There is a slow sinking that happens when the year turns new, isn't there?
The soft, muted landing after the bright sparkle and lustre of the festive season, the aftermath of the whirlwind of gatherings which we found ourselves at finds us in a tangle on the sofa, amidst groans of don't-want-to's and do-I-have-to's and general resistance to the routine of everyday that must be seen to now, whether we want to or not.
Personally, apart from very little get up and go, I don't mind this time of year. I find it a time of reflection and expectation, equally looking back, and forward, at the same time. A time when getting out and walking seems to be a good way of allowing thoughts and ideas to simmer and process and bloom into something with potential, but also a time when that sofa and fire are just far too comfortable, and the days too short, to inspire anything other than hanging out together and staying warm.
So, a time of opposites, but all very quiet and slow and not at all taxing.
This morning the house smells of cinnamon buns. There is frost on the grass, a slick of ice on the car windows, and as I sit in the warmth, looking out at the pink sky above Bray Head, I find myself coming back once more to that timely idea of resolutions for the new year, of what intentions I would like to set for the coming year, and something that has been floating around and coming in to land every so often, for over a year now, has finally come home to roost.
I have decided to take a (permanent) hiatus here.
After six years blogging in this place I call Milkmoon, things in my life have changed so much that I am finding it increasingly difficult to make things fit in here, and to find the means and inspiration to. I have tried to force Milkmoon to evolve with these changes, but the result has left me more and more dissatisfied and uninspired, and now, nine months after leaving the house where this all began, I realise once more, that it is the idea of change that is more scary than the change itself, and it's time to let this go.
I love blogging, and I am not giving it up, but I am letting go of Milkmoon, and I do hope some of you loyal, lovely people who visit here, find something of interest in my new project(s?) when it is up and running properly.
I have met some extraordinarily wonderful, inspiring people through Milkmoon, people who I am honoured to call friends now, and I do hope we stay in touch.
I may pop in here occasionally. I may even open up again, and dust things off, some day in the future. Who knows. But for now, much like leaving our little cottage, I am shutting up shop, leaving behind the ghosts of my small children as they were when this all began, for they too are growing and changing, and to me, more than anything else, the Milkmoon years were all about our life as a family with young children, in our little house by the sea, and one of the things I have found difficult to adjust to, is not really having small children to photograph any more! I got such pleasure out of this, of being around little ones, being inspired by their innocence and the view of the world from their perspective, and a part of me misses it very much. I am in love with seeing what wondrous people they are growing into, loving how this is influencing my interests in other directions, yes, even loving the challenges it brings! At the same time, now that they are older, other parts of my life are being given a chance to develop, and it's very exciting, but feels wrong to introduce it here in this golden, storybook place of magic, of small children and the waving grass, of being Mama and nothing else. That is something I want to preserve here, and so, a new place for new beginnings feels right to me.
I will call in and update with a link to the new place as soon as possible, though I am not sure when that will be. There are a number of different paths opening up right now and I'm not sure where they will lead.
So thank you all, for sharing these years with me, I hope we meet again.
the storms that blew for days have abated, and we find ourselves out tramping the sodden mulchy pathways that criss cross the significant hills of our days. We have gathered together our families, eaten our fill, making merry til the long dark hours are forgotten, pushed aside by the rush of words we swap and share and weave together, for there are months of catching up to be done with those dear to us.
And here we find ourselves again, in the quiet time between the years, the lying low, the resting, mustering ourselves for the New Year to come.
I find myself reflecting on this past, most eventful year, and looking forward down the path ahead to the exciting one to come.
For the second year in a row I find myself standing looking into a great big Unknown - and last year did not disappoint. We didn't even know where we would be living by Christmas, this time last year, and now we are here we are amazed, for it is as though we have always been here.
This year I was ~ packing up ~ losing India ~ leaving the marsh ~ moving house ~ attending weddings ~ in Cork ~ at Inis Beg Estate ~ meeting friends ~ in Sligo ~ discovering Bray ~ climbing that hill ~ flying to Virginia ~ delving into caves ~ flying home~ swimming in the sea : Sandycove, White Rock, Killiney, Bray, Greystones, Kilcoole, Silver Strand, Magheramore, Morriscastle Strand, Clogga Bay, Baginbun, Carnivan, Coral Beach Carraroe, Mullaghmore, Bundoran, ~ at Lough Key Forest Park ~ doing yoga ~ starting work ~ seeing our co-op shoot towards the sky ~ organising pop-ups ~ taking photos ~ making drawings ~ stitching ~ walking ~ cycling ~ reading ~ feeling very grateful and heart-full and excited about the coming year.
