Enjoying the Irish Countryside Here and Now

Warm Greetings from Donegal.

I’m delighted to announce that I’ve secured yet another storytelling residency in Donegal Town from the month of June through to September on behalf of CIE Tours International.

After such a long, cold winter and wet, cold spring, the recent spell of warm, sunny weather came as a blessing, not only for people, but the birds, animals, insects, trees and plants. Nature seemed to suddenly burst forth with a renewed purpose.

I decided to avail of a fine Sunday evening, to go on a local two mile loop walk from my cottage along old country roads and farm fields, just as the summer sun was beginning to sink lazily over Donegal Bay. Near the beginning of the walk, my mind was distracted at the sight of several take-away boxes which had been mindlessly discarded and now spoiled a hedgerow. My automatic reaction was one of annoyance, especially as I had only recently helped organise a local litter clean-up. My thoughts then drifted off into some other current problem. Soon I was walking in a mind drama and building an impressive storyboard in my head regarding this matter, lost in thought on a beautiful summer’s evening.

For some reason I then suddenly stopped in my tracks. It was as if a wiser voice inside called to me, “Keith, would it be too much to ask to simply enjoy this walk in the present moment, as if it was your last?” I smiled to myself at this unexpected insight. Bringing my attention mindfully back to my breath to calm my thoughts, I decided to do just that.

Within moments, my surroundings became much more vivid. I noticed how the sunlight flickered through the new lush canopy of hedgerow trees overhead while I walked. I felt the warm summer breeze on my face and how the air was freshly perfumed by a row of whitethorn bushes, with branches laden with snow-white miniature blossoms. Rabbits grazing on the roadside, hopped away from me with white tails bobbing – except that was for one startled juvenile. Flustered by my approach, he took flight in my direction. Correcting his trajectory in mid hop, he then slammed on his hind leg breaks on some loose road chippings, before swiftly turning and bounding after his furry elders. Pure joyful comedy!

The final part of my walk brought me across several large open fields. I soon found myself wading through knee high fresh grass. A freshening breeze rippled back and forth across the lush green grassland, creating random silver patterns as each blade flicked towards the soft evening sunlight, all the while making a gentle swishing sound around me. The next field was a blaze of bright yellow buttercups which dusted my boots as I walked through them. Bees busily hummed from flower to flower while a small white butterfly flitted through the air on a seemingly random flight plan.

In the poem ‘The Road Not Taken’, the poet Robert Frost talked about coming to a fork on a walking trail in a yellow wood, and trying to decide which path to take. Perhaps we also have a choice on a walk to relearn how to connect with the beautiful world around us, or continue lost in our own world of thoughts. All I know for sure, is that this walk in the now, did me the world of good!

The Returning to Wonder continues…