Autumn – How I Have Missed Thee

It’s late October and a lot has happened since my last blog post back in January – and that’s pretty much the reason for the lack of blog posts!  In April I said goodbye to Australia and hello to Canada!  The amount of work involved in moving from one country to another cannot be underestimated – especially paperwork.  However, here I am now in Canada and loving it and I’m absolutely relishing my first autumn in six years.

Admittedly, there can be fewer places in the world more spectacular than the east coast of Canada in autumn, or Fall as they call it around here, and I am lucky to live in an older neighbourhood which is full of mature trees. During my daily walks I am surrounded by the golds, greens and reds of the native woodlands and my soul is soothed by the dance-like flutter of colours to the welcoming ground.

As my eye is drawn to the leaves at my feet I am struck by how different each one is – each leaf is its own unique combination of colour, shade and light. I’m fascinated how the same tree produces leaves of such varying hues but of course, despite coming from the same tree, each leaf’s story is different much like that of human beings.

Autumn Leaves.jpg

Autumn Leaves

Autumn, for me, is the season that asks us to consider perspectives, to have a look at life from another angle or at least consider that another perspective exists.

It’s one of the reasons I love this poem by Robert Frost.  It speaks of autumn and how his guest adores it and its stark beauty but she believes he doesn’t love it as much as her.  It addresses his guest’s perspective and her perception of him and in a subconscious manner his perspective of her.  In the end he concludes that despite his own love of “bare November days” she brings even greater enrichment of them with her praise as if it were a part of the autumnal landscape itself.

My November Guest

My Sorrow, when she’s here with me

Thinks these dark days of autumn rain

Are beautiful as days can be;

She loves the bare, the withered tree;

She walked the sodden pasture lane.

 

Her pleasure will not let me stay.

She talks and I am fain to list:

She’s glad the birds are gone away,

She’s glad her simple worsted gray

Is silver now with clinging mist.

 

The desolate, deserted trees,

The faded earth, the heavy sky,

The beauties she so truly sees,

She thinks I have no eye for these,

And vexes me for reason why.

 

Not yesterday I learned to know

The love of bare November days

Before the coming of the snow,

But it were vain to tell her so,

And they are better for her praise.

 

Robert Frost

Hot Cross Buns In January – Not Such A Good Idea

Just when you think you’ve successfully navigated the worst time of year for homesickness that bitch ups and hijacks you! And it was something so small, so insignificant that I didn’t see it coming…
One of my Dad’s favourite things to eat is a hot cross bun. He positively delights in putting those little beauties in the toaster until they’re lightly browned, then spreading some butter on them and sitting down and enjoying them with a cup of piping hot tea.
One of my son’s favourite things to eat is a hot cross bun… He needs it lightly toasted with plenty of butter on top and he will enjoy it with a glass of chocolate milk. Yesterday he lit up with excitement in the local supermarket when he spotted a packet of hot cross buns. Of course I bought them for him and smiled smugly to myself thinking – “breakfast is going to be easy tomorrow.” I had no idea what was going to be served along with it.

A Simple Hot Cross Bun – Seems There’s More To These Delicacies Than Meets The Eye!

This morning I watched as my boy smiled in delight as I presented him with his perfectly prepared hot cross bun. I listened as he “yummed” his way through it.  I grinned at him finding such happiness in something so simple and then I clutched my tummy as a bolt of homesickness shot through me so intense that it took my breath away.
I turned and fled to the kitchen before my son could see the change in my demeanour and dragged in a deep breath as a longing and yearning for home washed over me like a wave and, in that instant, threatened to drown me.
I held onto the counter top for strength as I wondered where the hell this had all come from.  I waited for it to pass but it didn’t.  Images of home assailed my senses instead.  The soft sand between my toes on Keel Beach, the smell of a turf fire, laughing with old friends and my Dad’s smile.  And that was it – I realised what had set me off – the inextricable link between generations epitomised by a simple smile.
My boy has his grandfather’s smile and this morning I’m sad that he hasn’t seen enough of that smile in his short life.
Don’t get me wrong  – I’m not belly-aching (even though I literally was!) I’m not complaining about my life – I’m incredibly blessed to have these opportunities to live in other countries and I’d be a miserable old bitch if I couldn’t explore this incredible world of ours.  However, there are times when you need home.  I need to go home.  I need my kids to spend time with their grandparents.  I need to see my father’s smile.
Now all I need to do is figure out how to make that happen

2016 – Farewell

The last day of 2016 is here and I, for one, am ready to bid it farewell.  It’s been a year of fantastic highs and some hard-hitting lows – a true rollercoaster.  However, there is one thing I achieved this year that I had dreamed of doing all my life and that is publishing my first full length novel – Someone To Come Back To.