I want to say thank you, to all you folks who have stuck by Milkmoon, despite this most sparse years of all. There is still more to be told here, and I am not done yet. So here's to 2014, and all that it brings.
So, Happy New Year to you all,
may 2014 bring you Enough.
Sending love to you wherever in the world you may be.
Picks me up by my tail and whirls me around a bit, then deposits me somewhere unexpected and never-seen-before, and so, a bit ruffled, and maybe even somewhat bedraggled, I pick myself up and dust myself off, check for injuries, and then Proceed With Caution. It doesn't happen very often in life that there is a significant change, I mean, a really, really big one. Usually it's the slow meander along the winding little pathways, with occasional wanderings off into dead ends and loop-the-loops which bring you right back to where you started. And there are lovely woodlands along the way, with leafy green and yellow light dancing up there above you, and sometimes there are banks of the sweetest flowers nodding their heads in the balmy breeze, and sometimes there are puddles of muddy water you have to wade through in your favourite shoes, or stones that trip you up or find their way into your shoe and hurt your feet. But sometimes it turns out that the little beaten track you are on suddenly opens up into Wonder, a great grassy plain with a smooth road and the sea sparkling in the distance, and suddenly everything feels Right, and Good, and you find yourself skipping along, kicking up your heels and skirts, and warmth blooms in your heart.
Sometimes Life amazes me.
And I find myself doing something I could never have dreamt of, only a few months ago. And the phrase, In My Element, suddenly has meaning.
A few months before we moved to this town we began meeting weekly with a bunch of rather splendid folks who had a rather splendid idea about what this town needs, and so, we have spent almost a year now, talking talking talking about just what that might be, and slowly something began to take shape, and then it began to grow, and to our collective amazement we are now in the midst of Something Splendid that is now fluttering out there, above our heads, stretching it's gossamer wings and testing the air.
We have no idea where it will take us, or what it will bring, but it is exciting and inspiring, and speaking in a voice that, it turns out, many people can, and want to, hear.
We are part of a growing community co-operative that is still finding that voice, but that is strong and clear and determined. We started out as a wholefood buying club, and then we put on an event, a vegetarian feast with music and dancing and singing, and we started to tell people about what we were doing, and all around us these little lights began to go on, in people's eyes and hearts, as they listened to what we were saying, and they began to add their voices too, and now we find ourselves here, with a gathering crowd of good intentioned, hopeful folks who know that this is the way forward. Sharing our resources, our skills, our experience, sharing those tender seedling ideas that we carry around in our hearts, sometimes for years, not knowing what to do to help it grow, because some things need more than one person to develop and grow into that wondrous something that has untold potential. But then, when we gather together, and begin to talk, magic happens, things do begin to grow, and faster than you could have imagined. And we all realise that it is possible to do things differently than we are told. It is possible to do business another way, that things don't always have to involve money, or multinational companies, or foreign businesses, that we have everything we need right here on our doorstep. We have the community we need, right here in our town. And you know what? So do you!
The most exciting thing we have discovered is that as soon as you begin to speak, to ask for what you need, you find it's right there, down the street from you, in your community, and it has been all along. There is a network of amazing people all around you who want the same things for themselves and their families that you do, and all you need is a place to come together to talk. A Common Ground to talk about the common ground you share, the back to basics, real, stuff, like how to feed your family, how to provide a real and rich experience for your children of what the world really is, and how people really do want to help one another, because it benefits us all, in the end. And in doing so, we discover how to pare away the unnecessary, stifling, consumer mentality we are all infected with, and to get real again, connect with people in a heartfelt way that brings untold riches of the kind we haven't felt since childhood.
Last Saturday evening we hosted another event, this time a pop-up restaurant, a seated, four course, vegetarian meal for 30 folks, in a studio in what was once a factory that made the rather famous Beverley Bags in the 50's and 60's, and I found myself In My Element. Seeing all these people, many of them strangers to one another, gathered together and talking talking talking, connecting, sharing food and drink and laughter, stories and ideas and intentions, well, I thought my heart would burst with happiness.
