A place for dishevelled thoughts of tangled webs
Seeking endings for their mind’s snagged cordage,
As it flicks up each frayed memory,
And watches old thoughts passing
Like ships ridged and battered. Later,
With rest and quiet, when all insides, unlocks
And brings in light from sea-washed pebbles,
No longer bound and stranded, nailed to the mast
In the dark, they’d learnt to live by.
Coming back at the end of the afternoon, from the topmost field by the coppice wood, riding a small tractor with a swaying trailer hitched. Rolling and bumping along the old road full of wood, just collected ready to be cut and stowed for winter fires. One small dog beside me on the passenger seat, and two dogs following quietly skirting the grass margins sniffing clumps of wild plants.
As I round the bend I feel the weight of load, lurch with gravity, and my motion against the earth’s vast globular body, and clasp the wheel more firmly to keep my balance. It is at this place that I often locate the young Merlin bird and intuit a felt sense of him hiding behind the lichen covered rock, or to the side of trees, waiting for me at this point. It’s through the sense presence that this creature touches me. Now he’s visible to my gaze through the wing mirror, perched behind me as I watch it playfully weave between the alder and pines, then fly ahead of me up the hill to the old barn, swooping and almost brushing the hedges with his tail. We learn from each other, in a heart opening balletic dance, leading me home in a magnetic pull, pass the field of overgrown wild flowers and along the slow curving boreen and down to Blind harbour, where the Heron, hunched, sits on my wooden boat puffed out like blown glass, translucent blue ready to dive, alert for vibrations in the water, to crane and strike, in that moment to become oceanic and emerge engorged with fish!
A few minutes later, I’m through a threshold in a bouldered ditch and backing up into a shed to unload, pull the hand brake and stop. I step out of the high plastic leggings, an old jacket and hat, into an open area after scattering feed for the chickens, not forgetting to count them and keep half an eye in keen sight, for the fox, who comes to snatch and claim them, anytime in the day and night.
The next morning a mist lies over the small holding, nestled in the valley, covering gardens, fields, a stable and hen houses, in one long sprawling carpet, and distant Islands out to sea. Soon it begins to lift slowly as the sun starts to rise like shutters being put up. The songs of birds gets louder and draws every other creature out of sleep.
Daily multi tasking and tending of this small sustainable farm has gone on for about forty years, that my parent’s had provided as a place for friends, family and people who needed solace and recovery of spirit, in mind and body. My mother met them in their distress, or depressed state. Many were people who had worked for way too long, without a break helping the sick and needy in their suffering, desperately needing time out, for themselves, just to sit or walk in nature and glad of it when it came, gradually coming back into a world of colour and to their old selves.
Today the Steading opens its doors to Woofer’s from all the four corners. Everything is on a small scale in a way of creating a world of differences by making yourself feel at home in yourself through growing vegetables, pruning plants, chopping trees and replanting, as part of exposing an inner landscape of a paring down, leaving a silence between two heart beats.