STCBT-for-web

Someone To Come Back To  – Book one in the Omega Security Series

I’m a great believer in marking special occasions – as life is simply too short not to – and celebrated the launch of the ebook online with a wonderful party.  A few months later the paperback version was released and the first copies arrived in Brisbane and how wonderful it was to finally hold my baby in my hands!  I decided another party was needed but this time I needed to pop some real corks! Below are a few photos of the event back in August. I’d like to thank all those who have supported me on my writing journey so far – from all over the world!  It means so much to me that you love my stories.  I’d like to wish you all the very, very best for 2017 – much love, Roisin.

Bubbles & Books – A Perfect Combination!

 

The Marketing Director – Getting Ready To Party!

 

Me And A Much More Talented Lady – Brisbane Based Artist Julie Cane

 

My Beautiful Brisbane Book Babes!

 

CK And Me!

 

Feeling Slightly Like Shakespeare As I Sign By Candlelight

 

Looking Slightly Psycho With The Lovely Pauline!

 

My Babies!

 

My Thanksgiving Day

The washed out wintry light of the early morning sun was just starting to peep over the hedgerows.  The road was still damp from the rain that had fallen soft and slow throughout the night.  I looked over at my husband, his face deep in concentration as he wrangled our recently acquired left-hand drive camper van around the twists and turns of the Irish country roads.  I looked back to check on the dogs and I smiled as I spotted Billie peeping out at me from underneath the table and Zara sitting up on the seat, her head resting on the tiny lip of the window – determined not to miss a thing.

black dog on beach

Miss Billie

Zara in snow

Zara

I looked back out onto the road and I smiled some more, this smile warming me from the outside in.  We were doing it.  We were finally calling time on all the shit luck that had plagued us in recent years.  We had already covered the first few miles on an adventure we had planned for months.

We had no idea where we were going.  We had no idea what we were doing.  We had no clue as to what the future held for us but we were throwing caution to the wind and just going for it anyway. The presenter on the radio announced it was Thanksgiving Day in America and wished everyone a happy thanksgiving day. I smiled again, somehow it seemed appropriate that we were setting off on our journey into the unknown on a day when people celebrate that which they are thankful for. At that point in time I was intensely grateful to be physically putting some distance between me and so much that had happened in the years before.

hymer-history-5

The Good Old Hymer!

A few months previously we had sold up everything  – our beautiful home, our cars and anything else of value we’d had.  We’d paid off the tax man and our debtors, glad to finally be free of crippling debt that had arisen from a business deal that had gone horribly wrong.

However, it wasn’t just our business that we lost in those few years but also the dream of being parents.  Our tiny babies lay dead and cold in a grave on a hillside in the west of Ireland. We were emotionally battered and our souls were weary.  We needed to step off the merry-go-round of life for a while and take some much needed time out.

And that’s exactly what we did.  For the next nine months we trundled along the highways and byways of Europe. We ate all manner of wonderful food and we washed it down with cold beers and fine wines.  We walked for miles on golden sands – I don’t think there is an inch of European coastline we missed.  We hiked through sun dappled  forests and swam in lakes the colour of earth and sky.  We gloried in freshly fallen snow and we skied and fell in love with the granite peaks at the heart of Europe which we’d never visited before and at night we warmed ourselves with the heat of a log fire and the local firewater.

triglav_national_park_-slovenia

The Julian Alps in Slovenia

We got lost, gloriously lost and yet somehow managed to find our way.  We met great characters that enriched our journey beyond measure.  Bit by bit we healed and started to feel the joy of life flowing in our veins again.  We dared to believe in dreams once more and we even dared to dream.

A year later we found ourselves back in Ireland patiently awaiting the birth of the child we were told we’d never have.  From one thanksgiving day to another our lives had changed beyond belief and we had so much to be thankful for.  A few weeks later I gave birth to our beautiful baby girl – a precious gift that I will spend the rest of my days being thankful for.

laoise-in-sunglasses-on-hols-in-greece

My Perfect Little Girl

However, on Thanksgiving Day I always remember that wintry morning in Ireland as myself and my husband bumped our way along to the early morning ferry that was to deliver us to Europe and from there to God only knows where.  I remember and give thanks for the small bud of hope that still remained somewhere deep within me.  Sometimes you’ve got to let go of all you think you know and just go – go with your heart and feed your soul.  You’ll be thankful for it more than you can ever know.

The Other Side Of The Window

It’s that time of year again when the old Celtic festival of Samhain gets celebrated in its more modern incarnation – Halloween – in various parts of the globe. This mostly takes the form of donning costumes, making lanterns out of  pumpkins and letting one part terrified and 99 parts hyper children loose on our streets, chanting the well worn mantra, “trick or treat.”

