Updated: Feb 22, 2019
Several months ago I travelled from Ballydehob to Belfast to participate in a workshop facilitated by Connie Regan-Blake.
Excitement was upon me. I left early on the Friday morning knowing that I would not arrive until early evening. A good friend accompanied me on the journey; he just wanted a weekend away. He as I am is fond of The Christmas Market, there is always a buzz dancing in the air.
The workshop was worth every penny. I had a magical time and I learned a lot. One of the exercises Connie gave us was to sit quietly and let a story whisper to you. This is the bones of the story. The story is still in development.
There were no colours of cranberry, bayberry or gooseberry. No aroma in the air of roasting and baking to tease the senses. No singing, No dancing, No carols. No merry making of any kind. A mandate had been passed by the Puritan Lord of Abernaith that there would be no festivities as such an act would be deemed sinful as man’s soul was at risk from such deviant behaviours.
A mantle of snow lay on the ground reflecting moonlight but its beauty was lost on Anna. She was grateful that she had reached the age of three score. Soon she would pass over and be one of the ancestors. There was no place for her, here in the forest now. As a forest dweller, Anna understood the language of the forest. The forest breathed silence. It seemed to be lamenting for something had become lost. The great oak no longer stood resplendent, each branch heralding the sun. Now it stood withered, almost defeated as it observed the systemic hacking of the forest.
Anna sat hunched and huddled around the fire which burned in orange and indigo flame. She snuggled close drawing warmth from its flames. Tears like daggers split her heart. She was witnessing the end of the old ways. The land was becoming fenced and enclosed to appease the ravenous appetites of the new merchants. She cast her eyes through the forest shadows and caught sight of the town which has become walled and gated. She was comforted by the flickering candle light in the distance. Yet knew that she was now the outsider. Her land had become tortured and cursed by the hungry and the exile. The rhythm of fear weaved across that town of the other, the stranger, the one not like us. Anna lamented the ungratefulness of those who lived behind the walls, proud of their civilised etiquette yet who often feasted without due respect to the sustenance the animal offered.
Then in the shadows her eyes caught the great wolf, Macteer. He stood, stooped and downcast as if he knew that his time had come. Anna's heart broke, she understood that there would be no place for the wolf, the once renowned son of the Irish countryside. The wolf like the old solitary woman cast out as deviant and useless. So great was his fame that the land had become known as Wolfland but now the wolf was reduced to how much the hunter could get for his pelt.
Then Anna saw him, the man called McGrory, shaking his shoulder initiating the strap of his gun to come free. She stood fixed to the spot as she saw him release his hound. Through a break in the clouds, a full moon appeared and she saw the hunter raise the barrel pointing it towards the wolf.
Anna leaped to her feet to try and warn Macteer. The wolf turned towards the moon, he raised his head and gave out a might howl - a howl against the moon.
To be continued .......