a glow

i drop into the gully through the hole in the fence where they put the Grass-cuttings and it’s like coming back to a crowd of friends again..

i’ve been absent and the change is in their Growth, the pink plastic upturned baby’s crawler has only moved 5 yards downstream all Winter. otherwise it feels the same, over low wire by the Pines and i collect Sheep wool complete with bits of Briar and Muck in my pocket for the next time i have to start a Fire from Ember

Bealtaine was like a Heat inside me, roaring, simmering, flowing, discharging, conducting. now the very feet are tracking across all the old Terrain again, like Skin i’ve starred at countless times, Green Flesh

i forgot it’s just past lambing so the Ewes are lippy, jumpy. almost at the Forest edge i clock the lone Rock and a Gealbhan | Sparrow stands taut as a dart on top

transiting to the Green space is like coming into my heavy heart, but the Mossy glow of it wraps me up a little. the Woods is what i need, the spread of Wet Lime Shoots where Water flows through it, the young Beith | Birches beckoning me in further, the Sfganam | Sphagnum wooing me

Wetness abounds, as in my eyes, like glue, mixing in the palettes of the Green Pink Grey Browns a whole hue of feeling. there’s no limits to the children, everyone is letting go their Seeds in gushes, Sphagnum fronds rise up, Star-capped molded fingers sucking Juices from the mother Marsh below, heaving, Wet and calm

seeking any answers, i rest my brow on the dried green of a Beith branch, a totem Éin Chreiche | Bird of Prey or Sionnach | Fox please? the call is answered by a little lone Séangan | Ant walking upside down towards the tree base through a maze of cracks and pitted, peeling Bark

i take the advice and crawl up the Péine dearg | Red Pine nearby, keeping my foot-holds close into the trunk, its rust-like, peeling outer layer a tapestry of Wooden armour

being in the Air is some relief, strength flowing, part of the realness. i accept my place and i accept the loss, for every caress, a cut

i tied myself with a rope so tight i didn’t feel him let it go. afraid for the future

i get to the Water, knowing it is the Salve. i undress, the wild Sabhaircin | Primroses kiss their blossoms at me. Tugaim Anaíl | i Breathe, Life of the Stream falling down on me, in it, under it, the third and last is for his Spirit, that it may rise through this fair place and a communicant, maybe a little Primrose baby will wet his passing body with its Dew

for every rise a fall, every woman a man and every Breath a pause. for each cold foot warm feet

the Tide has turned and i ride it home, saturated with a Glow not my own, an offering made, the lips parted to break, the portent beaks of Fabhcún and Prehaun | Falcon and Crow wheel finally in the air above me, a lost Egg cracked in one horny Claw or the sly decoy manoeuvres of two loving parents?

i seek the Sceach Ghéal | Hawthorn out for a Hearty feast

a dream of connectedness

coming off the little road side and in under the low Trees is an irregular notion- a sudden or strange place to halt it seems, not tawdry but equally i can imagine any passer-by’s surprise to find a person here

tonight it is a room full of noise, a natural factory of vibration and rhythm. the moving fixtures light the Night, and these are all Fluid, splashing energetic meaning onto Plants that keep the small secret.

a rapturous Raithneach | Fern opens Green and Star-like on the high Bank, unperturbed by de-escalating temperatures. Sailleach | crack Willow and Coll | Hazel provide a loose and uncertain frame to cross.

the Life-giving Aeration is like a frilly white cuff above the Falls, more Flow makes intrepid exercise on all fours. the dynamic engine is pure theatre performed on the Schisty backdrop of the Bed, veiled completely by white cascading ions of H and O dividing, diving, synergising and suffusing with N and even more suspended O in the Air.

a penitent i strip. un-let the associations of sensation mean more than this offering myself. the usual ritual. cold shock opens the airway, letting a Raw summons out. no drama but that performed for innocence, in gratitude, observance.

my Feet feel, the Body cocooned in chemistry. matchless Flames, unresolved logarithms, hidden code. it is my sense of the sense of the senses folding like a thrust of Starlings skyward, shaping a shape more broken and perfect than the one before.

