Before plopping myself down on the earthy forest floor and hitting record on my camera to document the meditative ripples that transpire within the forestry lagoon that inspired the Pools Film, I took many photos that gave the same filmic effect and have superimposed them for that same elemental visage. With every falling drop of snow the resulting photograph is a drastic change from the last resulting in a plethora of different colours and textures – an addictive waiting game where I spent hours watching and capturing the unpredictability as it unfolded, listening to the many calming drip sounds so that I can snap away.
This weeks kick about prompt over at Reds Kingdom being the art, life and times of the Austrian painter, Eugen von Ransonnet-Villez, and with it inspired an experience I had when I returned to the forest this past winter. I happened to come upon a small trench like lagoon deep within the caverns of the forest where the snow above was melting and gently plopping into the lagoon. The lagoon was shallow meaning I could see the dirt, grasses and flowers filtering about in the water with the slightest movement. The glare of the crispy winter sun projecting shadows of the spruces and firs, lighting certain areas of the undergrowth in a vibrant red, the trees and shrubbery being reflected upon the water causing a mandala of colours to be refracted and ripple as snow drops fell from above.
Experiencing this was one of most pleasurable tranquil experiences I have ever had. I sat and watched this private show for a long time and felt as though time had frozen along with my hands. I pressed record on my camera and although I didn’t have a tripod which meant for some shakiness It was an absolute pleasure to edit this film and with it I have attempted to capture that feeling of complete tranquility. The song by Kris Keogh entitled “We Were Gone Further Than Forever” transported me back to that tranquil meditative state again, with sections feelings like time moving, flowing and reversing, correlating full circle to an eco system of nature where everything becomes one with the earth again.
Some further photos from my return to the Forest, this time deeper within the shrubbery and depths of the forest where much of the melting snow only reaching the very tops of the tree arches high above and open areas not secluded by the pines and firs. I particularly notice those grooves notched into the earth where stumps of previous trees once laid and where the dirt was laid higher along trenches for the planting of the tree life. The snow from the other side of the neighbouring land not having trees dotted on every inch but instead wide open meant that the brilliant white light of the snow penetrated through to our forestry – adding a white rim light like ghostly frozen fog to the already ominous scene and highlighting those curvy, warped grooves of the tree linings, trunks and tendrils. Pointing and staring towards the direction of the neighbouring snow makes the scene feel like an angelic view of a world not far from reach and one that you cannot help but float blindly towards, the many seemingly empty holes in the ground from badgers and foxes makes you wonder if they have come-hither towards the light too.
Castle Hackett is a mountainous area that overlooks the westerly emerald green of Ireland and is teaming with folklore, heritage and history. We walked up the crispy frost ridden Knockma mountain taking in the the dewy landscape paying close attention to the brightly coloured little fairy doors nestled into the grooves of many of the windy twisted trees, the minuscule doors an offering and an opening to the fairies that are housed in the whimsical area.
I was in awe at the greenery that sheltered us like canopies over head, made only more impressive by the glistening frost that coated the little details within the mountains flora.
And where a rather confident, cubby ball of a little robin was more than happy for me to get close enough for a photo op
As we started to make our way to the peak of the mountain an opening in the wall was lit with golden hour orange where I was blinded momentarily from the light, my eyes only adjusting when I seen the view laid before me…
Castle Hacketts history and folklore is abundant, there is tombs or cairns around Knockma mountain where the owners of Castle Hackett are buried and lined with ritual significance. The fairy king Finvarra is the king of the Daoine Sidhe which translates from Gaeilge to “People of the mounds” and was a leader of The Eos Sí pronounced “ees shee” which is the term for the supernatural race and world in Irish Mythology. His wife Queen Maeve is also buried inside the Knockma mountain in a similar cairn.
They are both buried apparently upright so even in death they can look over the castle in the distance. Castle Hackett house was used as a place of refuge for horses to remedy their ailments in the many indoor swimming pools that the mansion had, the mansion now a story short of its original 3 from a fire started in the Irish Civil War.
I love learning about Irelands rich heritage and folklore, they never felt like old wives tales to me when it was drilled into us by our Grannies and Grandads to “never fuck with a fairy tree”. We were told of one particular story where a woman trying to warm her family in the bitter winter chopped up a fairy tree to add as fuel for the fire, The fairy tree recoiled from the fire, burning the woman’s leg initially and leaving the house and children left as nothing but ash. They might seem cute but rather devious if harmed. Never fuck with the fairy folk. If you would like to learn more about the history of Castle Hackett you can do so be following this link
I promised I would return to this enchanted forest this Winter after reliving the memories that this forest holds with a recent kick about reflecting on the words of Robert Frost. I did return to the forest when we got a dumping of snow and I relished in all its sensory overload.
As I was editing these pictures I could hear the birds, I can feel the clean air through the bristles of my beard, I can hear the sound of melting snow dropping from the Spruce’s above into a water filled trench below, I can feel myself watching the water ripple as the drippings lapped the forest colours in a mesmerising kaleidoscope, I could feel the snow squelch beneath my boots as I walked further and further. I could feel it all as if the images from my laptop imploded into a projection around my room in an augmented reality of memories and senses.