It's all true, you know, what we know in our hearts; that we all want the same thing in the end. A safe place, with love and support, a community that lifts us all up, collectively nurturing and sustaining us, and that carries us forward into a hopeful future where we are doing things the way we want to.
Local friends, and anyone interested, you can find us,
Six months ago we moved house. We left behind a little cottage that sat in a field by the sea, with a marshland spread out behind us, and a clear view to the mountains. A country setting, by all accounts. Our exciting, and thoroughly successful, I might add, move to a town setting, meant, I assumed, that we had left the country behind. But every day I have been reminded by the tenacity of Mother Nature. There simply is no getting away from it, is there? Thankfully!
We were very particular about where we ended up, in particular about staying by the sea, and with some compromise on other things, we now find ourselves surrounded by a neighbourhood of old gardens, dating from a time when people grew their food, and being self-sustaining was just the norm, (and not that long ago, either!)
In the summer it was flowers that did it. A walk around town was a joy from start to finish, a perfumed soliloquy on the glory of the pure, and yes tenacious, smorgasbord we have right here, beneath our feet, spilling over the walls as we pass, nodding to us, brushing our shoulder, whispering in our ears and causing us to forget what we were just saying or thinking, gently persuading us to pause and inspect, or smell, ooh and ahh, and oh, what a pleasure it all was!
And now autumn has arrived, and oh my, it's as though Mother Nature saved the best for last, and has just opened yet another cupboard, beckoning to us in our breathless wonder as we inhale the perfume that is now made into something else, a deep earthy something, born of pollen and spores and the abundance of flora that came together over the summer months, collided in the air, entangled with one another in the tango of love, danced the summer dance before drifting down to settle into the undisturbed sleep of winterness. A potent concoction of humus and decay that reassures the soul.
It's my favourite time of year.
And so, over the last month, a walk around the neighbourhood has been a delight of another, abundant kind. Everywhere you go there is fruit hanging over the walls, apples, pears, and the occasional plum tree. And the blackberries! They are my favourite, just pushing and poking their way through every crack and crevice, through every hedgerow, and the lovely thing is, for all the gorgeousness and pride of these local gardens, there's very few that don't have brambles somewhere amidst the bushes, and there they are allowed to be, undisturbed.
We even have a beautiful big, old walnut tree around the corner, out on the roadside, and not so long ago, before I realised what it was, there was fruit for the taking.
So, yes, there is an inordinate amount of pleasure to be had in abundance from an unexpected source. And this apple crumble has been our go to dish when visiting friends, or having people over. The crumble is particularly yummy. It is gluten, sugar and dairy free, of course, though I guarantee just as palatable to omnivores of all persuasions.
8 eating apples, (or 4 each pears and apples), peeled, cored and quartered,
120ml honey or maple syrup,
60g dried fruit, I used a mix of golden sultanas, cherries, and berries, or a handful of fresh blackberries,
170g fine oatflakes,
30g mixed toasted seeds and nuts,
2tbls unrefined sunflower oil, (I think I'll try coconut oil next time!)
Oven: Gas 5, 190C, 375F
As we are using eating apples, due to the fact there is no refined sugar used in this recipe, there is no need to stew the apples first.
1) Roughly chop the apples and lay them out in an ovenproof dish.
2) Drizzle with about 30g of the honey/maple syrup.
3) Sprinkle with the dried fruit.
4) In a bowl, mix the oatflakes, nuts and seeds.
5) Add the oil and the rest of the honey/maple syrup, and mix until all the flakes are coated in the oil.
6) Sprinkle over the fruit.
7) Bake in a pre-heated oven for about 45 minutes, or until the topping is golden, and the fruit mixture is bubbling.
If you can manage to not eat every morsel of this when it comes out of the oven, it tastes even better the next morning, as a delicious, nutritious breakfast.
Enjoy it with yogurt of your choice; dairy, soya or my latest obsession, coconut!
Footnote: The other morning I looked out my bedroom window, down at the dozens of shiny red apples that bobbed against the grey sky, and wondered for the millionth time about how on earth we were going to reach them. The lower branches have been picked clean, but all the rest were far beyond our reach. Later in the day, as I sat in work, putting finishing touches to this post, I got a phone call from our eldest lad saying he was just home, and was I aware the apple tree was lying across the garden? The lovely old thing, our collective favourite thing about the whole package that is this house, top heavy with it's bumper crop, added to which was the weight of days of rain, simply keeled over. Just like that. We are all very sad.