These are the things I love about Ireland.
The first is the nature. Green mounds of grass that run along cliffs overlooking bright blue bays. Forests with high trees and wide-open undergrowth. Beaches that you can spend hours on, finding shells and seeing oystercatchers root around for their next meal. The sea up close and from above. The soft mosses in the hills. The sharp nettles of gorse.
The second are the deer. I have been lucky to spend a lot of time with them, watching them grow, shriek with frustration in the forests, and run across flat fields. The deer are reflective and are content to watch the landscape pass by. They listen to the music I play, and can go days without water, and are staunchly Irish. I have heard many insist that they are not called British deer, though they seem to have a great sense of humor about it, nonetheless. The deer I have met in Ireland belong in the Wicklow and Mourne mountains and along the cliffs, sometimes wandering alone for long stretches of time. They traverse all over the island, over to Sligo and up to Ballymoney, and down to the outskirts of Dublin. The Sika variety were once domestic in Powerscourt but broke out of captivity and now have unlimited places to visit and live. You can see that they are resilient, despite being brought to the precipice of extinction throughout the course of history. They are wonderful listeners, quiet and understanding in a way that most people in this world are not. I can sit in silence with them, and still leave with my soul full. I feel grateful when I am in the presence of their pure joy, when they find just the right tree to nibble on or dip their hooves into a river. They are wild, some might even say feral. They are the only deer that they can be. The deer are some of the best friends I have made here and have been constant companions as the months pass by. There is rarely a day that passes that I don’t see the deer, somewhere in Ireland, or even while travelling in other European countries. I want to tell them all my stories, and I want to hear all of theirs. Next year, I will find deer again in the US, feeding in different mountains, but with the same deep love for the ecosystem they live in.
Next is the lavender. The lavender grows where it needs to be but is happy to have company. I always feel honored and content in its presence, the way it lets the wind ripple its leaves, and turns its petals to the sun. The lavender knows how to pull nutrients from the earth, how to expel toxicity, how to extend its roots outward to hold those it grows beside. The lavender’s scent is said to spread a sense of calm, relaxation, and wellness of being. In Ireland, the endemic species is called ‘Western Sea-lavender,’ which I find fitting because when I think of lavender’s crocheted purple flowers I think too of the sea. Lavender oil aids scars in healing. Lavender embodies love; it is drawn to the romantic side of life. That’s why you often see great purple fields of it in romantic comedies. Lavender is versatile. Lavender craves the sun. Lavender is often a perennial plant, meaning it will always rise again, year after year. I am reminded often of lavender, from soap or passing a field or a flash of purple on a book cover. I will plant lavender in the gardens I grow from now on, to spread this love, acceptance, and inner peace, and to always involve it in my life.
Then too are the books I have read here. They often have a dry, witty sense of humor. Their jackets come in bright, stylish covers that always impress me. Sometimes they are quick paced and rapid fire. Other times they take a long time to open and reveal their story, but regardless they always leave me thinking deeply about the world, my time here on the island, and the truths we believe about the earth. What would a perfect world look like? The books are kind, comforting, and most of all honest. There are many sequels yet to be read.
Finally, there are the cities of Ireland. Bright, always moving, and well planned out. There are a million photos to take in the cities, and they are a constant source of good food to enjoy. The cities are direct, their streets provide clear and decided paths, but with soft green patches scattered throughout. Whether it’s Dublin, Belfast, or Galway, there are always cozy places to stay and new people to meet. The cities have a million friends from all over. They are fierce leaders. I will miss the cities here, but I know that in some ways, I will see the cities again—reflected in the urban areas of the US.