The wind is howling outside, whistling down the chimney and slightly unsettling the dog as he slumbers on the rug in front of the roaring fire. The girls are in bed and I am reading. The scent of my recently brewed coffee mixes with the fragrant smell of turf on the fire. Fatcat is sitting on the windowsill staring into the velvety blackness of the night. Does he see the canopy of stars overhead? The photographer is back in Dublin but will be joining us tomorrow for the weekend. The school bags and wellingtons are by the door, ready for the walk to school in the morning. I close the curtains to retain the heat before placing the guard in front of the fire and retiring to bed. As I lie in the bed the silence is thick, broken only by the faint roar of the waves in the distance. It’s 11pm.
11am next day and the sky is blue with puffs of cotton wool clouds scuttling across its huge expanse. I am at the table by the window, laptop open, my novel coming to life as my fingers dance across the keys. The dog is outside, exploring the landscape which is as yet not fully familiar to him. Through the window I can see the ocean and the coastline of Connemara. The ferry should be arriving about now down at the pier. In a couple of hours I will visit the local shop and purchase something for dinner tonight. The photographer will arrive by air late this afternoon. Its two weeks since he last visited and he will be staggered to hear how much Irish the girls have now learned.
3pm and the girls arrive home. I leave them to their homework and cycle down to the village shop. Dylan comes too – jogging along the road beside me. On the way I greet my neighbours as Gaeilge and stop for a chat with the teacher who is closing the school. She compliments me on my weekly column for the Irish Times. She says I am being very honest about my year of living on Inis Meain.
I haven’t worn make up all week and I probably should check that my hair dryer still works at some stage. It starts to rain... sideways. I am soaked by the time I arrive back home but invigorated by the energetic weather here.
10pm and we are once again gathered around the fire chatting about Christmas. For the first time in years we won’t see any family during the holidays but we are happy to embrace all aspects of this experimental year on the Aran Islands. Outside the wind is throwing handfuls of rain against the windows. The photographer has brought a lovely bottle of wine. We miss our Friday night take out... but all is well.
All of the above takes place in my head. I visit these scenes when I am out walking, in the bath or sometimes sitting in my car waiting for the girls to come out of school. There is something special in the air on the Aran Islands. Something which speaks to my soul, my very essence. It calls to me... faintly. I hear it and I dream of some day answering the siren call from the very edge of Europe. In the meantime I dream.... and sometimes just that is good enough.
Photo by horizons inesperats on Flickr