I need to be here breathing the air of the Hills.
The roundup was a little underwhelming but I'm glad that I was there, seeing a SoDak sunrise, goofing around with my friends.
I mostly wanted to post a picture of the beautiful Black Hills and Sylvan Lake, where we spent much of the day but I can't figure out how to do that on my phone. I will add it when I can.
Update: Oh dang it, I'm back at my computer & still not able to add a photo. But I couldn't edit at all till just now, so maybe something has improved....
More beauty to come ~ headed off in a few minutes to western South Dakota to a "girls" reunion with a bunch of friends from high school. We'll go to a buffalo roundup & be together at Sylvan Lake to memorialize our dear friend Jacque, who died early this year. No time now for more.
A stroll to Washington Square Park to see the Klezmatics & even run into some folks. Chilly in the mornings, & I've begun to carry a jacket. Tonight starts Rosh Hashanah & I'll be out of the office for 2 days, then leaving early (6 a.m.) for the Black Hills. Going away has given me such an urge for more going.
I'm still readjusting to being home but already preparing to head off to the Black Hills on Wednesday, the minute the 2 days of Rosh Hashanah are over. Even though I pack light ~ 2 weeks in Ireland with a carry-on backpack ~ I want to take even less to South Dakota. Because I haven't slept much, my mind is working slowly & boringly, trying to work out if I could go with just a tote bag. It's only 4 days ~ what do I need besides underwear? And should I upgrade to first class from Minneapolis to Rapid City? It's only 7,900 miles, 41,000 miles for first class from LGA to MSP & the flight's so early (6 a.m.), I wouldn't get the lounge benefit. Sorry, I don't know how to get anything else into my mind at the moment. I'll be more interesting soon! I hope! It was cold enough for a blanket last night! It was cold enough that I wore my new handknit Irish sweater this morning! Does the lavish use of exclamation marks make this more fascinating?!
the crocus is the state
South Dakota if
that is it's
the same as the
Petals the official
organ of the South Dakota State Poetry
society to which my mother long belonged.
but I don't remember any lines with
sweetest with ocean
mapmaker or pine
since the state tree
of South Dakota
& we often vactioned at
Lake the real name of which is Spearfish my mother
took me to a poets luncheon at which
an advanced younglady
buffalo bill's defunct ("now how
do you like
your blue-eyed boy
which I instantly
knew was my favorite poem
& went out & bought
my first book of poetry The Collected Poems of
I'm still a bit jet-lagged & have to moderate a public conversation tonight & want to take a nap & a bath first, hence a poem rather than a post today. I'll be in South Dakota next week.
The relaxation lasted halfway through my first morning, when I found myself yelling, like always, "My lane, my light!" at pedestrians sauntering into & up the bike lane. Totally worth it to have two weeks off even if I'm already back.
Yesterday we went through Preclearance at the Dublin airport, meaning we cleared customs before boarding & landed as a domestic arrival ~ & were on our way. We're sitting around the airport anyway, & it was great to get that over with. It's available in 16 destinations around the world (Ireland, Canada, the Caribbean, the Middle East) & I'm hoping they'll extend it widely.
Hello from an airport hotel, quick note before we pack & get on our plane back to New York. Thank you Ireland for your beauty, unfailingly friendly & helpful people, & two weeks of calm. Except for driving on narrow roads, which I found only slightly less harrowing by the end of the trip.
The Wild Swans at Coole
The trees are in their autumn beauty,
The woodland paths are dry,
Under the October twilight the water
Mirrors a still sky;
Upon the brimming water among the stones
Are nine-and-fifty swans.
The nineteenth autumn has come upon me
Since I first made my count;
I saw, before I had well finished,
All suddenly mount
And scatter wheeling in great broken rings
Upon their clamorous wings.
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.
Unwearied still, lover by lover,
They paddle in the cold
Companionable streams or climb the air;
Their hearts have not grown old;
Passion or conquest, wander where they will,
Attend upon them still.
But now they drift on the still water,
Among what rushes will they build,
By what lake's edge or pool
Delight men's eyes when I awake some day
To find they have flown away?
The really beautiful part about Coole Park were the vast lawns (which don't translate as photos) & the many signs of occupancy by the cultured & literary, from the owner, Lady Gregory, to the leading Irish artists, playwrights & poets.Yeats, Synge, Augustus John, Shaw, O'Casey. Once we found it (signage, Ireland, signage!), I could have stayed there for days.
It amused me to read there that Lady Gregory's plays at the Abbey Theatre always drew full houses, while Yeats' plays got no audiences at all. We went to some Yeats revival years ago & his plays were just awful. Like many poets, he's not interested in other people, so he can't write characters, only beautiful poetry. Dramatic poetry, but not theatrical.
The Burren is crazy cool. It's a vast area of limestone with evidence of Stone Age occupancy, deciduous forests, Badlands-like stretches of desert formations, and an incredible lack of signage. There's a national park somewhere down one of them unmarked lanes... Steve was amazing, both in figuring out a route & asking people, all of whom gave us illuminating information, like the man who pointed out the central feature of the Burren, Mullagh More, what he called the mystical center. I even got to speak for a moment in Norwegian! He was Swedish but that didn't deter me.
The gentians are blooming as we eat lemon cake
In the tearoom called An Féar Gorta
Your home comes to be
Mine for a week
In sweet Ballyvaughan, County Clare.
