Sunday, October 25, 2009


Turfless - to be destitute of turf.

We woke at sunrise, the hound and I, and got dressed for our walk. The clear, bright Autumn Sunday with no wind blowing let the factory smells fade away, leaving only the crisp scent of the morning and the falling leaves.

As we stepped through the door, we each sniffed the air. Eloise chasing evidence of her arch-nemesis: Big White Cat. Me, searching for the smoke of a turf fire off in the distance. 3321.69 miles in the distance, as the crow flies.

The blue-gray smoke of a turf fire has the ability to cover time and distance. Cozy like oatmeal with a bit of cinnamon, or hot spiced cider and fuzzy slippers. Afternoons in front of the AGA in Ant's kitchen solving the problems of the world over pots of tea and McVitie's Ginger Nut bisquits. Waking up on a Sunday sofa covered in newspapers. It conjures warmth, shelter from the storm, lost places and boxes of old photos. Happiness with a tinge of longing, like most truly Irish things.

When I was packing to return to America, I stuffed the zippered pockets of my jacket with small bits of turf briquette before tucking it into my suitcase. Thanks Bord na Mona for making it so dry and portable. On days like this when I miss Autumn in Ireland, I light a bit of the turf in an incense burner and let the smell fund my memories.

When I lived in Ireland, I had a waxed paper envelope full of autumn leaves that I would take out of the drawer when I felt lonely for Autumn in America. In my mind's nose the red leaves always smelled a little spicier that the others.

There was a time in my life when I thought that all I needed to be happy was a little cottage by the sea with a turf fire and a ginger cat.

Hmm.  What was I thinking?

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