Saturday, September 12, 2015

Little House of Imperfections

In another life, we drove for hours around Connemara in the West of Ireland, with 16 different versions of Shenandoah blasting on the iPod. It was pure indulgence on the part of my husband, and I loved him for that. A mid-summer day, all sun and quickcloud bluster, a squall and a rainbow, and another rainbow. Down narrow lanes twisting past stone cottages and sheep, ending at the deadend of the sea.

Turn around.

The small bays and inlets of the Atlantic shone in turquoise and emerald, sometimes in concentric circles of color. I could never get enough of the wildly-shifting tones of the Irish landscape. What could easily look like miles of untreed rocky pasture appeared to me as an ever-changing sweep of amber and chestnut browns, of aquaeous greens and a sky-blue so deeply saturated it made me weep. It was a drug: more, please.

My favorite of all the versions of Shenandoah we listened to that day is this one, by the inimitable Richard Thompson:

In another life yet again — in this one, now, with yet more loves lost and trailing their remants of inseverable sinew — I wandered out into ebbing light, Shenandoah cranked up, windows and doors wide open to summer's last heat.

Streaks of russets on the western horizon —
Pots of rosebud geraniums in full-on coral blossom —
The hazelnut tree losing leaves already, a crackling —

How to give up loving those we love, who don't love us in return? One would think that after nearly six decades, all the answers would be easy. Sometimes love deadends at the sea, and the only options are drowning or turning around.

Turning around and ending up back where I am, in my little house of imperfections.

And yet despite this deeply measured sadness there exists a kind of joy, abiding and immutable, and acceptance of the duality of life. A longing — which I doubt will ever fade — for something greater than the here and now, yet acknowledging the utter perfection of the here and now.

Oh Shenandoah,
I long to hear you,
Away, you rolling river.
Oh Shenandoah,
I long to hear you,
Away, we're bound away
'Cross the wide Missouri.


  1. I think you'll have to relocate to Connemara, with the wild landscape and Richard Thompson singing for you. It'd suit you!

    1. It would indeed suit me, Cro.
      It would indeed.

  2. such sweetness in this post. yes, balance and a recognition of what is. what has been relinquished. the layers and layers of years and people and trips and homes, conversations and always music. Feeling loss is such a strange and weird sensation. Even when joy comes back, sometimes the sense of loss sneaks up and bites you in the behind. I love this post, T. Really love it.

  3. T-

    This is so beautiful. Thank you for opening my eyes to your world, to love and love lost and to the acceptance of both, to knowing that we must have everything this world offers us and what that often means.

    big love to you-