* yes, there should be FIVE sets of boots but Allen ignored my advice to get adequate rain gear...

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Peat and Moss

I can say with some confidence that there are two things I will forever associate with Ireland, the smell of peat smoke and the hidden beauty of moss.

American fires are generally wood.  They have a sweet smell of sunshine with the crisp underpinnings of a winter wind.  They are boys in soft flannel shirts and giggling girls eating s'mores.  They are Girl Scouts and football.  They are maple and cherry and birch and apples and sunrise.  The smell of an American chimney is unmistakable.

Irish fires are peat.  The have a darker flavor.  They are woodsmoke mixed with cigars and smouldering leaves.  They are men wearing wool and women praying over their babies.  They are of the earth rather than the sky.  The are ferns and grass and plants from before tree's imaginings.  They are sunset and dew and ancient.  The smell of Irish winter nights is foreign and familiar.

The Irish people have been neglected, oppressed, starved, sold, invaded and sent far from home.  The island's resources are both abundant and limited.  Somehow the Irish have managed to survive, if not always thrive, since the 8th century BC.  The moss in Ireland is notable in the way it manages to gain a toehold almost anywhere.  It hides in the nook and crannies, sometimes appearing as a simple haze of green.  It perseveres through masonry, children's footsteps and frost.  The moss of Ireland is as much a constant as it's people.

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