A beautiful, perfect day, if cold, the condensation slowly going from the windows. The sea a deep blue, everything in sunshine.
Except the cottage of course. It’s not until half 10 that the sun is high enough over the mountains to reach the cottage.
I feel the same. Two nights of sleep. Two days of walking. The deliberations for space weren’t necessary as I did them a month ago.
The ferry has almost reached the island. The double red dots I know to be women are walking on the bog road. Dog-dog is growling quietly at the window on the world as she looks at the sheep on the hill. And the space where I need to paint is a beautiful space if you didn’t know it leaks.
-Dog-dog, we may not get this chance again. There’s something I think we should do while the weather is on our side.
So we walk. A wren peeps out at us from under the exposed moss-covered roots of a tree.
Some things before you start them you know are destined to end horribly. Yet there’s a compulsive quality about them that pushes you to hope that maybe they won’t. So it was with our walk.
We go across the bog. The actual bog, not a road. Picking our steps on sponges of heather, sphagnum moss and bog grasses, we wind our way through what immediately is a maze of pools. Very much a 2 steps forward, 1 step back, kind of place.
Afraid of losing the dog I keep her on the leash, but her route is not the same as mine and only a few 360 degree speedy turns perched on a firm lump of vegetation followed by a quick leap into hope, prevents me from taking a full bog bath.
A tractor tyre. All by itself. With no obvious route to or from it. Perhaps it was dumped by helicopter. A car door. I know I shouldn’t like it but there’s an elegance about rusted metal items isolated on the land.
Tracks. More dumping. The tracks lead nowhere. They just disappear into bog without trace. We are nearly halfway across and it gives us some respite for 20 meters. Then we start again.
The vegetation gets thicker with less pools. We follow what I tell the dog are hare paths. I can’t think what else would have made them. Then the ground gets marshier but with the vegetation remaining dense you can’t see what exactly you are walking on. The stick becomes less useful for when I use it to feel my way it gets stuck every time and I have to pull it out without falling or being pulled over by the dog.
Less than 30 feet in front of us I see a hare. The dog can’t see because of the vegetation, and doesn’t know what a hare is anyway so doesn’t understand my excitement.
-It’s like a rabbit, a very big, very fast rabbit. A rabbit, just there. Really!
Now Dog-dog is excited, and instead of following me in the hare path, takes the lead. The hare, however, being a very big, very fast rabbit, is long gone.
The grasses get taller. It’s more like a marsh and I’m thinking that should be easier when I get plugged in the ground just like my stick. The wet peat holds onto you feet as you squelch your way out almost to a loud pop on release.
We reach the edge of some fields. Except they are on the other side of a stream and over a stone wall. The dog wants down into the stream because she’s not bothered by the mud but I persuade her to try and stay high up on the edge of the stream as we work our way around the field towards a small farmhouse.
The grass is up to my chest at times, and I just want to go home. I apologise to the dog, but tell her it is nearly over. Then I go in unseen water up to my calves. Both feet. The dog now persuades me that the stream really was the better option. And I accept that I probably shouldn’t have worn my best pants.
Trudge through the peat mud and across the stream. Then climb up somehow and face the stone wall with barbed wire fencing on top. There are sheep one field over so I dare not let go of the leash as I go through the fencing without anything getting torn by the barbed wire. Hurray I think as I stretch my way through. The stretch rips the pants.
But then we are safe. Wherever we are. In somebody’s field overlooked by a house and washing lines. I am certain that we look like a man from the city who thought it a good idea to walk across the bog with his dog.
We climb over a couple of more stone walls and our feet touch gravel. Oh sweet civilisation.
Houses. Old English Sheepdog comes out to us and walks with us for over a mile. I suspect it’s really a local man dressed in a dog suit. A small man with an exceptionally long tongue.
Based on the mountains and the sea I guess a couple of turns. It’s not that we’d get lost but we are already facing a 3-mile walk home and don’t really want to make it longer. An ambulance is ahead of us at one point and we have to wait for it to move because there isn’t enough room on either side for even the dog to get by.
Shielded from wind, it is a glorious sunny day, the green of fields particularly blinding. And much warmer than in the winds up at the cottage.
We walk past the goat, but Dog-dog doesn’t care. She does care though when we get the the smell of something decaying in the woods. It’s very powerful, a large animal I presume, or a murdered postman.
The tree trunks I’ve had my eye on for days are being being chopped and moved into a car boot. The man carrying the discs of tree trunks waves to me.
We pass the spot where the rally-driving kids did their high-speed doughnuts. Black circles. Tyre marks. Like crop circles. Then a car speeds by, dangerously so. It has a Dublin reg.
Ahead of us coming from the gap are the red women walkers and Rex. “He’s not even our dog”, they say in unison again as Rex goes for Dog-dog and I show him I have a stick. This is a timeless place. Check the postbox; there is nothing.
In the cottage I compose my response for the landlord. Really I just type up what I composed out walking. I leave it unsent.
Boil some water and wash my feet. In clean socks I send the email to the landlord. It tells him how happy I’ve been for the last 2 weeks but that I still need the space that I moved here being told I would have, so I will leave on Saturday. Outside the day could not be nicer.
The landlord’s backing out of the agreement so late in the day has left me no time to find out if I could get the roof fixed myself, and his demeanour on Saturday left me with no uncertainty that it would be a waste of time to approach him with a deal where I would take care of it.
With a fresh pot of tea the dog and I sit outside, but back up here by the mountain the wind is too cold so we retreat to the sunroom which works just fine when it’s not raining.
Arrangements are made. To gain access to put my stuff back into storage in Dublin. To get a van driver. To get a van. It’s a lot of money to get back to where you were a couple of weeks ago.
With the dog exhausted I cycle to village for milk, bread and cheese. And treats for the dog. The day is gorgeous. I stop repeatedly to take photos.
Closer to the village there are different sights to enjoy. An old man beside a pile of turf is white-washing an outbuilding. A ruin of a house long deserted, beside half a new house abandoned during building.
In the village I look at all the shops that I haven’t been to, but planned to go to regularly. The butchers, the shoe shop, the outdoors shop, the craft shop, the coffee shop (for tea though). And all in Irish. Because I’ve been living in a Gaeltacht. Slán Abhaile says my receipt.
A small fly in my eye notwithstanding, the cycle to the village and back couldn’t have been more perfect. The trips would only get easier. Or would have.
There are bees on the house, keeping warm, when I arrive back to a smiling dog.
There is no need to collect any more wood as I have more than enough for the few nights before I leave, if I even light any. I’ve gone without most nights, waiting for the landlord to fix the roof before committing to buying heating oil that would last for months.
After 9 sometime the landlord replies, and says that it was clear to him after talking to me on Saturday that it would not work out.
I’ve never felt more that a place is right for me. I peel off my right sock and see a cluster of swollen welts from insect bites on my ankle. Probably from the bog, I think.
Look online all over Ireland for a new home. I don’t want to do this for another 6 months, but I do it for 5 hours anyway, stopping only to make the dog’s bed when asked.
Before I go to bed the biggest beetle in the world walks across the kitchen floor. I escort him outside.