You gotta love any country that burns dirt to stay warm.
Peat. Compressed dirt.
Takes a thousand years to make ten inches of the stuff. It's freaking magic. The bog, the gorse, the moor, the taiga, whatever you want to call the Irish countryside, gets buried under itself and becomes this dark, umber-black, amateur charcoal.
Travel around Ireland and you can see it cut into strips looking like long rails of chocolate waiting for the rain to pause so it can dry.
Burns slower than wood, but faster than coal.
Has a unique... smell…..I'm told.
Bog. What an awesome anglo viking saxon word. Dent. Bent. Ax. Bog. All good.
I just got to Belfast and have realized what the whole trip was for.
So I could get to Belfast.
Love this place. Love the people. Hilarious piss takers, shit talking slangy Pict Irish ruffians in a proud armed city, Proddys and Taigs side by side.
Feels like Pittsburgh. With bombs.
With the occasional bomb I mean, and what that would do to the people's parlance.
Dad said we were Ulster Scots and now I firmly believe it. I belong here. I'm of them. Some things you just realize smack as you walk thru the door. Family at first sight.
Abhor the politics and the "Ulsterism" but this is the Ireland I'm a son of.
Ah well. Maybe a great great great great grandson of once removed but...
The Giro D'Italia runs thru Belfast tomorrow to add a tang of the absurd. Im going to wake up and watch thousands of Euro types hooting for their favorite diarrhetic burn victim athlete in a town that doesn't normally wake up till 9.
I might start drinking early.
Drove the whole northern curve of Ireland today. From Sligo to Belfast. Stood on Europe's highest cliffs- for a moment my Cabela's hat was the highest seaside object in the EU. (Full disclosure I've never worked for them or any other crypto-fascist supply outlet).
Screw the Cliffs of Moher - named strangely enough for my friend Malhar ( good work on the bog to table restaurant you've started over here my man) and go to these Slieve League cliffs which are higher and far more majestical. And God bless the Irish for continually not giving a damn if there's any kind of formal stairs to be found along a trail. Makes the journey seem routed in one's fantastical childhood imagination. You step from a stream bed to a set of rocks to heaps of turf that may or may not be related to the human foot, to a path that drops 1000 feet in either direction (God Bless the fog too, best not to know how you're gonna die) and it's a lot like being ten again, searching the neighborhood for "trails" and secret hideaways and the bushy doorway to some enchanted clearing.
Every point of the progress of a trip across the Irish countryside every nook and cranny is uneven, off true, bent. There's not a straight line or plumb surface to be found. The landscape continually alters. The fingers and the feet of whatever God built the place must have been constantly active. You feel you could lay any story into any corner of it. Or that someone, eons of someones already have. It's remarkable. It's a place lousy with narrative. They harvest narrative here.
And it's lush. My God it is. Fecund, seething with life, creeping growing piled up life. There's more water here than Seattle and Pittsburgh combined. It's a green and dark green Irish jungle. The Connemara, Sligo, Donegal, wow they are packed with streams and lakes and heaps of moss and turf dripping over whatever pathway or wall we've put between them and wherever it is they want to go.
Drove drove drove it all. Which when you realize the place is the size of Maine doesn't mean much. Roads the width of the average driveway in Bloomfield. As if they took the Big Sur coast road, squeezed it a touch and laid it over Ireland. Over and over again. Donegal, Ballybofey, Derry (yes DERRY!), Portrush, Ballymoney, Kells, and here, where the 3-d Titanic Experience auditorium is bigger than the ship itself.
The last 20 miles -and when you get to the NI it becomes miles again and things take longer to get to damn it!- the last 20 were on a major highway that could have (dis) graced any American city. You descend on it into Eastern Belfast thru some light hills, the road cuts below the neighborhoods and at the last overpass before I hit the city proper I saw on one side the Irish tricolor high on a pole and on the other the Union Jack.
Oh, the politics. Am I this am I that….what American could have any idea without living here?