caught in time, the rest of my run drives through Night’s dark palace, weaving C through N to O then H, a dream of connectedness, Breathing

roots of the day

the Roots of the day become apparent once Outside. Crows in the Pines are the first to proclaim it- a modest ambition to run a quick circuit gives way to a nagging notion won’t leave me

the Fields are slippery with last week’s rain, Horses too un-used to company to pay me much heed. Water-logged Terrain freezing the feet, forcing dainty steps.

up the Brae, crescendoing Water brings the niggle full frontal in my mind- i am headed for an immersion, little i can do to stop it now.

like a magnet it reels me in, up through the Forest corner and a man, building. dropping into the little chasm it feels familiar again. how many times has this spot served to re-centre me? with slight shyness i shed my trail wear and tread into the trough below the small Falls, dip once – twice – three times lucky – the freshness of the Mountain Water a comforting salve despite the hour and closeness to winter solstice.

i leave warmer than i came here, at least inside- rekindled in Spirit and knowing the rightness of the road. nostril-breathing only, i feel energetic all the way home, like falling down a Grass slope, the intimate Hillside journey delivering me Home like a immense cupped and careful hand setting someone daintily down.

as the year closes i know another cycle looms, yet i am more a part with these other folk than i admit. kindred Spirit, Crow, Pine, Field, Horse, Water-filled terrain, the list goes on of kinfolk dearly met. i have crossed that bridge- Fairy-folk touch my shoulder at danger, listen to my babble in the dark and scorching Rain- and no wonder at it.

here the articulate language starts again, with simple un-mouthing equal only to us remembering

i am the Grass

it feels like murder.

all those individual wee Plants that have swelled eagerly on my small front patch of Lawn for 6 months now, that mascarade normally as ‘Grass’- their time has come.

i mow at them with dwindling determination, watching their lush Leaves and cramped diversity reduced to a twist of brown Root-pulled hair, Marsh Buttercup, Ragwort, Lachair (rushes), Caisearbhán (Dandelion), Seamair Bhuí (Trefoil), Daisy, Slát Or (Goldenrod)..the list goes on..

did you know there are more than half a dozen Flowers that look like Dandelion but are something else entirely??

I am getting too attached. the neighbours will be much happier

since the start of june i’ve been testing a metric- basically a scale of 1-3 for Mé Fein (Myself), the Duílí, or natural creatures i meet on route- Plant and Animal- and the Aimsir (Weather), judged pre and post my run. so i’m going with 2, 3, 3 on starting. the Day is resplendent, but my body feels a bit of a crock

i also haven’t run for two or three weeks- actually last time was on Oileán Gabhla, when I was having a week’s break off the Coast of donegal. that was an evening affair too- out to the end of the Island as the Salt-filled Air buffeted the Rocky Coastline and i immersed in a tidal Pool while the Waves crashed over the narrow spit separating me from full Atlantic madness. the perfect run.

this evening i trudge up the Grass bank leading to the back fence-line, a few young children snicker as i pass. when i arrive at the Forest and take my shoes off, it feels like it has been a long time, too. i don’t now how hard or soft the Ground will be. i’m jarring on Roots.

the Drís, or Blackberry, is out in force and it has its own youthful, spikey personality- the new growth blocking paths but offering sumptuous red and black Juice bombs. i check the Oaks then make my way up the napalmed conifer-cut area. it’s harder than i remember with scores of pioneers from Dris to Feachadán (Thistle), Fraoch (Heather) to massive Saileachán (Willowherb) making for a delicate dance over the fallen, overgrown Branches

as the Sun beams its final low rays through the edge of the Wood, i pull off and munch on the low-hanging Fraocháin (Bilberries), which are still mocking in their sheer abundance, although tinged now with an end-of-season little bitter

open-ended, i go down county road then climb into a Field to cut back on myself. an abandoned dwelling catches my interest, a line of mature Hazel out its back. i lean on one to admire the sweet view they would have had, them folk

as i skirt round past the old school-house i know now i’ll try to penetrate the bit of Woods i’ve been eyeing up for a year or so. it lies between two parallel roads- about half a mile apart- Conifer mostly by the look from outside

the uncomfortable crawl in through a Fox sized hole off the adjacent Field enters a typically confused area- like many i’ve encountered bordering abandoned Woodland. fencing, old metal-work, wire and fallen timber form an unnatural barrier with Overgrowth complicating my delicate tread through

it gives to standard pine-floored Conifer deadness, then to wetter Moss as it moistens from a drain or rain-fed pool, and i emerge at a line of telegraph poles before the Forest starts again in earnest.