I happened to be out walking with my own children at dusk the other evening and I asked them what did they want to do this year for Halloween.

“Nothing,” the little fella replied.

I was somewhat surprised as he usually has a plan regarding his costume, for the big night, a few weeks in advance.

“Huh?” I asked, “nothing?”

“Nope, nothing,” he confirmed.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because of those creepy clowns,” he said in a voice that tapered off towards the end of his sentence as his eyes scanned the shadows, “they’re everywhere.”

“Yes, they’re everywhere!” His sister concurred in that all knowing voice reserved solely for use by big sisters.

creepy-clown-two

A bloody Creepy Clown!

I stopped walking.  I was a little bit on the concerned side at this point.  I don’t want a bunch of fools with nothing better to do than dress up as clowns and go around creeping people out turning my kids into a pair of agoraphobes.

“Hey guys,” I said, “come on, we’ve got to get this into perspective.  Those creepy clowns are nothing but a bunch of idiots with nothing better to do. And it’s not like there’s been any spotted around here.”

My children stood there in the half light, the looks on their faces telling me they remained unconvinced.

I soldiered on.

“Hey, those fools have more to fear from the people they’re trying to scare than the other way around,” I assured them.  “A few of them have been punched and beaten with baseball bats.”

The little fella seemed pleased with this news.

“Really?” he asked with a smile.

“Really,” I confirmed.

“Cool,” he announced, “I’m going to bring my baseball bat with me when I go trick or treating, that’ll send them a message.”

With that he walked on, quite happy now he had a plan to deal with the creepy clowns.

His sister looked at me.  “I’m not so sure the creepy clowns have too much to worry about from Baseball Bat Boy but I’ll think about it.”

“Okay,” I said as I fell in beside her as we resumed our walk.

My phone buzzed in my pocket.  I stopped to get it out.  My daughter walked on.  The night was nearly fully upon us.

Thirty seconds later I practically bumped into my daughter as I put my phone back in my pocket.  She was standing on a patch of grass looking at an old house.

“Creepy,” she whispered.

I looked at the house.  It’s one I am familiar with as its on one of my walking routes.  I’ve only ever seen it in the day time and it’s definitely on the creepy side.  However, here in the near dark of the night it looked positively sinister.

halloween-house

The House

“There’s someone watching us,” my daughter said, her voice hushed.

I looked at the house, in particular at the windows in the centre of its structure.  I’d initially thought it was abandoned but every time I walk past it I feel like someone is watching me. However, I wasn’t about to mention this to my daughter!

“Oh, I think there’s been too much creepy talk tonight,” I laughed nervously.

She looked at the house and then she looked back at me.

“No, there’s something in there,” she said, quite certain, “on the other side of that window.”

Silence fell between us.  I don’t believe in dismissing my children’s feelings on things. I’ve never uttered the words, “don’t be silly” when it comes  to situations where they feel uncertain.  I want them to develop and hone their instincts so that they learn to trust them, thereby following them and staying as safe as possible in an increasingly unsafe world. On the other hand I don’t believe in them scaring the shit out of themselves either! There’s a fine line that needs to be tread here and I was grappling to find my way along it in the Brisbane moonlight the other night.

Thankfully, Baseball Bat Boy saved my ass.

“Hey!” He shouted from down the street, “what are you two doing?  I’m getting creeped out here all by myself!”

“Okay!” I hollered back, “we’re coming!”

I placed my hand in the small of my daughter’s back and gently nudged her along.  There was no hesitation on her part but she was still looking up at the window.  The very same window I always feel there is someone on the other side of  – looking at me as I pass.

Later that night I dreamed of a house from my own childhood, a house I was terrified of. It was a beautiful old property surrounded by ancient trees and it had a huge, shiny green door with an enormous brass knocker.  However, to my ten year old’s mind, it always seemed dark.  Even on the brightest of days you could never see through its dark windows. I never saw a living soul at that house but always felt like someone was watching me as I walked by.  Other kids used to take a shortcut through its grounds or climb its trees on their way home but me, never.  I never set foot within its domain.

Was there something sinister there or was my fear of this house a result of my exceptionally overactive childhood imagination – something my daughter has in common with me.  I don’t know but I do know this: whenever I’ve trusted my instincts in my life, they’ve never, absolutely never, been wrong.

And on that note I would like to wish you a safe and not too scary Samhain.

1888482_389494194532866_3234528671820775192_n

Inniskeen

I meant to write this post in the actual month of July but the month ran away with me! This is one of my favourite poems by Patrick Kavanagh.  It’s of a time in Ireland that has since long past but the vestiges of which could still be found in the west as I was growing up.

Enjoy.

