My first sketch of the daffodils, the only three daffs of this particular blossom growing in my mother’s garden. Yesterday I walked down to the centre of our little town to see if the florist had any daffodils with different colours and shapes, but alas, he said they’re almost over, and are unavailable to buy, and they’re only to be found in peoples’ gardens…. So today I will go out and peer over garden walls and see what can be found.
Sitting in a grassy patch surrounded by heather and gorse, with a babbling brook below, and cows and ponies free in the moors behind, the sounds that fill the air are so soothing; water over stones, horses whinnying, cows lowing, not to mention the birdsong, and then of course the bees busy in the heather bells I paint…
Stone walls were often the result of clearing the land of rocks so that the land would be more fertile. The rockier the land of the area the more walls there are, and the smaller the fields. The building of them was considered an art form – not everyone could build a functional and beautiful wall, and those who could were respected. Walls as demarkation was of course necessary, but they were never built so that they couldn’t be crossed. They’re a great windbreak, or a prop t lean against for a wee snooze in the sun, and this one has become a support for a blazing gorse bush.
Walls are getting a lot of bad press these days, from Mexico to Calais to Hungary, but the walls in Wicklow are very nice and not trying to keep anyone or thing in or out. They just are.
Returning to the idyllic moors the following morning, there was a large white van parked by our painting spot, with a dune buggy thingy beside it, all big tyres and engine, and a young shirtless man smoking reefer. He was very friendly, and as we set up our paints and settled in, he revved his engine and careened up the track once or twice, but the noise wasn’t an issue as he seemed to prefer to lie on the grass and take in this blissful place.
After an hour or so I heard more young male voices, all thickly accented and cussing away good-oh, an endearing Irish-ism. I looked up from deep within the heather beds and saw another three of them, not far from my mother, but she was deep in painting focus, and a bit hard of hearing, which in this case served her well. It transpired that one of them had driven his car into the ditch as he was coming up the track, a track littered with large stones and bordered by ditches – more like massive moats really – dug by farmers to keep the likes of these joy-riders out. Being high, into the ditch he went, hence the profusion of profanity, and the subsequent smoking of more reefer to come up with a solution.
Before too long they called a mechanic, and then asked us if we were planning to leave, as they had blocked the little track with the car half in the ditch and half out, but we weren’t going anywhere… It was they who had to leave, going up the track in the opposite direction in the big white van when the munchies struck, so took off to go to the shop, asking us if we wanted anything before they left. Remote as this place is, the shop must be very far away…but munchies are munchies, and within the hour they had returned with bags of crisps and sodas, and they lounged around on the grass contentedly.
Not long after we heard the sound of a racing car, looked up to see a dust cloud and a little car bouncing over the horizon, and speeding in our direction. It was the mechanic, shifting gears and squealing tyres and narrowly missing the ditch himself. He came, hauled the car out, and left. The boys relaxed in the sunshine again, no longer interested in the dune buggy, or the wrecked car now parked beside the van, and attempted to kick a ball between themselves… but so high were they that none of them could manage, and before too long they left it sitting in the grass by my painting mother’s feet.
Hard to see them as a unit like this, but a triptych they are, flanking the last begonia painting, and in a lovely frame. I had help with the mark-making by a spray of bougainvillea, which dropped some thingies onto one of the paintings – they were both on the same table – and added a lovely finishing touch.
Last night the cereus bloomed, a profusion as usual, and this morning the sun was shining, so before it got too hot I painted them, barefoot in the garden. What a lovely way to pass a Sunday morning, in communion with the magnificence, delicacy, wonder, beauty and symbiosis of Nature. Giving thanks to God.