Outside the town of Killarney in County Kerry, Ireland there is a sweeping vista known as Ladies View. (The name refers to a visit to the area by Queen Victoria and her ladies in waiting.)
During the Irish potato famine over 4 million people emigrated from Ireland. People from a particular area would travel together and set up house close to each other in their new country. Potato growing families from Killarney, Ireland were attracted to the rich soils around Tower Hill, Victoria, Australia. They settled the surrounding land and named it Killarney. The view from the top of Tower Hill must have had a vague familiarity in the midst of a strange land where the vegetation and native animals were unlike anything they had seen before.
The similarity ends there for the Killarney area in Victoria Australia bears little resemblance to Killarney in Ireland. Apparently there were white thatched roofed cottages in the early days but these are long gone.
Potatoes are still grown in the area but these days just a smattering of houses sprawl behind the sand dunes. Unlike Killarney in Ireland the Australian Killarney fronts wild beaches on the shores of the Southern Ocean. The weather can be very wild. Currently we Victorians are experiencing our coldest winter in decades. The temperatures have been hovering around 10-12C most days but the icy winds that hurtle in from the sea often mean it feels more like 4 or 5. Sunny days are few yet when they happen the wintery light has a fragile, delicate beauty to it. On such days taking some time out and going for a walk on the beaches of Killarney is joyful.
The sun was hiding behind the clouds but there was blue sky up ahead. Beyond the rocks a series of tiny coves had me wondering just how you measure the shore for the sea slides across the sand in overlapping fractal curves that mirror the curves of the dunes.
It was low tide and the sea was very calm. As I walked the clouds slipped away and the sun emerged – a weak, gentle winter sun that set the intertidal pools shimmering.
Wandering along the hard sand just above the tide line I came to an old friend, a giant log that is too big to be swept out to sea with the storms. Someone once told me the log has been here for at least 50 years. The sea moves it around the beach but it always stays in that particular cove. Last summer it was horizonal to the shore but the winter storms have swung it round so that it now faces the sea head on.
Half a century or more of weather has polished and bleached the timber so that feels like silk beneath the hand. It is a log that invites you to caress it, to sit upon it and to photograph it.
The longer I spent with the log photographing it’s nooks and crannies the more it came to feel to like a being, some strange entity sculpted by the elements and crafted by time into some kind of sentience – a presence.
I became so absorbed in photographing the log I forgot about everything else and entered some timeless zone of complete absorption in the moment. Eventually something pulled me back into an awareness of time passing and the day wearing on – perhaps it was a cloud drifting across the sun or a breath of wind that suggested the ephemeral beauty of the day would soon be replaced by an approaching cold front.
I lifted my eyes from the log and regained a sense of myself within larger landscape.
I have been to Killarney in Ireland and spent time in those misty hills amidst tumbling, haunting ruins. The dark mysterious forests and strange twisted trees resonate with some ancient Celtic part of my ancestral being.
I am glad I have seen these things and gazed about the world in the north. These days though communing with a log upon a southern beach is oddly satisfy.
linked to : Jo’s Monday Walk