The sky at ten thirty pm is a soft apricot with a tint of blue, a wash of something else that is not possible to describe and a segment of moon that looks like it was torn fresh from a tangerine and thrown at the horizon where it sticks and hangs tentatively. Peaceful place. Heavenly home. All around me peace. I can hear the magical, comforting sound of my fourteen year old son talking to his father downstairs in the kitchen. It is a lovely sound, telling and trusting. A car passes by out on the road, swoosh, soft and non threatening and birdsong is still out there too, in the garden at this late hour. The windows are open, the night mild and balmy, the storms have passed. It is nearing the end of May and all is well in this homestead by the bog.
I spent the last three hours trawling the Ocean Volvo Race in Galway city. I felt threatened by the thousands of people walking around the boats and the music and the fire dancers and the sails and the booths selling knick knacks and the women dressed to the nines in the highest of heels and mini dresses. I sat at a table by the docks and people watched. I saw them coming by like a giant wave toward me, humanity at its best and its worst. Drinking louts and women pushing babies. I saw the woman, I know from my son's school and a man I know from my past and other people, until faces all meshed and formed one big collage. I thought God, here we all are, for what? A tangled mass of humanity persuading ourselves we need it. A bunch of boats and stands selling Paella and Garlic Potatoes from Cyprus and Cappucinos and Smoked Salmon and coloured socks when, really we should all be at home talking to one another and finding out what really is going on inside our heads.
Our culture has lost the plot. Too often we look outward, to the material. Today I built the soil up around our potatoes growing in the vegetable garden. I dug into fresh black earth and lifted it with my bare hands and patted it around the plants and made sure they were tucked in safe and sound. I am not saying I am a wonderful person by any means or better than the next Irish person out there, but there was something very satisfying in doing what I did. I was feeding and caring for what I am growing. And more than that I was feeding something, a potato plant, that has tremendous significance to my culture. It reminds me of why I came here in the first place, of why I pulled my family out of a good life in the United States and dragged them over here without any assurances. I was growing potatoes, I was. I was planting a potato with a tiny stalk and from that miserable eye or stalk many more would grow. At least that's what was promised. Tonight, watching the Irish parade by in all their finery I wondered if any of them have had a potato on their plates today never mind knowing what it is like to bank up the black soil, bend down on your knees and cradle the plant, carefully cover the green stalks and cross your fingers that the blight won't reach it. All the time aware that something more subtle, far more lethal and out of your control might kill the crop.