Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Turf season

The strongest impression of Ireland in winter is the rich, earthy smell of burning turf -- peat from the bog, pungent as incense. The turf -- the long-compressed remains of many decades of prehistoric sphagnum moss -- is cut each spring, and we stack it to dry over the summer and bring it to our homes in winter. The fuel that heats our house comes from less than a kilometre away -- and the wood, of course, which comes from less than ten metres away.

Local people here still hold a turf-cutting contest every summer here, using a special angular shovel that could not be mistaken for anything else. In the old days, to find out if conditions were right to cut turf in spring, local people lit their pipes and waited to see what the smoke would do. If it headed for the ground it was a bad sign, and turf-cutting was postponed. 

Photo: The Girl climbing turf cliffs a walk away from our house. 

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