navigation is by perceived brightness through the Undergrowth, and with the Light dimming naturally anyway after sunset, i’m on a timeline to find a natural channel through.

there is none.

a Deer track (nibbled mushrooms) gives to huge pillows of Spaghnum (our lush Moss) gives to close-knit juvenile Pine. i’m starting to laugh out loud, which usually begins when i’m feeling the pressure.

finally a fence emerges from no-where- i negotiate it and see a green Field to my right along it- Sheep. the Terrain becomes easier and gradually gives to buallaighing country- what i would call an area where Cattle are allowed to wander under Undergrowth and small Trees. i like the feel of it, there’s a freedom here for the Animals, some privacy and comfort together. Willow stands. low, sweeping Boughs. calmness in the Air

finally back on the familiar (parallel) path, my laughter swells as i realise how tired and sore my foot is. it’s a nagging, ongoing lateral pain and i hobble home- bested by the heaving weight of my green friends. cut down like i am the grass and they the saw.

Low 2, 3, 3

so Cold

now when i leave home my bare-foot runner tread seeks comfort- or more like equanimity with my flesh- not wanting to spend time on unforgiving tarmac, i’m driven naturally to seek softer ground by the River.

the precipitous Bank where people toss Grass cuttings and lately, unwanted Soil, gives covert access to our Stream. on the other side the Pasture is empty today, yet i still duck under the Pine along its edge. my hair snags repeatedly, and it retorts dryly to my complaints.

i meet the jumpy Ewes protecting their not-so-long born as the Stream rises, passing through sucking Mud patches and the Gravel bed of the small River itself, transitioning between fields.

the final one is harder under-foot, pocked by Feochanán colgach- spear Thistles- and a grey, smooth half dome Rock i pause to examine for markings. then an old rusty gate, a forgotten laneway on the flattening crest before the Forest- if i turn round now i’d see the Lough and beyond it Luachair Mor- hill of the big Rushes.

before me Dris- Bramble- creates a natural barrier to entry i am by now well-used to- young Cuilean or Holly have likewise invaded the conifer edge. avoiding transits i know, instead i plunge headlong into what looks like a young colony of Beith- native Birch wood. it is easy to see why this same word in my language also means Being or Entity- as their bright, lively salad-green diamond-shaped leaves twinkle in the evening sunlight.

myriad pathways are offered, every few paces a choice, walking on cushiony colonies of Sfagnam or Sphagnum- a place no humans visit, that has been gently re-taken, this great sponge the very Source of the Water-course i’ve been following.

now a band of much older, taller Beitheanna provide shelter and occasionally, a solitary Giúis, our beautiful red, slender Pine.

these each will carry a Nead, or Nest, at this time of year, and below one like a dead offering a clutch of black Feathers- what looks like part of a wing, which i gather up avariciously at first. off to one side- solitary, sleek and seemingly untouched- the king of the crop waits for me. i put the others back in their resting place- not without shame. a gift.

i totter on at a half-run, the complex wild Wood a mix of Species and the fallen dead, crumbling silently to be eaten by Moss carpet. coming out on a path close to the road i realise where i am, and how the unknown can happily exist adjacent to the utterly familiar.

while checking our Daire, the young Oaks, for budding Leaves, i notice the Féithleann or Honeysuckle is pervasive while Seamsóg- Wood-Sorrel- is abounding- with wee white, bell-like Flowers lighting my way.

many mature Beitheanna on this frontier have recently split and fallen- suddenly exposed by extraction of the neighbouring conifer. i push from lush Deciduous through this distressed border to that wasteland once more. i’ve forgotten something there, again to my shame. some pulled and discarded young are Giúis- mistaken for the invading sipka- and i want to rescue one.

