The Enchanted Garden 3: the fine art of fruitfulness

There is always a place in any garden of mine for roses, because roses make my heart glad. But the truth is that there is little that makes my heart gladder than to eat something I’ve grown myself in my garden. To me, the perfect, most enchanted garden is a rather messier version of the classic French potager: flowers, fruit, herbs and vegetables all mixed in together – together with a few hens (we have five) and a bee hive or two. (Or three, in our case.) Read More

The Enchanted Garden 1: Weedwifery and the mythic imagination

In a chapter of The Enchanted Life entitled ‘Coming Home to Ourselves’, I wrote about the ways in which we can deepen our relationship and sense of belonging to the place we live: specifically, to our houses – and to our gardens, if we’re lucky enough to have one. And I am. Regular readers of this blog will know that I moved back to Connemara around a year ago, after three years in Donegal. The rather strange house we now live in sits in the middle of what, once upon a time, might have been thought of as a garden. Here’s how I described it in The Enchanted Life: Read More

The storytelling animal: an extract from ‘The Enchanted Life’

It’s just two weeks now until The Enchanted Life is officially published. In some ways, it seems like an age has passed since I handed the final manuscript over to my editor at the beginning of October; in other ways it seems all too recent, as I find myself some days still in the throes of what my husband calls ‘post-book traumatic stress disorder’.

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Re-enchanting the Winter Solstice: an invitation

(Image by Catherine Hyde.)

In my last post, I wrote about building a new folk culture based on our native traditions. This seems especially urgent to me now, surrounded as we all are at this time of year by the consumption-driven madness that calls itself Christmas. Even here in the wilds of Connemara, it isn’t possible to escape it. Turn on the radio or the TV, and we’re deluged by ads urging us to buy, buy, buy. Burn the planet, so that for one lunatic day of the year we can wear red hats and snowflake-embroidered sweaters and drink and eat more than is moral, frankly, and imagine everything is perfect and there’s nothing wrong with us – we’re all quite sane, honestly, and we’re sure the planet will be just fine. But we don’t need to ask for whom the jingle bells toll: they’re tolling for us – have been for decades – and still we can’t seem to help ourselves. Buy, buy, buy.

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The Hedge Revival: wisdom from the margins

It’s a funny creature, the word ‘hedge’: like all the best words, it’s something of a shapeshifter. In one sense we use it to convey a boundary, something which closes us in. Think of the modern suburban hedge: regimented rows of neatly clipped, soulless leylandii; privet which has been so harshly treated that it forgets how to bloom. But in another sense, we use the word ‘hedge’ to indicate something quite different: the wild margins which surround the cultivated fields. Think now of the gnarly old hedgerows of Britain and Ireland: thick, richly flowering, berried hawthorn and elder, blackthorn and hazel. An abundance of food and shelter for wild things. Secret places, where treasure might be found, where birds might speak to you, and foxes sing to the stars. An ancient hedge is a place where anything might happen. A liminal place, where the wisdom of the wild margins is available to all. Hedge wisdom. Read More

Myth and story as an act of placemaking: the transcript

For those of you who requested a transcript of yesterday’s audio file, here it is.

It’s not quite dawn in this green, fertile valley; there’s just the faintest glimmer of pink in the sky to the east. The moon is waxing, its light silvering the river which winds through the land, soft like the curves of a woman’s body as she stretches out to dip her toes in the sea. At the crossroads, three hares are sitting quite still in the middle of the road; they scatter when they become aware of me, tails flashing white in the moonlight then fading into the dark. Read More