Monday, February 11, 2013

In Praise of Stone Walls, continued...

   I want to do one more post about the stone walls of the Aran Islands.  I just found them so fascinating and they are such wonderful metaphors.

   As I mentioned in my previous post, the stone walls on the Aran Islands are built without gates.  I asked a resident why that was.  It seemed such a lot of work to take down part of the wall just to access the field.  He told me that wood was pretty much non-existent on these treeless isles and iron was too expensive.  They had plenty of rocks though.  Ever practical, they used what they had.  But it also points to another dimension of the Irish character, their relationship with time.  There is a commonly used saying when you travel in Ireland..."Remember, you are on Irish Time".  They don't hurry and rush because, as they say, "When God made time He made a lot of it."  You have to adopt a more laid back attitude when you are in Ireland.  So, making the time to take down a stonewall to create a place to let their horse into the field is a fine way to spend some time...what's the hurry?

   What I get out of all this is obvious on one level.  Use what you have available to you; take the time to "smell the roses" (or build a stonewall).  But as I find with contemplative photography, there is also a deeper level to think about.  If you imagine those tiny fields as individual lives, there are wonderful metaphors you can explore.  Each field shares one or more of its walls with a neighbor...they are all connected.  By not using cement, by keeping the walls dry, they can be re-build and moved easily.  By not having a gate, entrance requires effort. Finally, the walls are really quite's important not to block the view into other fields.  Yes, there is a lot one can learn from a stonewall! 

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