And I'm happy & sad as though Ireland were mine ~
The Burren, the pubs and the sea
You spark & you joke
While I long for the pie
Of An Féar Gorta, Ballyvaughan.
References to the lovely song "Sweet Ballyvaughan, "Terence's poem "An Féar Gorta" & to his song "When New York Was Irish."
Beautiful & impressive as they are, in a way the Cliffs of Moher are hard to see, that is, to get a fresh view of. The paths are laid out for walkers, no behind-a-rock surprises. Like the Pyramids in Egypt, they've been stared at so long that there's not a lot left to see.
I don't mean to say that I was disappointing. Beauty is enough. Beauty is always all we need.
This is a stretch of the main street of Kinvara, where both of Johnny's parents were born & emigrated from, meeting in New York. Since everyone in Ireland has relatives in America, it might not seem like any big deal. Johnny certainly isn't interested in his roots, & I don't get the impression that people here are all that interested either that I'm a daughter-in-law of Galway.
It occurs to me that given the popularity of Ancestry,com & 23&Me, maybe the fascination with royalty is that aristocrats are people who don't need to do their DNA to find out where & who they come from. They have what many people want: a history.
Oh man! After a difficult few hours getting out of Dublin & into our rental car, we drove on the left AND with a stick (neither of us has driven a manual for years) yet with little angst (after a few bumps) to Ballyvaughan, whgere we haven't moved all day. My resting pulse is approximately 10% lower than it's been since I've had this Appple watch. I can feel the muddy stress sliding off. In a minute, as soon as Steve (aka WillisWeather) checks the radar again (it's been 10 minutes since he last did so), we will stroll 15 minutes to town & hopefully find dinner. Everyone here looks like Johnny's brother.
The photos are on Facebook but I'll keep the writing over here. Two James Joyces/Ulysses references today: spent a little time & bought a book in Hodges Figgis bookshop & saw the mummified rat & cat at Christ Church Cathedral. Had a meal at a Nepalese restaurant, as recommended by professional eater Peter Cherches & he was not wrong. Monty's of Kathmandu on Eustace Street. Lots o' walking & banter. Tomorrow we go to County Clare for a week.
Faulkner must have been Irish ~ never have been in a place where the past is so present. And political. Is XX Street this way, I asked a man. It's just past where the capitalists tore down a row of buildings... His mini lecture included the new ones' phoniness, rugby & more. If there were ever a country where you want to strike up a conversation with everybody & anybody, Ireland is it.
There was also a Yeats exhibit, the National Museum, lots of walking, a hefty scone at Bewley's (since 1840) & a long conversation with a brilliant young Brazilian at the place where we had dinner. And more! 9 hours sleep!
The first person we met, on the bus from the airport, ticked off everything I expected: He led with history ("the English tore down buildings to widen the road, hence McConnel Street), he'd lived abroad (Canada), & he said something about poetry. As did the guy in front of me getting on the plane at JFK. The hotel clerks bantered. I'm liking this town, even staggeringly jet-lagged.
Off I go, on my first trip out of the country in 2 and 1/2 years, & pretty much my first vacation in that long. I'll probably keep up with my blog just fine but I may miss a day or 2, here & there. Where am I going? I was going to keep that a secret but the name Fintan O'Toole is a clue big enough to drive a truck through, innit?
It turns out that where we're staying in County Clare, Ballyvaughan, is the home of many cousins of the great poet & musician Terence Winch. His brother will be there at the same time as us, as will Michael Lally's son (or somewhere in the area). Small world!
I'm all set with places to eat & things to do & in passing Terence mentioned a new book by the Irish Times journalist Fintan O'Toole, who is also, Terence tells me, "an amazingly eloquent & perceptive analyst of American politics." I started reading We Don't Know Ourselves: A Personal History of Modern Ireland right away & can recommend the hell out it! An Irish novel with facts & footnotes.
I went online to see what else O'Toole had written & found (along with several titles I'll pick up) no fewer than SIX summaries/study guides to We Don't Know Ourselves. I've never seen the like. Is that because it's over 600 pages?
Steve arrives in a couple of hours & then our trip will begin to feel like it's really happening. We got these tickets I think 5 months ago so it was in the future for longer than usual.
I continue to feel so restless that I spontaneously bought tickets for a long weekend in Pittsburgh. Johnny agreed to go & I didn't so much as hesitate long enough to check my work calendar. Which turned out to be a non-tragic mistake & I'm going to assume I can reschedule the appointments & plans I'll be skipping. I spent half the morning trying to find a hotel in Pittsburgh without having a clue about getting around in the city. There are two funiculars! It will be great.
Hello, what year is this? I finally got the Whitney to send emails to me as well as Johnny as part of our dual membership. Today we were addressed as "Dear Mr. and Ms. Stanton." What the fuck. My name is all over my email. My name is my name. Where the fuck did they come up with this "Mr. & Ms." business. Oh, am I supposed to be happy that they didn't call me Mrs. Stanton? Did they program their computer in 1950? Unbelievable! We pay hundreds of dollars & they can't get my name straight? For that matter, the name on my card is Glinor.
Twice this week I overheard conversations ~ not merely snippets ~ & had no idea what language I was hearing. Not even close. I couldn't make a guess at any of the speakers' ethnicities either. If I had to say, one may have been Farsi or something from that part of the world, it had a faintly Middle Eastern tang. The other I have no idea. I'm always listening, in the (so far vain) hope I'll pick up some Norwegian. It made me happy not to know. That New York is still full of mysteries.