Winter 2008. Keem Beach, Achill Island, Ireland.
It is so difficult to describe what the sky and the water do here -- but it is like they are one seamless curtain of silk, a silk that is every shade of blue. Because the horizon is so open, you can see an unlimited expanse of that blue silk and it ripples and shifts every time the light breaks through the clouds to dance on some distant stretch of waters.
At the furthest most point, there is a beautiful beach with very fine white sand. It sits in a deep basin with mountains rising up on either side and the water is a deep turquoise which turns powder blue further out. And in the distance you see the backs of blue-violet mountains rising out of the ocean.
The Celts told of a place called Mag Mell. According to their myth, you only find it by accident -- usually when you are in a boat which is driven off course by a storm. What makes this Celtic paradise different from so many others in world mythology is that it is not an afterlife realm of shadows or eternal punishment. It is something altogether different. Mag Mell, meaning "the plain of joy," is a place of eternal youth and beauty, a place where sickness and death do not exist, a place where all those things which are beautiful in this Life finally come together.
During 2008 I had the good fortune to travel and work for an extended period in the west coast region of Ireland. That trip provided an opportunity for me to explore my cultural identity and how that impacts my writing and my sense of who I am. The visual experience of those landscapes still guides my voice and provides me with a personal connection to the extraordinary literary and story telling tradition of Ireland.