daily preciousness

Tuesday, July 03, 2001

soft weather

The weather here is like Seattle -- brisk little showers with gentle, misting rains. 'Soft weather, today,' you can hear the old folks say. 'Soft' denotes this peculiarly Irish rainfal that's lighter than a mist and heavier than a fog. Sometimes it falls sideways. Other times, it doesn't really seem to fall at all!




But the rain is healthy and is to be thanked; it's perfect weather to feed the grassy hillsides. Cool winds and gentle sun dominate the forecasts here.

It's all very pleasant, although very changeable weather. Definitely pays to have a brolly and a rainjacket handy at all times!

A native of Belfast told me that the recent day of warm weather (in the upper 80s) was cause enough for a minor celebration of Irish guys. 'They're likely to take their shirts off whenever the temperatures are over 50 degrees,' he told us. On most of them, it really wasn't a particularly aesthetic view for the passers-by.

Clonmacnois

Just went to an ancient monastery the other day. It was really lovely: exactly as I'd pictured old Ireland to be like.

Beautiful old graveyards, ruins of ancient abbey buildings, round towers reaching up into the ancient mists, ancient castles just tumbling down.... Just pure poetry! Very impressive and with a mysterious air about it that intrigues me in a new and unique way.

Local legends carry a great weight here. And the cultural momentum of the area farmers' lore obviously keeps the stories at the forefront of consciousness. I say this because the legends are, indirectly, destroying some of the ancient monuments at this national heritage site.

Our guide, Nikola, a bright, engaging 23-year-old heritage studies student, told us about the legend. 'Tradition has it that if you take some of the dirt from under the foundation of the old church and spread it on the four corners of your farmland, your crops will be protected for a year.'

Over hundreds of years, many generations of farmers have literally dug up the ground under the church's foundations, causing the old structure to sag down and fall into itself. Despite the pragmatic addition of a cement base to the site, people *still* manage to upset the structure's supports.

The food

The food's much, much better than I'd imagined. And the exchange rate has made everything very reasonably priced -- better prices than in N.O., for the amount of food I'm getting. And plenty of veggie faire, too.

So far, my favorite so-not-traditional but still delicious place is NUDE. It's owned by one of the members of U2, but that's not the cool part. The place has the most amazing vegetarian menu. My favorite of the 4 entrees I've tried has been the spicy yam and chick pea wrap. The fruit smoothies are great, too. The best was the berry burst, with its thick blue/rasp/strawberry mix. Very refreshing, without being overly sweet.

The dancy, hard-edged techno they play matches the George Jetson meets Ronald McDonald surroundings perfectly. I like the mostly young, trendy crowd, too.

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