home in case of a change in the weather. As luck would have it, Ben appeared and told me that there was a good view of the fairy hill just a little farther up the road. Brian kept me company as I sat on my art supply box in a cattle gate pull-off on the side of the road to draw. The next day I returned on my own to complete the picture. It seemed to me that the hill did indeed have an unearthly quality, which I hope comes through in the drawing. (Recommended reading– Meeting the Other Crowd: The Fairy Stories of Hidden Ireland by Eddie Lenihan and Carolyn Eve Green)
The sun rises over the rooftops as we watch from the third floor window of the tower.
Great fun!!!!!!!!!! More to come!
We arrived after a long drive into County Tyrone, with our new friend Zippie as our driver. The Beaghmore Stone Circles are a sacred site dated 1200-800 BC. They may be ancient, but they have the strong quality of being alive.
Anda draws while the rest of us circle round amongst the stones.
Pictures speak louder than words in this case!
The smoke is from a peat fire. Home is the tower, which is directly downhill from the fairy hill… hmmm.
Ben and Brian hiked in the mist and were rewarded with a panorama of Cushendall, the sea, and a rainbow. Ben called from the summit and asked me to look for them from the tower window. I scanned the ridge and finally saw two tiny sticks. When Ben squatted, one stick disappeared, so I knew it was them up there.
Here I am drawing my 30th and last picture. Hooray! And the fairy hill was the perfect place to end the book, which I will assemble in the next couple days.
Crows fly under the full moon as we look out from the third floor tower window.
I’m pretty convinced by now that there is no limit to the fecundity of this part of the planet. No matter how small or how sweeping the focus, all of the senses– gross to subtle– keep unfolding more treasures, happily finding residence in the heart. For me, coming home to the Heart is what Ireland is all about.
Anda and I spent a couple hours on the beach yesterday afternoon, sewing and drawing, respectively. It was gloriously sunny. Today we walked out the road just a wee bit so that we could look down through the pastures to the church and then up into the high pastures that hold the town within them like a cup brimming with vitality. Crows soared overhead and the smell of peat drifted through the air.
Anda has the highest floor of the tower as her private domain. It is far removed from the noise and hustle of the streets below. However, as the hurricane sweeps through north and west, the windows rattle a brisk beat that keeps her fingers moving.
Johnny Joe’s Pub is the place to be for those who love traditional Irish music. While Ben plays his flute with the local musicians, Anda draws portraits of and for gracious and friendly pub-goers who are unable to cram themselves into the tiny room that pulsates with music.
At the bottom of the tower, Irish tunes resound, thanks to Ben’s being welcomed into the Cushendall music scene. After this one was over, Ben headed off to Johnny Joe’s with the retirees who didn’t have to get up and go to work early in the morning.
I had the strong wish to spend time by the Dall River that flows through Cushendall. I had already spent a little time there and had seen a fish jump, a duck ride the current, and a muskrat disappear into a hole in the rocks. While I was drawing I saw a man fishing on the other side, hidden in the shadows. The waters are the color of clear tea and the steady flow drew me in and gave me the sense that watching the river would lead me to some secret places inside myself.
I knew I would draw another scene and overlap it with the river, but I didn’t know what it would be. I ended up in the highest room of the tower, looking out the window onto the chimneys, the street below, and the sweep of ascending pastures that lead to the summit of Mount Lurig. (The “bush” in the upper left is actually a cow.)
I had begun with two circles, which didn’t seem to contribute to what ended up looking like a flood of the town. I was inspired to put flames around the circles, and this seemed to pull it all together.
Doing this drawing has helped me to feel connected to this place in my blood and bones. Perhaps the picture reflects how I am overflowing with gratitude for being here in this magical, vital place– a place filled with people that have truly golden hearts.