A time of reflection

For the winter solstice this year we decided to do something we had never done before; walk to the Minaun and welcome the rising sun as I imagine our forbearers in the distant past had.  I have to say I was nervous that anyone would be interested to come along, and the feedback beforehand wasn’t very positive, even with an offer of hot fruit punch or damson vodka! Nevertheless once we arrived at the departure point, it was heartening to see a few brave souls and by the time we left there were 15 in total and everyone seemed in good spirits.

The walk up was filled with early morning chat, and although it wasn’t very taxing, I think everyone was glad to pause at the Parcin before broaching the summit.  It’s a reasonable climb, but when you’re talking as well, it can take it’s toll.  We arrived at Cromwell’s rock just after 8 and had plenty of time to the see the rising sun brighten the Wexford horizon, although the low lying cloud and drizzle conditions didn’t bode well.  I was conscious of not wanting to say too much, there’s something about silence that is fitting at dawn.  8.35 was sunrise but alas, the sun couldn’t peep through those gloomy clouds.  A disappointment no doubt, made worse by the spectacular showing in the days before and for a few days following.

Tómas Sullivan captures the sunrise over the harbour a few days after our walk

Walking back the feedback was positive, and I think our neighbour Jacqui summed it up very well with her perspective, it’s not about actually seeing the sun, but the social aspect of getting out of the house and going for a walk with neighbours and friends. 

Our good pal Bob the scientist celebrated the solstice with his family as well and blogged on the merits of walking in company or indeed alone.  In it he refers to Gods light and captures some sense of why we love to be out.  The piece reminded me of the joy of being immersed in nature, but also that it’s a resource freely available and much in demand.  The irony isn’t lost on me in trying to drum up business for guided tours.  From a purely economic perspective I must say I’ve made some questionable choices in life – a fisherman, men’s outreach worker, a community worker, childcare sector and now a walking tour guide, a pastime freely available to anyone with a decent pair of boots!

In the attempt to raise our profile/drum up business I’m conscious of the time given each week to social media, either the posts to facebook (on average one a day since we started the business) and a weekly blog post.  The time taken to put these together and further monitor and respond is time-consuming and at times you wonder what’s the merit.  The flip side is that the photos required, encourage us to get outside all the more and seek regular and topical content.  Another positive I suppose is that social media is a form of modern communication which brings people with a connection to the area a slice of the village on a regular basis.

Ultimately the reality of what we are trying to develop and I guess why we do it is underlined in this nugget of wisdom from American naturalist John Muir “In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.”  Another I like is from Marc Anthony; “Do what you love, and you will never work a day in your life”

Thinking back on what Jacqui said, could there be any more fitting welcome to a new year ahead, than a gathering within your community to celebrate the coming of brighter days, and get fresh air and exercise while you do it.  So happy new year and I hope it’s a healthy and prosperous one too.