Tuesday, January 15

Day 2

Terrified of missing my only guaranteed meal of the day, I woke up at 5:30 and was sitting in the dining room at 6am.

Breakfast wasn't served until 7, and I scared the innkeeper half to death when she came in. I had a book and was reading quietly, but she wasn't expecting anyone to be lurking in her dining room at the butt crack of dawn.

Breakfast was bacon and eggs.

Now, in all honesty, it never occurred to me that the eggs would not be cooked to order. I had, in my sheltered life, eaten my eggs scrambled. Period. Fried eggs with their oozing yolks had never appeared on my plate. Until that morning. gulp.

I already felt bad for scaring her and making her feel like I was rushing her to feed me, and now I was looking down at two yellow eyes staring back at me, along with the thickest, most undercooked slab of pork ever. On the side, making the plate ever so pretty, were three slices of HOT tomato.

The need to be cool, urbane, and grown-up (and the terror of complaining) overrode my squeamishness, and much like the grinch, my palate grew two sizes that day. (The grinch grew three sizes, but that undercooked pork stayed on my plate like a red headed stepchild.) Still not a fan of the HOT tomato, but I gained a new appreciation for the humble egg.

I wandered the city until my bus tour started, thoroughly enchanted by the Georgian architecture (jeebus, I think it's all Georgian) with the brightly painted doors. I made it to the bus pick up and boarded the bus for Glendalough.

I guess a jaded Irish native would be sick to death of the happy rural stereotypes and scream that the REAL Ireland is nothing like The Quiet Man with John Wayne. They would be right, Dublin was a major City with all of the accompanying baggage. There were streets I wandered into that I quickly turned back around and got back to the tourist friendly path. But the people? They were every bit as friendly and helpful as the drunkest American's St Patrick's Day fantasy, and the landscape was every bit as green and lush.

As I rode that butt numbing bus into County Wicklow, we had to stop for sheep blocking the road. The bus driver explained that the gorgeous fields of yellow flowers were actually giant gorse bushes, the dreaded weed. Didja follow that link? Because it's a terrible gnarly weed, full of spikes and things.  But it's gorgeous to see a field full of it.  As we rolled though this incredibly lush green landscape, with little stone walls older than the town I grew up in, even their freaking WEEDS are pretty.

(Northern California break again: lots of red dirt, scrub oak, and manzanita bushes. Everything's a dull sage green or gray brown--even the birds are dull brown.)

We arrived at Glendalough  and once again, the history and blood and passion that goes into a historical church is just beyond comprehension  without seeing it.    I was raised Seventh Day Adventist (itself a "new" and not-so-historical religion) and am not terribly religious, but I am reverent, and that's the best word I can come up with.  The little stone church no longer had a roof, and long before there was stained glass, the church window was composed of these stones edging an arched opening looking out into the most beautiful peaceful valley. It looked like pictures I drew as a kid. Two big green hills overlapping, with a river meandering between them. The stones edged the window like jagged grey fingers, jutting into the view of the two perfect hills. This tiny stone church stands in the valley, like it has for ages, held together with mud, blood, animal hair, and faith. Looking out at that valley it's not hard to understand why they had such a faith in a God that gave them such a beautiful place to live (at least until the Vikings came and they had to scurry to the tower). I get that same feeling coming into San Francisco from the north, those lush rolling hills must have truly seemed like the promised land to people arriving by ship after who knows how long at sea...


kim said...

ooh i love your story ....and you tell it beautifully :)

Glendalough said...

I like your writing, it gives an interesting take on things. However I wonder could you link to my Glendalough page - it is here http://www.walkinginireland.org/glendalough/ Thanks.