I have looked upon those brilliant creatures,
And now my heart is sore.
All’s changed since I, hearing at twilight,
The first time on this shore,
The bell-beat of their wings above my head,
Trod with a lighter tread.
~The Wild Swans at Coole, W.B. Yeats
I will be returning to Ireland in a few weeks and I’m already trying to prepare myself for the emotional impact. Ireland will always be a place I inextricably link with my mother; not only because her, our, family is there but because of the sheer joy my mother felt being there.
She loved Ireland, loved the trips we took there and spoke often of visiting one more time, even when she knew it would no longer be possible. But even then, just talking about a dream of making the journey inevitably led to reminiscing about favorite places and things and retelling of stories that made her feel connected with her family and quite simply made her happy.
My mother’s recollections were often accompanied by a quote from Joyce or Yeats, and so then mine is as well.
This is the black sand beach at Vík í Mýrdal, the southernmost village in Iceland. I shot this picture last August and it was hard to believe it was summer; while in Reykjavik it was a balmy 68 degrees, at Vík í Mýrdal the wind was howling and the temperature couldn’t have been much above freezing.
Iceland is a beautiful place with a diversity of landscapes from frozen glaciers to erupted volcanoes (Eyafjallajökull; say that five times fast) to therapeutic hot springs as well as breathtaking beaches like this one. The sand on this beach is made up from volcanic rock and the columns in the background are called Reynisdrangar. Legend says that the stacks were created when three trolls attempted to drag a three-masted ship to land but they were caught by dawn and when daylight broke they became needles of rock.
I was in Iceland for a week but I could have happily stayed for much longer. I plan to return, in winter next time, and hope to capture the Northern Lights.
My hometown is part of a city, but it’s a peninsula and so it has remained a separate, quieter place with a real sense of neighborhood. Every Fourth of July there is a parade that most of us who were brought up here have marched in at one time or another. The year I walked with my sister and some friends we didn’t win any awards, but we did all receive a fifty cent coin and I remember thinking that was quite a reward!
After the parade is the cookout, a tradition that was started by my parents and has been continued by my sister who lives in the house we grew up in. Family, friends…friends of friends are all welcome. I can’t imagine a better holiday, or a better place to celebrate it.