Sunday, 1 March 2015

12. Seabird feather

Today I walked not in the Garden but on the Connemara shore near where I live, just a few miles from Brigit's Garden. A gale was howling across Galway Bay from the Atlantic, the sea grey-green and white, wild and loud. Waves crashed in on a short stretch of sand to my right, but where I stood a group of rocks created a calmer area of water. I looked down and a feather floated right to my feet. It is a beautiful thing, sleek and black, a wing feather that speaks of the streamlined elegance of a seabird, possibly a cormorant.

A few days ago I looked for a feather in the woodland and did not find one, here on the shore one appears, unbidden. It reminds me that to understand nature in the Garden we need to be aware of its location here on the West coast on the margins of Europe, in an area almost surrounded on three sides by the ocean. So many aspects of the Garden, like the rest of Connemara, are shaped by the dominant presence of the Atlantic: its climate, the landscape itself and the history of its human inhabitants. It is a powerful and sometimes awe-inspiring presence, and I am happy that a sense of the sea is carried by the feather into my collection of natural objects.

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