The Girl and I spent two days camping in the far west of Ireland, on the shores of Lough Derg.
“But what will we eat?” she asked. We brought boiled eggs and bread, but for everything else we scoured the mountain bushes for blackberries and the trees for apples. We climbed green mountains and waded in rushing streams. We examined water-skaters and ruined fortresses. We toured the grounds of Seed Savers, and their greenhouses of onions and carrots tall as people.
We camped on the shore and woke to high winds at twilight, whipping the lake-waters into white and oceanic breakers.
We stopped for coffee (me) and hot chocolate (her) at the Wooden Spoon in Killaloe, now officially our favourite restaurant in the world. We sat back in the wooden chairs and leafed through their cookbooks, my burgeoning foodie and I, finding foods we love (smoked rashers), things I encouraged her to try someday (gravlax) and the things we solemnly shook hands and agreed never to eat (octopus in aspic).
She pleaded with me to tell her more of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – which was a problem, as I was reciting from memory a book I hadn’t read in three decades. Her great-grandfather had mailed her a copy as a birthday present months ago, and the Irish postal system has still not delivered it.
Most of all, though, we went mushroom hunting on a course with a mycologist and several other adults, and The Girl found patches where the ground was covered in mushrooms thick as trees -- puffballs and sulfur tufts, ear fungi and anethyst deceivers. She found a rare Inocybe that the mycologist said he would show off to his friends, and by the end of the day, with the mycologist’s help, she was identifying Russula and Lactorius like a pro. Later we – The Girl and I, the other adults in the course, and the mycologist – sat around eating a meal of chanterelles and porcini, sautéed in garlic butter and parsley.
We drove home through the rain singing Schoolhouse Rock and listening to Kind of Blue, and after a while she said, softly, “I could spend every day like this.”
Top photo: Not the sea, but Lough (Lake) Derg at twilight before dawn.