Air, Water, Earth and Fire

Lough Sillan, Co. Cavan.

I needed to get some air. Clear my head. Breathe. Feel the wind ruffle my hair. Listen to the sound of birds, let the slap of water on the shore soothe away my tension. I needed to feel small and inconsequential in that vastness of space and light, a part of it, but not the hub. To stand on the periphery and see it all, feel it, relax and enjoy it.

To watch the trees stoop and lower trailing, knotted branches into the water like aged fingers gnarled with arthritis. To listen to the protest of their rustling leaves as they are pulled into autumn and cast off. To follow their bright drifting path from sky to earth, lighting up the chill with their last flare of fiery russet glory. To watch the clouds gather, then melt apart. To watch the sunlight dance on wind-rumpled water. To travel the winding path. To rise and descend the sloping shoulders of the gently rounded, green-robed hills. To remember the warmth of summer which leaves us too soon. I just needed to be.

Tomorrow, everything changes. Another whirlwind year in which I will lose myself until summer comes around and I stand there dazed, wondering how all those days and weeks and months passed without my notice. My face will be in books, my thoughts planning essays, my body moving through the manufactured spaces of home, car, and uni, my hands turning from pen to chores, and back. I will adopt and discard roles like outfits: mother, student, wife, author, blogger. I am excited, nervous, alternately filled with anticipation and dread.

I will step outside of myself and become someone else, a hybrid with many facets. I quite like her, this new me. Although she still carries all her old guilts and flaws, and a few new ones besides. I am surprised no one else sees her. At Lough Sillan, I felt the water lap at my toes, felt the wind kiss my face, watched the fire of autumn claim the green hills, felt the throb of the earth beneath my feet, and I felt grounded. I was ready. I took a deep breath, and let my old self go.

Lough Sillan, Co. Cavan. This is Lough Sillan at lunch-time yesterday. It is where I found peace.

Lough Sillan is a lake in Co. Cavan, upon the shores of which nestles the little town of Shercock, Searcóg in Irish (learn how to say it here.). According to The National Folklore Collection, Dúchas, Shercock originated in the place where the lake is now. There used to be a bridge with a well beside it, which was covered with a trap door. One day, a girl went to collect water from the well, but she forgot to close the door behind her. The water rose up through the door so fast, that it had soon overtaken her, and she could barely run fast enough to escape it.

The roaring water followed her all the way through the village. Fortunately, but perhaps not so much for her, a man working in a nearby field saw what was happening. He knew that if he didn’t stop the girl, the water would continue chasing her and flood the whole country. Taking up his scythe, he chopped the legs from under the girl with one swipe, and she fell to the ground. Instantly the water lay still, but it was too late. The town of Shercock was lost beneath the depths. People out fishing on the lake still say that sometimes, when water levels are low, the roofs of the old houses of the original town of Shercock can still be seen beneath the glinting surface of the lake.

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28 Comments on “Air, Water, Earth and Fire

    • Doing my best Lawrence. Reading week this week, and the first round of essays have kicked in. But its all good. How’s things with you?


  1. I love the way you see the world ~ “I needed to feel small and inconsequential in that vastness of space and light, a part of it, but not the hub.” This is a feeling I think we can all relate to, and nothing feels better than when you are able to find such a special place to do so. Wishing you a great year aheaad 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Randall. As a woman in her 50s I often feel invisible, and that’s ok. I quite like it, actually. But as a mother, I do feel like the hub in my family. I need to get away from that pressure sometimes. Thanks for stopping by, and all the best to you. 😊


  2. My, you still a wonderful way with words, Ali. I was hooked from the line ‘To listen to the protest of their rustling leaves as they are pulled into autumn and cast off.’ Such wonderful poetry.
    And thank you for sharing the story about the village of Shercock. A rather chilling story. I, somehow, would like to be on a boat in the middle of that lake.
    Good luck with the upcoming new year at uni.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Hugh. 😄 Actually there’s a much worse true story about that lake involving a boat and a group of schoolchildren, but we won’t go into that. 😥

      Liked by 1 person

        • Ooops! Sorry about that. That would be distressing, as they were soooooo bad! But you write wickedly twisted stories yourself, so I’m surprised it bothered you. 😁

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Beautiful word painting, Ali. I remember the days of being a multitasking momma and how I treasured a day or two of peace at the beach. Take a deep breath and let the games begin!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Word painting… Love that, Noelle! Thank you. I never think of myself as a visual person, but when I wrote that I was seeing everything I saw when I was there earlier… so yes, word painting is very apt. 😊 I am having my hair done right now, and meeting some friends after, so feeling very relaxed, thank you… just love when someone washes my hair for me, always relaxes. And the sun is shining today, I can see green through the window, and my first week of uni felt like a bucket of bricks dumped on me but still it was good! Hope all is good with you, thanks for the encouragement. Xxx 😄


  4. I love this. So much. Nature and human nature and Self. You are truly my twin soul. The whole post was lovely but I especially related to the first half. I am so happy you found peace, if only for a little while. Gorgeous spot. Best of luck to you, my friend. 💕

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Sarah! Thank you for the lovely compliment. I read a book recently which I think you might enjoy: Tangleweed by Deirdre Sullivan. Its a feminist revision of the heroines of fairy tales, and its dark style and delicious prose is much like yours. As I was reading it, I was reminded so much of you. Also, if Women Rose Rooted by Sharon Blackie is a creative non-fiction about women’s connection to the land as revealed through myth and the author’s experiences. First day was fine, and actually, it was nice to be back on campus and catch up with friends. But the pressure is on this year. 😳 Hope life is good for you. I am so massively out of the loop this year.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You are so out of the loop, you didn’t see how out of the loop I am. It’s pretty bad.

        Glad your first day was okay. You’ll get through it. (I’ve said before but will say I’m here for cheerleading, if you need it, but don’t spread the word as it’ll mess with my dark-streak image.) Will check out those books. Thank you! 💕💕💕

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Love your writing, as always. Your connection with Nature is sweet. My own is bittersweet because since being sober for a year, it has “come out” that I am —- gay. The revelation has been gradual, and part of me still wants to turn around and hide away. But it wouldn’t be Nature I would rebuke; it is society, which I think we agree is a “Christendom” that supposedly fits everybody. What would be my mythology of choice? Far from Christian, which bothers to specifically proscribe gay love. It is classical mythology, of course. As for Nature, this entity that is equal opportunity, of course I’m a fan of it. She doesn’t make mistakes, does she? She produces gay people and straights alike, a whole spectrum of colors and creeds. I fancy my favorite animal in Nature is the seahorse… Take care. And I’ll probably have to leave my church!… One more afterthought: please follow this link and read the post it takes you to? Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I left you a message on your post. You are on a long hard journey, Rob. But it sounds like you are well on your way and coping with your challenges. It makes sense to me that schizophrenia might arise from the suppression of oneself. Not that I know anything about this, but I can see the connection. I also like the seahorse… it is one of the few animals where the male of the species nurtures the young… although there are also many species which share the responsibility, of course. I dont think nature makes mistakes, although perhaps she made a big blunder in the evolution of mankind! 😄 Perhaps I should say humankind. I’m sorry you feel you have to leave your church. Is that on account of you being gay? I believe we can be spiritual beings without joining large religious organisations. I am not religious and dont feel anything is missing from my life. I hope you find peace and learn to be happy with who you are. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve read both messages; thanks a lot. It is for the androgyny of the species that I LOVE seahorses, plus they look so fantastic, like something out of a dream. Yes, I am very spiritual without religion. Plato’s philosophy is metaphysical and the man was gay (not surprising for an ancient Greek). Platonism has also influenced some big poets of the 19th Century, my favorite being Percy Bysshe Shelley (who was straight). You might’ve known that I nearly drank myself to death. Likely a deliberate suicide attempt, the slow way. Yeah, the road has been and will be long and hard. But I have the mettle (I love this word) for it now. If you wanna be in my corner, give Beauty Is Truth a follow? Thanks!


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