I admit, I don’t know what I’m doing. Everything about my current environment differs from anything else I’ve known. The learning curve has been steep.
The first photo is of a dragon fruit bloom. Our first year here, I watched the blooms, waited and then, nothing…
I learned they often require hand pollination. So this second season, I began hand pollinating the blooms. And nothing. Nothing, that is, until late in the season. The fruit set.
You can imagine my initial surprise when the fruit starts gained in size, instead of just withering on the plant. This surprise was surpassed when I saw the fruit turning red and eventually appear ripe.
Are you looking for a book your kiddos might read?
Look no further.
Gabriel and the Bear may be the answer.
This story provides a peak into a fun outing where a young boy sees his first bear in the wild, and it also offers insight into how to enjoy wildlife and remain safe.
I grew up in the Midwest, in a small town. My exposure to wildlife was limited to the few small critters we’d spot in our yard or visiting a zoo. Books for children painted pictures of animals being our friends, or were stories of cute interactions between children and animals. My eight years of living in the mountains in western Colorado taught me the realities of sharing the land with wild animals. I learned a healthy respect for these creatures. I knew women whose homes had been invaded by bears; whose cars had been demolished by a bear who got inside the vehicle. I witnessed how enormous bears are. There are foolish, unsafe behaviors of tourists seeking selfies of themselves or their children with wildlife that I read about.
Gabriel and the Bear may provide the subtle encouragement to keep your eyes peeled when driving through the countryside. You may spot something and be able to watch a creature of the wild in their natural habitat. The book also has a section dedicated to bear facts. Are you aware of how fast the slow, lumbering black bear can run, or of all the different colors a black bear can be? Learn those truths and others in the book.
Carol Gault, who is an amazing wildlife photographer, has provided the art within the story.
As mentioned last week, we had been invited by JP, the pastor at Listowel Christian Fellowship, to come Saturday and spend the night and have dinner together. This in itself is such a testament to the work God is doing in establishing us here. On the way, we stopped in Tralee to pick up some fresh flowers for their home. I ducked into a grocery store and Linda informed me she was going to get something at the drugstore across the way. I picked up a bouquet and walked over to the drugstore to find Linda. I couldn’t find her, so I returned to the car to wait. About ten minutes later Linda returned. I told her about not being able to find her. She fessed up and told me that she had walked past the drug store and had found herself about a block past when she realized she had missed the entry to the drug store. We had a good laugh.
We arrived at JP and Fidelma’s home and continued our mutual discovery of each other’s history and mission. JP had kitchen duty and prepared a wonderful roast with all of the fixins’.
Our weekend in Listowel ended on the sweet note of sharing in worship and teaching at Listowel Christian Fellowship. This group is transitioning from Zoom only to meeting in person again. The fellowship is lively and enjoys a weekly opportunity for testimony.
Driving back to Dingle, we decided to take advantage of the nice weather and explore a new area for us, Brandon Point. The sun highlighted some of the spring flowers popping up around the county. We find the activity in the sky fascinating. Cloud formations are different around the world. We drove home over Connor Pass. As the passenger, Linda was able to enjoy lovely views of the seashore, catch glimpses of sheep traversing rocky steep fields and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation. Tom got to navigate the long, twisting, narrow pass. At the top, where the road widens, there is a rest stop perched high enough above the shore that one is able to see the sea on both sides of the peninsula.
We lunched with Michael and Ninfa at one of the hotels in Killarney renown for hosting weddings. Much laughter ensued as we talked about some of Michael’s culinary surprises when he visited the United States. Though we all speak English, there is such surprise in learning how each culture uses some of the same words. He was encouraged to try biscuits and gravy for breakfast. He did, but could not imagine being served cookies with gravy for breakfast. They shared some of their dreams for their church. We felt honored to be part of their conversation.
The Tuesday fellowship group continued their gathering, moving onto “anointing” this week. There were good questions, conversation and encouragement.
Sometime in the night, rain moved into the area. There were a few breaks during the day. Laughter and great conversations filled the air of the alcove where the writers met at the Meadowlands Hotel and pub. The heat from the free standing stove kept everyone cozy on a dreary day. National news advised of worse weather coming late Thursday, and continuing onto Friday. A Red Alert was issued. Many events were cancelled.
Thursday, Linda met with the writers via Zoom. Maire Holmes is back as Writer in Residence again. What a treat for the group!