“b-a-i-r, b-aa-ii-r”, long squeals force me to look up. swooping, making skate-park ramp shaped patterns against the gathering Cloud mass in the west, a Fabhcún gorm, Falcon, marks its mate. i can’t see the second, but the call pin-pongs as i stand, lone witness among dead, cleared Wood.

i run from what is coming, gathering a lone Giúis-een from the dust as i go. by the time i reach the edge the Hail is spitting. The Fraochán is about to spill its Bilberries, give it a week or two.

May- our Bealtaine- is the time of Fires in Ireland- the igniting of the landscape by the heat of Summer. the spirits of the Feather-gift and poor little Giúis lie in my hand gently as i take off on the Fairy trail, wondering, like everyone else around here, why it is still so Cold.

erosion

it’s Bright. i am in no hurry off. the Day might last forever, Dark but a Light veil if it comes.

i’m being called west and end up by intuition in a long Valley by the Abhainn Bhui, the yellow River. pockets of fertility give Trees chance, Water gushing from above.

i get in the Water and climb the River’s face- bony and broken, still fresh- til a track i can take to the Ridge.

itching for the scraped Granite surfaces of west donegal, pancaked flat, pockmarked with kisses from the Ice and trapped Stones, dry pool-lets of evaporating Quartz. breathing better when they are finally underfoot, i disremember everything came before- just their certainty carries me fleetly along, so much so that on the way back, much later, time will roll like a whirlpool around and around my tired legs like i’m truly lost

but now they impress, speed me, seduce. every Erratic a compelling satellite, each set its own perverse way, all lovingly completing a raw, not-quite lunar home.

on and on i run, steadily upwards, unmeshing myself until it feels the same scrapes tore the tops off everything here have bleached me, almost out of perceivable limits

the Day’s crescendo doesn’t want to stop, just decelerates marginally with the slow dropping of the Sun towards the atlantic, Islands part of an in-between, ether-like Air-Sea. hunger in me is in tune with the emptiness all around, i have to grip to near vertical Slabs and all-fours climb to feel steady, the crystal heat wheels terribly. an Eagle spots me

finally i’m near where i want to be- understanding purpose, looking down at the silent, shameless body of the Earth from a bent knee, swollen belly or breast. its exciting when your resources are much less, you feel more- like vulnerability washes in new continents of feeling.

the stillness is shocking, not a whiff..dead still weighing Atmospheres. Lichen crackles, waiting. the Lake’s organic blood washes my concern, gripping my bare flesh, allowing, ceding me back to the bank to almost split but smoothed, sated

i dodder, a moorhen makes me jump. skip, hop, fighters feet choosing right touch to the matter underfoot, constantly rotating- hard Rock, Heather, Moss, Marsh Grass, always hazardous- down, back, thoroughly wiped

it hardly matters anymore, the exercise has ushered in a ‘beyond thought’ state, i am just legs, carrying something, fiercely eroded, back down the falling Water and into the small Glen

Happy here

a Lamb’s face considers me through the wire, about 5 feet away. there is quiet simplicity in the stare. so as not to scare it’s field full of friends, i’m taking the river bed, a neglected haven of Seamsóg, Fearbán and Néal Uisce Cruínn (wood sorrel, creeping buttercup and crowfoot).

it’s hardly running tho’ and i left home desperately needing out. i jump a high fence to get into the open where i can see the Mountain ahead of me. on the road a mere sliver of an Gealach (moon) lights the west- it’s waxing, finally

prior days have been heavy going. is there anyone who’s not depressed? the longer term effects are beginning to show, there’s this desperate need to feel hugged by the World. good weather helps, if only the big brother stuff would stop

my new-ish ‘fingered’ barefoot running shoes make for a new experience. hugging the Verges is now essential. a slower pace, as every step reverberates up my legs. i only just survived a Hawthorne needle through the sole last run from the remnants of hedge-cutting. as the Light dims, i get more wary

after several attempts i manage to enter the Woods somewhere different, and soon am into a complexion of old Birch, many fallen and re-taken, Sphagnum peppered with bleached year-old Leaf fall, a Fox trail, Bilberry quietly awaiting Meitheamh, or June.

