As we held our collective breaths, almost there – almost there; would be make it another month without being engulfed by the invading virus sweeping the planet? No. It happened on Leap Day, that weird nowhere land of a day, only occurring once every four years, a kind of half-life of a day, perhaps fitting in its foreboding nature, that the virus crept in, snuck in, on such a day.
It was the 29th of February – Leap Day – when the first Case of Covid-19 was identified in the Republic of Ireland. It would be officially announced the next day, 1st March 2020 and within three weeks would spread to every county, a speed for which we were unprepared. Those first weeks were like walking through a fog, a dangerous haze, you could feel it all around you and yet you could see nothing. The tension was high, the fear palpable, as we tried to go about our business and keep safe from this new invisible threat; a threat we didn’t understand and Scientist were still getting to know. It was a time of making calculated decisions, of going ahead with some things and cancelling others, of taking Tentative Bookings and putting Festival plans on-hold and putting family holidays and vacation time on the back burner, as we tried to figure out the new meanings and parameters for the word ‘Safe’, and tried to guess when the ‘safe’ we did know would return to us. I wasn’t to know, in those first two weeks of March just how many things I would be doing for the last time for a long time, or possibly forever; without knowing the same applied to February and January as I naively went about my daily routine. Five months later I write this from a dramatically altered state. I look back like it was a lifetime ago, decades passed, and yet only a few months, less than half a year, has ticked away. It was a different time, B.C. – Before Covid-19. I hold all the treasures of those first few weeks of March, so tightly now, hoping they won’t be the last, but knowing it’s entirely possible they will have been the last times I’d ever know their joy.
By the old calendar 1st February, Imbolc, ushers in Springtime in Ireland; and so 1st February to 21st March the Spring Equinox, is the first half of the season of Spring. That glorious time of the year when the Earth awakens from its Wintry slumber, the tiniest of buds emerging on barren branches of trees, and natures first flowers open and her birds reveal themselves. This year, more than ever, Humankind and Nature found themselves running in opposite direction at this pivotal time of year. While Humankind was hunted by the spectre of death in the form of Covid-19, Nature was rejoicing in life, as she sprang to her feet, took to the skies and came more and more alive with each passing day. One such day I spotted a Grey Heron, its home is Howth and I am no stranger to its otherworldly beauty and sacred place in Irish Folklore and Mythology. The Grey Heron is thought to have associations with the moon, and was sacred to the Triple Goddess. It was thought to represent magic, shamanic travel, learning and keeping secrets, reaching deeper mysteries and truths. On this day I had the distinct pleasure of capturing a photograph of the Grey Heron perched high atop the still largely barren branches of a tall tree in its Heronry. It’s calm, majestic stance in sharp juxtaposition to the humans in its vicinity.