Monday, February 9, 2009

Kelly’s Cross, Prince Edward Island, Canada 3.7.1983: Wild Caraway, Cawing Crows

Took a 10- or 12-mile walk yesterday in a vain attempt to reach the coast. Fr. K. had told me that one could take a certain road south and thus arrive there.

However, since I had no idea of the distance, I didn’t know how long to persist, so stopped just short of the coast, at a little placed called Desable, which I see by the map is right on a little inlet.

The walk was nice—sky overcast, drizzling a bit, and this brought out the greens of the fields. I spotted some wild caraway and chewed this as I went along (kept plucking seeds)—a refreshing taste. Also picked and ate some wild strawberries. Somehow I can’t be too enthusiastic over strawberries. I suppose that when they were the first fruit of summer, they would have tasted different. (I mean, when one had very little access to other fruit.) Now, however, many other fruits can displace the humble strawberry—at least, for me.

I am preoccupied by several things, and this has robbed the past two days of peace for me . . . . Today has been more placid. Went to Mass in the little church—very rural feeling. The people were Irish- and Scots-looking, bluff faces and farm manners. The Mass was unexpectedly formal, with six or so altar boys processing with a priest and lector—all this in a tiny little church. Not to mention a choir and sung responses. Dragged on an hour, too. I shouldn’t mind, but I suspect the priest does this on principle—“Can you not watch one hour with me?” etc.

There’s something hard-bitten—intransigent and unyielding—about Irish Catholicism, as, I daresay, about the Irish character. If there ever was a time when I found this attractive, I now find it repugnant. Were it a determination to stand staunch in the face of diversity, I could find it perhaps understandable. But it has a defensive, aggressive quality. Even learning seems to be simply an apologetic tool among Irish Catholics, rather than a curiosity to see and know more.

The sun is westering now atop a dark line of spruce, which everywhere here outline the small fields. Crows there are aplenty—one outside the window cawing away: an annoying sound. I saw a bird yesterday I couldn’t place—dark with white head, white markings on black wings. I would be tempted to call it a meadowlark, since it was (they were, rather—lots of them) in a meadow and seemed to sound like a meadowlark. But, for some reason, I think of larks as gliding, whereas these birds beat their wings (short, in proportion to body) with a will. One led me along the road, scolding all the while: I suspect, a female diverting me from her young.

No comments: