Just in the nick of time

Adam and I made it out of town for a long weekend in Montebello on the last weekend of February just before all Hell broke loose with COVID-19. I am very thankful we got away when we did. Our stay was brief, but extremely relaxing. We visited Omega Park to admire the wildlife they protect and above all it allowed me to rediscover a lake my father’s family has had a cottage on for years. I spent a lot of time by the lake when I was little and my father grew up spending weeks and weekends there and he absolutely adored it. Rediscovering the area was very moving for me and Adam and I found a cottage to rent on the same lake that I booked when we got back home. We have a few days planned up there in July and I have my fingers crossed that by then, we will be allowed to venture out of town for the stay.

Current events have been upsetting to say the least. We have all had such huge adjustments to make and have all had to make changes to our plans. Travel cancelled or postponed, family events and celebrations as well, jobs temporarily lost. As I have mentioned before, Adam and my family plans have been completely thrown out of kilter as well. I have gone through huge waves of depression with all of this and have felt very isolated and anxious as well. Many people have had these same feelings and it does help me to read about how other people are feeling. I have been trying to find hope and serenity where I can amid the sadness and confusion. As someone who enjoys routine and relies on it to help stabilize my mood I have enjoyed watching my garden slowly come back to life, flowers bloom and buds open. I have also enjoyed jogging once more and in air that is cleaner than anything I have seen in my neighborhood since I came here to visit my grandparents when I was a child. I have been able to see Mount Sutton and Jay Peak clearly every single day since the end of March, Adam and I could even see snow falling on the mountains to the South one day. It was breathtaking. I have a vague hope that others have been taking the time to enjoy their homes and reflect on  how they can keep their lives simpler and less harried after all of this is over. While I am looking forward to returning to my job, my horseback riding, choir and exercise class, I am looking at how I can shuffle my schedule to make my days flow more smoothly. I hope that some people will discover that working from home is easier for them than spending hours every week stuck in traffic, so there will be fewer cars on the road. I am also hoping that cities and countries who were grappling with the negative effects of mass tourism will find ways of getting in under control. I have found Ireland and England to be masters of this. Many attractions have timed entries and forbid photos inside buildings. If you pay to go in, they force you to truly enjoy your experience instead of taking a selfie and moving on and if you want souvenir photos, you have to pay for a book of official photos and money  from its purchase goes directly to the upkeep of the heritage site. I truly believe the mentality surrounding our lifestyle and our priorities has to change. My paternal grandmother spent years saying this before she passed away two years ago. What is happening to the human race right now is a tragedy beyond a shadow of a doubt but it is also a massive wake up call. How many of us who could often not find the time to call or see a friend or family member would now do anything just to hug them and sit down with them for a cup of coffee or to share a meal? I hope we can all find ways to alter our habits in order to make more time for those we love.

 

My most memorable moments in Ireland

 

The overwhelming sense of awe at the sight a smell of thousands upon thousands of ancient books in Trinity College’s old library.

The smell of roasting barley coming from the Guiness Brewery, which our apartment was down the street from.

The first sights, sounds and smells of true Spring we were treated to after a very long, hard winter.

The feeling of connecting with a huge swath of my ancestors when we arrived in Cork and saw my great-grandmother’s maiden name everywhere.

The kindness of the caretaker at Saint Fin Barr’s Cathedral who turned on the lights in the church when he saw me taking photo after photo of the place where my great-grandmother’s family more than likely spent time in prayer.

The endless views of impeccably kept famers fields and how green they were, even so early in the season.

The understanding I gained for the pain that my ancestors must have felt when they made the difficult decision to leave such a beautiful country.

How priveleged I felt to visit Newgrange and the Hill of Tara, sites of burial and worship that are more ancient than both Stonehenge and the pyramids of Egypt.

The hope I felt upon seeing a single, tiny purple flower growing out of the wall of the Elizabeth Fort in Cork. I saw myself in that flower.

The sense of belonging I felt, almost as soon as we arrived. I felt quite at home in magical, mystical, misty Ireland.

If you have Irish roots, I cannot encourage you enough to go visit Ireland, no matter how long ago your family came over. I had one Irish great-grandmother whose parents came over to Quebec in the late 19th Century. She was a Lynch and they were from Cork. I had another great-grandmother who was half Irish and half Scottish. Her father was a Malloy and we unfortunately know much less about her Irish ancestry. Regardless of this, I still felt a strong link to Ireland and its people, namely because for the first time in my life I found myself in country filled with short, pale-skinned, freckled folk with reddish, dirty blonde hair and blue eyes. I grew tearful when I realised just how Irish I actually look. Never lose your connection to your ancestry and if you can, visit the country your family has roots in. You will never be sorry you did.