We spent some time in West Cork over the New Year, and my mother, brother, niece and nephews and sister stayed with us.
It was revitalising to spend time time there. Perhaps revitalising isn't quite the word I'm looking for though. It sent me in a different direction, put a new slant on things. Pushed me out of the rut I didn't even know I was in.
It's so familiar there, yet unknowable. The landscape is lyrical. Watery, rocky, mossy. The views are comforting and friendly.
Until all of a sudden, you turn a sharp bend and you are shocked by a vastness that is merciless and wild.
How do I comprehend this wilderness that is home? Where do the Irish people fit into it? Has it shaped its people, of which I am one, after all (despite plotting and executing my escape)? Could Ireland and its people share a common psyche? Charming and friendly. Earthy and familiar, in fact over-familiar. Poetic.
But proceed with caution. Around that sudden bend, or at the top of that gently sloping hill, you might find a cold eye staring at you from a vast watery wilderness that knows no mercy.