Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Beautiful Day in the Garden

Killeany Lodge, Inis mor, Aran Islands
A few days ago I spent a beautiful afternoon at Killeany Lodge, a spiritual center and eco-friendly lodge on Inis mor with a huge organic garden. Last summer during my trip I met Helmut and Irmtraud, the German couple who owns the Lodge, and I was looking forward to seeing them again. I arrived at 9:30am on Tuesday for a yoga session that was as tough if not tougher than yoga classes I've attended in NYC at Om, and when I finished I had a huge smile on my face for having gotten through it, plus with all those endorphins running through me, I felt wonderful.

Garden, Killeany Lodge, Inis mor, Aran Islands
After yoga I splashed some water on my face and decided to help out around the Lodge before lunch. I began my work pulling arugula leaves from the garden off of the long stems, with a Japanese woman named Mako who was staying at the Lodge for two weeks and helping out in the garden. Mako told me that back home in Tokyo she has a salon and works with healing energies using different stones and crystals. She looked at my ring - a small faceted emerald - and after waving her fingers over it a few times told me it is a very powerful stone, good for seeing truth and clarity. I don't know much about crystals or energy from stones, but I liked the sound of that.

Irmtraud, a 70 year old woman who did yoga better than many of us in the room, showed me to the garden, and instructed me on how to pull out weeds effectively, and how to give the soil more air by raking my fingers through it. I weeded on my hands and knees for nearly two hours, and threw the weeds onto the compost heap. Gardening is hard work! Especially a garden this size. I have such great respect for Irmtraud for keeping it so beautiful and healthy. But it was extremely satisfying to look at the stalks of garlic, now free from overgrown weeks, standing proudly in their bed of soil. Irmtraud held up her hands - her fingernails encrusted in dirt - and said that her hands look this way because if they didn't, someone else's hands would.

Herb garden, Killeany Lodge, Inis mor, Aran Islands
Lunch mainly came from the garden: arugula salad, sauteed vegetables (I'm not sure what kind, they were bitter, and supposedly very good for the liver), salted mackerel in a tomato gravy with mushrooms, some noodles, and for dessert, the garden's first crop of strawberries of the season, and Mako made custard with eggs from the ducks in the yard. It was all delicious, and it was so special to me to eat food that I knew exactly where it came from - I had seen it on the ground, growing, just a few minutes before the meal. It made me wish I had a garden, and I feel motivated to try to make my own windowsill garden in my studio apartment. I'll have to look into it when I get home in July...

After we cleaned up, we had fresh peppermint tea, and the four of us women (me, Irmtraud, Mako, and a painter/writer named Nonie who lives on the island) talked about the island, the mysteries of the forts, and read some of our writing out loud. It was truly a beautiful day, spent with beautiful people. I'm happy to have found a small community of spiritual, mindful of people on this island. I'm sure there are others here, too, that I haven't met yet. Aran was always a spiritual place, a place of pilgrimage, where saints and seekers journeyed to - and I'm happy to see it continuing this trend, even if it looks different now than it did centuries ago.

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