Birdsong overhead. Twilight approaching. feet damped finally in the Mossy beds. eventually i recognise a Place and work my way out of the unknown, and my feeling of lostness

the Field of Sycamore Saplings has a bright carpet of green Growth on the ground- it’s a delight running through it. i stop to feel the soft Nibs on the end of each twig-like branch on our young Oaks, Kernels of tightly-spun Leaves waiting to unpeel

as i sit and listen, the black silhouettes of Scots-Pine and Larch frame a thought- ‘what we are doing to Nature, we are doing to ourselves’. it seems this last oasis of Broadleaf harbours a little smattering of what once was. can i feel the wounds through the soles of my feet?

the Ground seems Dry, barring few obvious Swampy patches i have near misses with. usually i relish the long downhill non-tarmaced trail along the Forest’s edge. tonight it feels inert- dead. through receptors that are my soles, the cry is heard, a wound, a cut, an old lash

my Landscape of experience has tilted as Night descends. perhaps it is my earlier mood, leaking out. perhaps it is my footwear, feeding back. whatever, i have to get on soft Ground to feel safe. i take across the Horse Field, making a complex game out of a wobbly fence post, barbed wire and an overhanging Tree, the Stream gurgling all the while beside me. crossing the Bough-bridge, dead Wood has fallen on it

i love this mature Oak, marking the Field edge but also perched atop a glacial escarpment leading from the forgotten Ráth, like a sentry long forgotten about

lots of Capóg-Docken sprouting in the empty Paddock. last short tarmac stretch. i vault the wall using the Failte go Magh stone

on instinct i slip around the back of an empty house i had hoped to buy yesterday but couldn’t. i’m too old, or don’t earn enough, or have too many dependents my polite broker says.

and i thought we could be happy here.

out of Place

the Place is somewhere out there, waiting for me. how it comes to me, or more rightly put, how i come to it, is a mystery.

is the end contained in the start, the beginning in the middle, the reveal in the initial thought? am i drawn invisibly, despite myself, inexorably to it, or is my body pulled in and my mind just playing catch up..?

here is a Boulder, beside it a Pool of Water. a Flowing River. as close to Uisce Chaoin as you can get. the half-Moon brushed by furzy Birch fingers.

furtive and illicit, i strip. the Sweet Water pool pummels sounds softly in my ears. i step forward unknowing how deep, come to a crouch, submerge.

silence inside. moments out-of-time. like a sideways glance captures the essence. ducking a third time under, a slowed, Elemental awakening.

i’m on someone’s apparent Land, a ditch where the River courses, neglected, in the half-Light, prone like an Animal, dressing. this fertile Nook loosing dampness.

i stumble up the Bed, through wire, talk to my friends the Hazel, Holly and Briar, ask them to go easy as, in silent negotiation, rough Ridges give to Shucks give to an exit hole.

an awkward but appealing twister-like manoeuvre through more wire, i contemplate it before trying. this Holly is a surprise shape, reaching artichoke-esque towards me laterally, it feels so vibrant i want to rest here, beings Animate.

my head comes Mouse-like first onto the tarmac at Foot-level and i scramble through a hole onto the road, feeling non-human. orientating to the Hill and Moon, the Light leaving for good. like a shiny Seal-skin my wet body feels Light under clothes

re-taking to running, a sharp tightening low on my calf pulls me up quick. whatever contortions i had been engaged in my body is only registering now

Darkness like a gentle blanket pulls me home-ward, broken only by the odd, out of place car. i fall like a dice rolled downhill, foot-strike the only reminder i’m not asleep or walking through Stars. a Mizzle condenses on my face and lips, Moon shying behind a thin veil

the Pool at the centre of everything stays with me, in me, as though splashing puddles like a child does, to prove the tangible world exists, also helps to prove, through Seal-wet Skin and Moon-licked Mizzle, the reality of that world.. intangible yet embodied, inchoate yet articulated, here yet separate

out of Place

Tree that Being is

i leave the house feeling heavy. sweated a few times last night. i’ve had a tired feeling hanging around all day. went back to bed for an extra hour’s kip earlier. pretty sure the run will move things

and the Sun gilding the Clouds above the houses in the estate greets me

it feels a different World from last week when the Wind would have cut you. must be 6 or 7 degrees warmer, easy. the Light is bright yellow and Hills have lost their air of threat

