Winter is upon us. I don’t particularly announce this because our calendar tells us so, more because – in this house at least – we’re finally feeling it in our bones. So, for this week, we’ve gone into hibernation mode.
It’s easy to hibernate in the Burren. It’s been four days since we left the farm and we don’t really have plans to either – well, until our milk and toast supply starts to run low. The toddler, after a promising three-weeks-straight stint in September, decided that Playschool isn’t for him right now (we’ll give it a go again in January) and the baby is on/off teething, so a bit unhinged to say the least – keeping her within familiar surroundings is safer for everyone involved. I pick up mutterings on Instagram and the radio that Christmas is already kicking into action – but not here. Here there are no lights or billboards or shop windows to drag us prematurely beyond what is intrinsically lovely about November, when nothing much happens. That quiet, still month.
It’s a no-brainer really that we take the chance to go slow and do nothing too.
When it’s been dry we’ve gotten out for a wander, usually in the big field next door which we call the Rock. Visitors must wonder how on earth anyone makes a go of farming in the Burren, but the Rock is one of those precious entities that has it all in terms of keeping livestock. It is part grass, part limestone pavement, part maze of whitethorn and hazel. Animals can graze the grass in Summer and the nutritious array of plants specific to the Burren limestone landscape throughout the winter – all with dry feet and ample, cosy shelter from the wind and rain in the scrub. The practice of Winter out-grazing, or ‘Winterage’, is unique to the Burren. Its 350 million year old limestone flags not only provide sustenance in the darkest months, they gradually expel all the soaked-up sun from the Summer months… like a slow-release hot water bottle.
I can’t say I would personally spend too much time sitting on the rock this month, but certainly, all of these features make it the perfect place for an amble with small people -and a dog – oh, and your morning cuppa. It’s our very own, very quiet, very magical playground and we are very lucky to have both it and the time to spend there, doing ‘nothing’.
Before going to sleep the other night, my other half – our main link to outside civilisation, going out daily as he does to keep the financial show on the road – asked me what I had planned for the next day.
“Um, well, nothing!” I replied. “Wanna swap?” I venture.
One of these days he’ll actually be tempted. Then I’ll be in a fix!