Saturday, May 20, 2006

Beauty in the Burren

Ah, so apparently it is my responsibility to post about the Burren - I do not have the poetic words that Lisa does to express our experiences here but I will make an attempt to describe to you our hike through the lashing rain and wind in the Burren.

Our day started off in sleepy little Doolin in search of something ... anything that was open at 9 am - preferably something that offered hot coffee but that was not to be. The day started off wet as we wandered up the road while waiting, the rain was not coming down all that strongly yet but the wind took care of making sure we got wet. Some browsing in a store for a while and then coffee in a little music shop by a nice warm coal fire helped us dry off somewhat. We looked at the map and tried to determine where we were going to head - there is a trail here - the Burren Way (we have since also found the Kerry Way and I believe there are many "Way's" that cover the entire Irish countryside. It looked like it might be drivable for at least part of it. So after finding a breakfast place and filling our bellies with warm food and coffee we gamely headed out. Lisa bravely took the helm again in the car (not quite sure how it always happens to be her turn to drive when the skies decide to open up...) navigating the narrow roadways - ignoring the posted speed limits (we insist on driving much slower than the posted speed limits - in case you wonder why ... see the previous post about Driving in Ireland) we headed off along the Burren Way (gamely also ignoring the no through road sign part way up the hill).

Unfortunately that no through road turned out to be accurate so we parked the car and headed up the hill on foot. the path was muddy, the rain pouring down, the wind blowing the rain in a horizontal direction but up we went regardless. We marveled at what the cows could actually find to eat up here in the rocky 'moonlike' landscape of the Burren. This was just a short foray into the weather and we headed back to the car to warm up. Once again we found roads not on the 'normal' map but just drove along being amazed at the rugged barrenness of the area - and yet also all the farms that are around here - how on earth do they eke out a living in this terrain?

After a little more driving we found a more likely hiking place and headed up a different section of the Burren Way. How to find the words to describe the Burren? Bare limestone rock, eroded by the Irish wind, rain and weather; flowers growing in impossible locations; trees with branches that grow horizontally because of the constant wind; rock walls everywhere - walling what off from what, enclosing what for whom we are not entirely clear, but they are everywhere. We found what was a collection of buildings at some point in the distant past and sheltered there briefly from the elements - not that it made a whole lot of difference because we were already completely drenched (well actually there was a spot behind Lisa's knees that was still only slightly damp and not dripping). These shelters and walls were made from rocks ... and rocks alone, there was nothing holding them together other than the skillful selection and placement of the rocks one on top of the other. In some of the rock walls the rocks almost seemed to be placed 'willy nilly' but the walls were solid and stood up to time and the elements.

The views from the top were almost unbelievable and, to me anyway, indescribable. There is something about the rocks and the barren, rugged nature of the Burren that speaks to me, feeds my soul somehow.

Turning back to the car, with the wind now behind us any slightly damp place now became soaking wet also. We had to stop taking pictures because our lenses were covered in raindrops. And yet the wonderful thing about the hike is that when I look back on the pictures - Lisa and I both have big huge grins on our faces. Grinning not "in spite" of the weather - grinning "because" of the weather. As our trip continues we grow to appreciate what we see, how we see it, in whatever weather we do see it. Not wishing for it to be any different than how it is. Recognizing the beauty and majesty in our surroundings in whatever form they are presented to us.

Humble and wet ... Lisa and Sue


At 7:00 AM, Blogger lala said...

You captivate me with your words, Sue. And I was there.

Thank you! : )

At 7:04 AM, Anonymous cb said...

Sounds like a great place.

I think we can relate to the weather....having not stopped raining since you two left Canada. And on this long 2-4 weekend, it's still raining. But, it's just a bit of damp, and everything is getting very green here too (even my "lawn").

At 11:22 AM, Blogger Ivana BeLean said...

I would fit in quite well there. Growing up on "The Rock" I know all too well the challenges of growing anything and marvelling at the sight of watching it grow despite the conditions.
And the rain during "Caplin Season" in June made us joke that in Newfoundland we got our summer color not from the heat and glow of the sun, but from rusting due to constant RDF (Rain, Drizzle, and Fog) :0

Slaithe Mhath!!

At 10:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I wasn't reading, I could close my eyes and picture the landscape, carefully constructed rock walls, the barren, rocky terrain with natural life springing up from any spot it can find a hold.

'Grinning not "in spite" of the weather - grinning "because" of the weather' - The appreciation for the area and whatever it brings your way, and enjoying that experience for whatever it is... I've enjoyed reading about your experiences and the ways you have chosen to make the best of every situation that the two of you have encountered!!


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