there’s even tiny midge-type Flies in the lane. i notice them careering past in a jumble, once, twice- not quite in droves but it’s new Life surely

more Water runs in the Streams, i can hear it, feel its exuberance. fresh Rain off the Mountain side

maybe this heaviness is helping me accept what Is. stop fighting. acknowledge the trauma we are all in

i think of the Trees that fell in the big Winds. were they protecting those around them? were they made more vulnerable by standing on the edge? as robin wall kimmerer says in her native Potawatomi, “Tree that being is”

i move over the rough track, not really feeling the run, gliding, stronger. a couple up ahead get closer and as i turn onto the Forest road i’m looking for my exit into, and through, the Woods. they half-look over their shoulders at me, guarded, just as i veer off.

no-one is too chirpy anymore

the small trail through the Trees, along the rough edge left when Conifers were felled, is Moss green. shoes come off and i playfully avoid fallen Holly leaves, as if invited to their game

fallen Trees, fallen Holly leaves, fallen People, fallen, heavy hopes. the Ground absorbs my passing

over lime leaves, the Lime leaves Beings, who have become the Ground, i tread, midge-like. again and again this run is my listening, never the same words spoken twice, the story of the Woods merging in me.

toddlers squeals come from the bend in the road where the cars park, and i put my trainers on for the tarmac. the ladies’ Face is country-like, used to getting on.

the road down-Hill disappears somehow, i’m just aware of my Body and mind moving at different paces, one falling, one rising, like smoke lifting off the Forest as wet air

Optimal

the Light is optimal. despite a late rise and shaking off tiredness, the day outside crescendos early- it is Winter.

never knowing where to, i leave. there is something always latent to look back on that admits the Seed was sown early, i just don’t know it.

there are people out walking the Icy road to the Forest. a runner up ahead. three boys freewheel down Hill, a speaker perched on handlebars distorts the sound of their Music, ambulance-like, passing.

i already feel i am going beyond all this. one step at a time, threading the convivial encounters between folk.

Light is pulling everything skyward, like a vacuum. crisp, clear, true like a perfect Note. i’m rising with it, lane by lane, gushing Water at the Parting of Rivers trapping golden Sun beams.

here is the line of the Glacier. the same Sun presiding. only time between.

falling upward, i am following the billygoat route. that was in expectant Summer, the Raithneach unfurling like Faery wands to stand proud as king’s’ mitres.

today Snow lies in hollows of the Grass at each footstep through the Forest. Rushes or Luachair are profligate in the rough lane. i weave a way through them as best i can, Spagnum taking over as the fire-break steepens. a keee-keee somewhere above, i have entered their world.

approaching the Rock barrier where i previously had a 200m belly-crawl under thick canopy, i turn left instead under larger Conifer and meet a Heathered Hill-side.

by way of reward, a tumble-down homestead just ahead, nestled in the Bog. chasing the dipping Sun, my feet get their first touch of cold, Bog-Water shambling up the vague Sheep tracks, over Heather tufts, into Mossy pools.

effects of the Ice are in striations of each Rock band i cross, ascending, each band a new horizon, a pen-ultimate summit succeeded by yet still another. drawn towards the bare Boulders, forced to zig-zag past them, i prefer to turn to face the panorama in the west before it all extinguishes.

a final slope bears most impossible tufts of moss-heather-mountain grass mix. behind me, the run of the land tilts westward to Lough Suílí- where Ice retreated first. Sun is brimming yellow to the south behind Na Cruacha Gorma, the Blue Stacks.

blended from all these things and more: Light, Rock, Ice, gushing Water, Raithneach, Luachair, Bog, Moss, Grass, the falling dwelling, later the Conifer, even the Sheep- that is what we are and must come to accept. blended here, rubbed into our skin, part ritual- part anointment, ancient enactment everyday, words lost but enacted all the same, coating us in common coil.

on the way home i wash it, into the Icy Stream again by the Waterfall, gasping loudly with each freezing plunge below the surface. i dress straight over the Wet.

just the road home now. Ice spreading itself out again in the peri-Darkness. shoes off for a final kilometre on frozen Grass. boys in the estate watch.