Week Two at Knockanode
This was my fist weekend at Knockanode and I found it hard to acctually take a break. Saturday morning I did my best to sleep in given the cloudy skies and cool weather, but was still out and about by ten. I took my time making breakfast and cleaning my small house, consisting of a kitchen, bedroom, bathroom and a few tables a chairs. I cleaned all of the dishes left by the Wwoofers before me that appearently were not afraid of dust and grime then organized my clothes and belongings. I gave the tables and floors a good wipedown and rearranged the furniture to a more comfortable setting. Around two or three that afternoon I decided to go for a stroll somewhere in the valley, heading out with some music and my thoughts. I walked to an area known as 'the circle' which is the highest point in the county in an old pasture on a nearby mountain that overlooked five different surrounding counties including the southern portion of the Wicklowe Mountains and pieces of the Irish Sea. Due to the heavy fog, setting in more as I climbed the hills, I could hardly see my feet where I was standing once I got to the spot. Another gentleman was in the field driving a landrover around and having some fun. He was leaving as I was so I let him through the gates where he explained to me something had jammed his gears and he was afraid of breaking down before he made it home. I offered a hand and got underneath the vehilcle with him, pulling handfulls of mud, rocks and sticks from the undercarriage. He found the problem and made a quick adjustment while we chatted, then offered me a ride back down the mountain to where Id come given the temperature was begining drop. I went to the pub for the evening to see a musician playing western Irish tunes on keyboard. One piece that stuck out was called "Wicklowe Girl" and was about a traveler coming to Erie and falling in love with the land and ofcourse a pretty girl. It was a fun, but late night and between all of the conversations and dancing I found myself enjoying a few more pints of Guiness than I had anticipated. I joined Feargal back at the house for a glass of Whiskey and a smoke while we walked around admiring his newly installed windows and the unique structures he had designed in the cielings and curves of the different rooms. The whole house had been redisigned to hold up against heavy weather such as freezing blizzards and freak tsunamis that might come if the end of the world is truely upon us. Every widow, beam, and structure had been reinforced with designs used in areas that experience earthquakes, hurricanes and heavy winter ice storms.
On Sunday, I went back to my spot on the hill and finished duilcing the first raised be, then beggining to level out the hill abouve it to prepare for the next one. Around four that afternoon I walked down to the pub for a plate of chips (french fries) and an Irish cider while I made some calls via skype to my parents and close friends back home. The connection was not good that day so I didn't get a hold of everyone I would have liked to, but reguardless it was very nice to hear some familiar voices. (and accents)
I spent Sunday evening in, having spent plenty of time at the pub the night before, and watched some telly and a movie with Frances over some tea. Frances and I discussed getting some lamb to roast the coming weekend to have a dinner together when the rest of the kids and family are around for my twenty first birthday, which I will greatly enjoy not having a big deal made out of the day. I called an early night to be up early Monday morning because Feargal had gone into town the night before and had left me some heavy work to be ready for his next set of windows. I was to take out three sets of windows and thier sills, then clean the stone around the frames with a small handheld jack hammer. I was weary of the task because I had never demolished windows like these before and for the day I was at the house on my own since Frances had to visit a patient up in Dublin at noon. At first, I made some cracks in the glass from the prying, and not knowing where the wood had been joined to the wall, but after the first few mistakes I slowed down at tried to be more graceful. I had the three windows removed shortly after lunch without breaking every pane, then took a break for lunch and to start organizing the old potting shed Frances had asked to be cleaned for use. The small building had a hard plastic roof to allow in light, and had been set up with benches, irrigation, and an autoclave to sterilize top soil from off the hill. A drainage system had been designed to filter and use water out of a nearby stream for the shed, but had been over filled with sticks and muck, flooding the entire shed with silt and grime. Frances had told me she had wanted to use the potting shed for over fifteen years, but never found someone able to clean it out properly. It was easy to see why. I ventured back to the windows and began working with the jackhammer to clear the remained frames, holding the machine over my head as it broke the stone. I gathered the majority of the clutter into bags, leaving large square gaps in the walls where full windows had been that morning. I fixed a bowl of soup and straightened up my area a while as I waited for Frances to return. We traveled into Arklowe shortly after she got back so I could gather another weeks worth of groceries and supplies. I fixed myself a good dinner of Irish veggies and meat with some cold whiskey, having worked up a large appitite thtough the day. Another Wwoofer was supposed to arrive by bus at some point in the day, but never showed. I found myself slightly thankful they had changed thier mind, if thats the case, since I greatly enjoy being on my own and working alone. In a place like Ireland, surrounded by green and fresh air, I could easily and happily live as a hermit.
I joined Frances again in the sitting room for a few hours before I headed to bed, being to exhausted to walk down to the pub. We watched some shows concerning the drinking problems in Ireland, and the baby boom trends that were affecting the current economy. Meanwhile we discussed our own views on the subjects and how so much differed between Irish and American culture. As I went to bed, I could feel my hands throbbing in pain from smashing two of them during my demolition project and a number of scrapes and splinters on top of the ever cracking blisters between each joint. This is nothing new to me, having worked a larger more unforgiving jack hammer on a paving crew years before with had nearly destroyed both palms. Never the less, As soon as my head hit the pillow I passed out and was waking up to the first clear sky I had seen since I arrived. I was out in the cool morning air hanging laundry while I enjoyed my first cup of tea, then joined Frances to conquer the disaster of a potting shed. I shoveled piles of mudd and roots of the floor into garbage bags, every scoop nastier than the one before, redefining my definition of muck. I hit the walls and floors with a pressure sprayer, scraping off vines of ivy as I went. I then climber to the roof to do the same, snipping vines and washing off the accumulation of dirt from the clear plastic. I spent the whole afternoon tidying and pressure washing every surface until every clump of moss and mudd had been cleared from the concrete. The clear evening sky brought a beautiful sunset of several shades of red, orandge, pink and purple. The first sunset I had gotten to see in Ireland. Feargal returned near dusk with his son Duncan, inspecting my job on the windows. I had done what he liked, but as a builder, he says the job is never really done. After two days of heavy, consuming work, I am settling in for another big plate of food and headed down to the Meetings for some well deserved pints. Tommorow I may be back to tearing apart crates and starting the next raised bed now that Frances is able to work in the potting shed and start sowing crops. We have plans to travel into town in search of an immigration officer to approve my extended stay, find some Organic seed and possibly take some time to have me hooked up to one of her bio-ressenance machines to balance my chacras. In my opinion, I feel after a week of being in this beautiful place, I am already on my way to peace and balance.
Pictures of tonights gorgeous sunset over The Vale of Avoca.
My camera truely does not do it justice.