My Summer holidays started properly on Monday and I’ve had an absolutely brilliant time this week, rambling and exploring the Fermanagh landscape in all its sunny glory. My brother and sister attended a football camp and I had the chance, for this week only, to have some really special time with my parents.
We explored the foothills of Cuilcagh and Benaughlin Mountains and we saw some really wonderful sights. It’s so much quitter when it was just the three of us and I was really able to focus in, with great acuteness and much less distraction. Sometimes, I do find my self wishing for the days when I can properly explore on my own but I know too that I would miss the fun we all have and the adventures that we can make happen out of thin air. A balance of both is perhaps the way to go. I have been reading Laurie Lee recently and have to say, the lure of just walking out the door, for miles and miles, days and days, is something that I know I will love when I’m older. Walking is good for the mind and good for the soul. When I can, I do a lot of thinking and processing when I walk – you might think I’m too young for such intense inward thinking, but if you lived inside my brain and experienced the world as I do (think smells and sounds amplified constantly and quite overwhelming sensory ‘issues’) – you’d need a lot of thoughtful reflection too!
The view to Benaughlin from below
Well, back to this week! The sun shone practically every day and the depth of intoxicating scent from the wildflowers have been welcomingly clinging to us. Balmy, still days… (or at least mornings without the rest of the gang) and when on our walks the only sound was of droning bees, heckling Ravens and whistling Meadow Pipits. It all felt so dazed and lazy after the manic of school and everything else that came with June. Apart from the Cuilcagh Mountain path, which is almost unbearably busy these day (well I can’t complain about that really) we hardly met a sinner on the roads. Part of the beauty of many parts of Fermanagh, is the fact that it is largely unspoilt and free of humans, especially on week days.
I came across some beautiful botanical specimens, including a very interesting four leaved (they normally have five) Slender St John’s Wort (Hypericum pulchrum) or in Irish – Beathnua baineann. In Ireland it was believed to have very powerful influence over demons and evil. It was traditionally gathered on St John’s eve (23rd June) when it was hung in bunches and scattered on windowsills to protect the inhabitants from harm. It is truly a very beautiful plant and it was just growing on the roadside among the rocks.
We also saw on our walks, Common Centuary (associated with the centaur Chiron who in Greek Mythology is known for his skill in medicinal herbs) and Bog Asphodel (known as bone breaker due to the belief among farmers that it gave their sheep foot rot – not true of course!) Both very beautiful plants.
The sound of Ravens followed us on our journeys, companions from another world, reminding us that there is still wildness and we’d better pay heed to the call of the earth; for nature is being pushed to the edges of humanity for the purpose of walking and gazing on a day out, not for any meaningful connection. Harsh views. I know a lot of work is being done but it’s crazily noticeable the amount of people who don’t know or care what they are looking at, or how we are intertwined with everything. I’m not talking airy fairy here, I’m talking scientifically. I think everybody needs to really listen to what they are hearing, for they will certainly notice the silence more, if it comes. Maybe they won’t, we seem to be doing a pretty good job of ignoring the many messages nature is sending us through climate change.
We also saw a cool rove beetle on the grey gravel, Staphylinus dimidiaticornis. It’s amazing what you see, when you atune your eyes to what’s around you. This particular species is in decline and apparently it mimics the Digger Wasp it was a pretty cool specimen and a very fast mover.
As I walked the paths, listening to the sizzling sound of the Grasshoppers and the cascading brooks and streams, I felt as tiny as an ant but also realised the awful power that our littleness has, when we are disregarding – I so wish that we could really use our abilities for good. I wish that everyone would, to repair the beauty lost. However, I felt happy too, that I could walk the paths and all they brought me. The light, the colours, the heady smells of summer. I felt lucky that I live somewhere as beautiful as Fermanagh and a little safe in the knowledge too, that there are dedicated people out there, who love it as much as I do and want to protect it.