The wind howled and raged through Thursday night. We’d awaken to rain pelting the windows and doors. Brief reprieves offered calm moments. From the safety of our cottage the sound made me think we were in the middle of a brutal winter snowstorm. But no, it was an Irish winter storm. We enjoyed the safety of our cottage. The weather continued. Slightly abating on Saturday when we took a short drive. The wind and rain returned. Another storm on the heels of the first continued through the weekend.
This was the week Covid caught up with Tom. Seems to be a mild case, doing a lot of reading and taking naps. Perhaps a good week for the weather to be so bad it too limited our activities. Linda has continued to test negative. We’ll have to wait and see how Covid affects the rest of our trip. We appreciate your prayers.
Jet-Lag has been difficult to shake this trip, but may finally be behind us. Yeah! Just as Jet-Lag may be behind, it appears many of the Irish COVID restrictions will also be behind us. You may ask, how does that affect us while we’re here?
No longer will we have to show vaccination proof to enter an eatery, or indoor facility. Seating at pubs and eating establishments will no longer be limited to a maximum of 6 per table. Establishments can return to their normal hours of operations, (pubs and restaurants were required to close by 8 pm) and the work from home orders have been lifted. Masks are still part of one’s attire. Travel restrictions in or out of the country remains unchanged at this time.
Most of week two was under the old rules. We’ve been walking the neighborhood, the beach and several of the towns. Sunday, Living Rock church provided the opportunity for corporate worship and the chance to connect with a few folks we knew from previous travels and meet a new couple. A group of us went to the hotel next door for lunch, where we sat in the rear of the dining facility occupying four tables of four in close enough proximity to see one another, but not really converse between tables. Our drive home from Killarney afforded an opportunity to be at Inch Beach for sunset. This is one of our favorite walking beaches. You can literally drive out on the sand and park as close to the waves as you dare. What a treat!
Tuesday, we attended the house fellowship in Dingle, held at the location where we’re staying. It was the first “in person” meeting in some time, but most were familiar faces. It was good to connect with them again and participate in their study. The format has evolved, resulting more in a teaching than an interactive study. Everyone enjoyed the fellowship of being face to face with in person laughter.
Wednesday was the local writers meeting in person at the Meadowlands Hotel in Tralee. We were seated in an alcove area of two tables and there eight in attendance. What a treat for Linda to connect in person. Some of this group is also part of the weekly Zoom group which meets on Thursday. Good food, good stories, good friendship. It was a fine afternoon. When Tom arrived, one of the ladies asked who he was. Another replied, “my cousin.” They then realized he was Tom. Much laughter ensued. This woman and I have spoken before. Due to similarities within the family stories, strongly suspect there may be a family link and hope to resolve this question during our time here this year.
Friday, while out walking, we received a call stating there’d been a cancellation and if we could make it to Tralee Friday evening, we could attend a performance of “The Importance of Being Ernest.” Yes, we could meet the schedule. This was a high school performance, done well and entertaining. The show ended early enough for us to be able to just get into one of the restaurants we’ve enjoyed in the past. This rounded out the evening with good food, good memories and a great chat with the owner of the establishment. It’s a small family owned business, and he spoke of the challenges of COVID and some of the changes he has seen. His expectation is the impacts aren’t over yet even though the restrictions are being lifted.
We are certainly living in uncharted, ever changing times. Isn’t it wonderful to know, God is NOT surprised by any of this and HE is still in control.
The end has arrived. It was time to purge the agave before it became rigid and too tough to cut. The blooms hosted bees, honey birds and some butterflies.
When the stalk fell, a mild sweet fragrance filled the air.
Pieces cut to fit the green waste mounded on the ground.
Then each was stabbed with a pitch fork and dropped in the bin.
Smaller pieces were scooped in.
Few pieces wait for next week’s trash collection day.
Check out the close-up bloom. Each of those tiny tennacles were feeding zones for all the flying critters that hovered around the blooms once they opened. After sitting in the sun for several days, there was no fragrance, and no visiting creatures. This piece will join its kin in the bin next week.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this marvel of nature with me.
We’ve yet to determine what will be planted in the agave’s former location. But the next selection will take into consideration the little bridge and mature size of the plant.
Thanks for watching this amazing transition with me. It’s not over yet, but we’re getting closer to the end. I expected the flowers to bloom before the death cycle became evident. So, future photos will have fewer leaves on the bottom, and perhaps there will be yellow flowers. Or not…