Inniskeen Road: July Evening


The bicycles go by in twos and threes -
There's a dance in Billy Brennan's barn tonight,
And there's the half-talk code of mysteries
And the wink-and-elbow language of delight.
Half-past eight and there is not a spot
Upon a mile of road, no shadow thrown
That might turn out a man or woman, not
A footfall tapping secrecies of stone. 

I have what every poet hates in spite
Of all the solemn talk of contemplation.
Oh, Alexander Selkirk knew the plight
Of being king and government and nation.
A road, a mile of kingdom. I am king
Of banks and stones and every blooming thing.

-Patrick Kavanagh

Connemara Road

A Classic Stretch Of Irish Country Road

The High Nelly

The High Nelly – The Transport Of A Generation

 

The Old Lady’s Lament

I was in a stadium at first, surrounded by concrete and not really sure where I was.  Then, I heard music, quickly accompanied by a chorus of voices.  Soon the voices swelled to that of thousands and almost drowned out the music.  The music changed and I recognised the Italian national anthem, then the French one and finally the Irish.  I turned a corner and there before me were people from all over the world, in various colours signifying their countries and all of them were singing the different national anthems.

I was delighted to hear the Irish national anthem and happily joined in.  Then the music started to  fade and, as is the way in dreams, a door appeared before me.

It seemed to beckon to me so I opened it and walked through.

I found myself in a beautiful riverside setting.  The landscape was verdant and lush.  My feet sank into moss-like grass as I walked along the bank of the gently flowing river.  The water was clear as glass and ran over earthen coloured stones.  Here and there it darkened to the point where I couldn’t see into its depths.  I was mesmerised by its constant flow. However, something drew my attention away from it, a noise, a movement.

I looked up and a beautiful apple tree had sprung up on the far bank, it’s branches laden down with bright red orbs of goodness reaching out and dipping into the water.  Then I noticed a figure.  She almost seemed part of the landscape at first but as she moved the cloths on her aged form became clearer and more defined.

She moved towards the bank of the river.  Another movement caught my attention upstream.  I looked and saw that a bridge had formed.  I knew instinctively  I should cross over the river via the bridge and make my way to the old woman.

I followed my instinct and soon I was only a few feet away from her.  From this distance I could see her ancient clothes were made from some type of sackcloth and yet they moulded to the shape of her body like velvet.

I moved closer and could see she had something in her hands.  It was a primitive style basket woven from reeds.  It was wet and it was obvious she had taken it from the river.

The feeling of overwhelming sadness emanated from her in waves.  She continued to look down at the basket as if it had contained a great treasure and she had lost it.

I was concerned for her and moved closer.

“Are you okay?” I enquired, “have you lost something?  Is there anything I can help you with?”

She lifted her eyes and looked at me and it seemed that her face stayed the same but was constantly changing.  One second she was old, the next she was youthful, the next a little girl, the next a middle aged woman.  Her eyes constantly changed colour – so fast that I only had a sense of them changing  – all the while they looked grey, like that of a wolf.

“No,” her voice sounded inside my head, “there’s nothing you can do.”

She returned her gaze to the basket and her feeling of profound sadness permeated through me.

“If you need food or sustenance of any type, I can get it for you,” I assured her.

She looked at me again and half smiled.

“There was a time,” she told me, in a voice that seemed to wax and wane, “a time when these baskets were full of gifts from those who had more than me – food, clothing, books, even little treats such as sweets and perfumed soaps.  And at one time, for much of my life, I had a great need of these things and I was deeply grateful for the kindness of strangers who would send these baskets of kindness upon the river to a poor wretch like me.  Thankfully I no longer have a need for the items in the baskets.  Life is better now.”

She paused.

I noticed her clothes started to change. The sackcloth was now intertwined with silver and soon her clothes started to shimmer.

“But you are so sad,” I said to her.

She looked at me, her eyes, the eyes of  millennia, sad and resigned.

“My child,” she responded, “I am not sad because I miss the gifts. I no longer have a need for them. I am sad because the kindness behind the gifts is dwindling, it’s almost gone. There are others as I once was and all they can hope for is an empty basket.”

With that she conjured up a kind smile, turned and walked in the direction of the tree. A shimmer now surrounded her and I blinked and she was gone.

I followed in her footsteps and sat underneath the tree and contemplated her words.  I thought about all the times I had benefited from the incredible kindness of strangers – crucial times in my life, times of great hardship and loss. The kindness itself couldn’t change what I was going  through but it was the difference between me making it and not.

I thought about the state of the world and all the sad events in recent times and how much just a little kindness could bring about change.  I resolved to try and open my kindness valve some more and try and be part of the change.

I can still see that beautiful river in my mind, flowing constantly, like life itself.  I hope some day I meet the old lady again and this time she is happy because once again the river is abundant with baskets of kindness.