This is where you do lockdown right, how you spend your time correctly in a worldwide pandemic. In a place and surroundings that don’t feel like it has been gripped by the turmoil of Miss Rona. It doesn’t feel like anything is starkly different here because in all reality, it isn’t. It is untouched and it always will be. I miss the sheer joy on my dogs faces as they jumped with glee to see that I was taking out the leash from the shed to go on another daily adventure. I miss my neighbours allowing me to hop over the fence in their yard and trudge through the shite in my wellies to find mini universes iced over in the ponds and lakes that weave amongst the surplus of trees. I miss the smells, I miss the air, I miss the peace. I miss it.
It was lovely and frosty here today, the ground well into the afternoon still having uncracked puddles with white speckly paint strokes and air bubbles frozen in time as icy metallic spirals meander around pebbles.
I continued along the frozen puddles peppered along the backroad until the road disappeared into the vegetation and I where I started to get lost in the forestry ferns, sitka spuces’s and speckled birch trees, where the light of the crisp golden hour evening lit the land in a brilliant gold.
The music of this weeks Kick About prompt over on Reds Kingdom felt very christmasy and warm indeed. To me nothing feels more christmasy than going for a walk in the countryside of Ireland where the invigorating air hits you with pure refreshment and the frost glistens the shrubbery and flora. I spent a lot of my time when I was a young lad outside building rickety hideouts and treehouses with my friends and cousins. Going for a walk near my family home always feels like I am dipping into my memory fault where walking past a particular tree will spark a memory of us building and climbing away, walking through the grasses of the fields reminds me of being cut by barbed wire and being so dumbfounded by having fun that I didn’t realise I was bleeding with barbed wire marks in my palms.
I remember the beehive that was camouflaged into the ground of a particular field in perpendicular view from the balcony of our home, when all us had awoken the beast I can only imagine the sight of seeing us all running and screaming our heads off from the balcony as we ran for our lives away from the angry hive. Memories like that are scattered around the countryside of Ireland, they will echo as I stroll past them and now that I am older I can really appreciate them. Although all the hideouts and treehouses are dismantled, the trails that were grinded down are now full of vegetation again, It’s the clean air and the bright stars that haven’t changed.
Although isolation has for now stopped me from revisiting those actual areas of my past I remember them as I walk through the bogland surrounding my Mams house where I know I would have been in my element too when I was younger. I am still drawn to those picturesque areas and the crisp clean air, and I really appreciate the little bird houses built into the trees to shelter the birds in the bitter winter. I still sometimes walk past a particular tree and think – that would have been a good one.
This weeks kick About over at Reds Kingdom – The Woods are Lovely, Dark and Deep by Robert Frost can be viewed here. With my offering for this weeks prompt below.
“My family owns a few chunks of land in rural Ireland, one of which is the forestry and pictured here on a typical misty, wintry morning in the back arse of nowhere. The forestry is populated with pine trees and used to house some of our horses – Dawn, Jessy and the majestic Esmerelda along with the cows. The animals are no longer, unfortunately we sold them off for whatever reason. The stables still remain with sprinklings of hay still scattered around its edges and when the weather calls for it – downy flake. I remember the forestry and the surrounding areas with utmost joy as it houses a lot of fond memories of my rambunctious, pubescent teenage years.
Me and my cousin and a family friend used to creep around our houses in the dead of night, tip toeing about the place to steal whatever booze and cigarettes we could find until ultimately my parents noticed the dwindling of the expensive, ancient wine in our wine cellar; and subsequently bought a padlock (that I got a hold of and got a key copied). Sometimes I would steal a cigar or two from our unbeknownst slumbering parents and when the weather was bitter and frosting over the pavements – as most harsh, Irish winters are, we used to meet up and collate all of our stash together, we were once lucky enough that a friend who would join us sometimes managed to score some poitín – an Irish illegal moonshine that is so strong it can apparently make you blind… it certainly didn’t have that of a dramatic affect on us but fuck, it burned our chests as it went down and our vision was definitely impaired after drinking enough of the liquid lava.
We drank and smoked into the early hours of the morning sliding and jumping on the frosty, black plastic wrapped bales of hay, thee odd time we played music that we recorded off the tv on our Nokia phones, we sat in the cold that we no longer felt and looked to the stars and chatted about probable nonsense with the night in Ireland being as black as the void, the stars would glisten and litter the sky in a spectacle, dancing even in our inebriated states; Esmerelda, Dawn and Jessy and of course the cows would gather around us watching with perplexing bemusement. little tuffs of smoke would be plumbing out of the surrounding houses chimneys in the distance as they started to burn out. I’m not sure why we mainly did this in the flesh tingling cold of winter or why I remember it the most, I think we just wanted something to do, something that made it feel like summer again.”
Some of the trees in the forestry have since been cut down and sold off, a pavement runs through its centre which thankfully is starting to return to nature with grass and wildflowers starting to grow over it. The pine trees are being used for Christmas trees with them being chopped down and installed as the yearly Christmas tree in the shithole that is the town I grew up in, probably somewhat of a beacon for the paralytic drunks that live inside the copious amounts of pubs perpetrating the Christmas tree. I don’t feel sorry for them this year. They can fuck off and find some other vice to get through the Christmas; or they can just drink themselves to oblivion in their own homes. I shall revisit the forestry when I return home this Christmas where I think echoes and visions of my memories will resurface.”