Returning To America : Place As Cultural Experience

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Each time I return from abroad, I am struck by just how different things are here in ‘Murica.  Spaces are large, cars move fast, and people are pointy.  Life in the U.S. is like an oil painting, with layered color, defined texture, and not-so-subtle edges.  Contrast this with the watercolor world that is Ireland, where I have lived for the past three years, and suddenly the two cultures, though shaped and influenced by shared or similar values and forces, appear at polar ends of a cultural spec … [Read more...]

By the light of the harvest moon: autumn equinox thoughts

A moonlit night on the other side of the world. Image by Matti/Masivaan used under Creative Commons license.

Last night was the first full moon since early spring when I've been able to go out into the night and see my way by Her light.I always find the shift into the dark half of the year difficult. One of the great consolations of this time for me is the light of nighttime, whether as the wonder of the Milky Way spread out across the heavens, or the Northern Lights, taking my breath away, or the blue shimmering radiance of the full moon in the night sky.The first time I experienced the … [Read more...]

St. John’s Holy Well: east Cork [photos]

and we're off...

Down my lane is a Well.  It's an Old Well, long venerated and hallowed; a place of quiet contemplation and healing.  This Well, now dedicated to St. John, is an eye Well; it's known for its eye cures.  The rounds are held in August, they say to commemorate the beheading of St. John, but we know it was a Lughnasadh Well, don't we.  Think about it:Turas (Patron or Rounds) traditionally done at the end of August (remember, that is the date for Old Lughnasadh - before the calendar cha … [Read more...]

A Night In The Mound

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One time they [the king of Ireland’s three sons: Ruide, Fiacha, and Eochaid] went to talk with their father at the Grave of the Druids [fert na ndruadh] to the northwest of Tara. Where have you come from? he asked them. From Echlais Banguba in the south, they replied, from the home of our nurse and guardian. They were dressed in beautiful cloaks: a green cloak on the eldest, Ruide; a fringed woolen cloak from the Land of Promise on Fiacha; and a blue one on Eochaid, who had a band of shining s … [Read more...]

Japan’s Fukushima Disaster and Its Impact on Fish in the Pacific Northwest

A fishing boat in my home port of Auke Bay, Alaska. By Gillfoto, via Wikimedia Commons.

If you have environmentalists as Facebook friends, you may have seen an image and headline making the rounds suggesting that leaking waters from the Fukushima nuclear reactor in Japan is poisoning the waters of the Pacific Ocean. As a passionate lover of wild Alaskan salmon, that had me worried. I've had moments of mild panic thinking that the bounty of the seas may be gone forever.Salmon are the major fruit of harvest season for me. I was raised subsistence fishing in the waters of … [Read more...]

The Weight Of A University

Kelvin Grove Art Gallery and Museum from University of Glasgow

Last week I found myself on the Glasgow University campus and was struck by the feel of it. The area taken up by University buildings, old and new, is quite large, and the whole of it has a certain weight to it. There's a sense of something deep there.Some of the University buildings are very old. The architecture looms large. Certainly that's part of the weight, but not all of it.There is something else. I want to say that it's a scent, but that's not quite right. A presence is more … [Read more...]

Night Sounds: An Sionnach In East Cork

Monday night, shortly after midnight, I was pulled from my bed by the strangest sound. I had been reading when I heard it, and at first I thought it was a cow, or maybe the sheep dog down the lane. But when it came again I didn’t recognize it, so I crawled over to the window-seat and leaned out of the upstairs window, hoping to hear more clearly. The valley below was shrouded in a thin mist, which was illumined under a cloudy sky. It was deathly still, with not a whisper of wind. Then the call c … [Read more...]


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