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Our River (Out of Ireland)

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The farm we bought had a couple of km of a river without a name, about 10 feet wide, narrower in the summer and swollen during the winter. The previous owners, an elderly couple that wanted to retire to a single-storey bungalow with all the mod-cons like central heating, still had experienced salmon to swim upstream for hatching purposes. But those days were gone. Only few little unidentified fish were left in there but we were not knowledgeable in fishing anyway. The lowest point of our fields had a ford with stepping stones where you could walk through it for most of the year. The word ford still exists in "Oxford' and in the German town's name of Frankfurt.

A path wide enough for a tractor wended its way down from our house to the river through a big field. It was badly drained and couldn't be used for grazing until we had draining done. Cattle could get stuck in the mud there. Not pleasant for the rescuers either!

The by-product, however, was the most beautiful scene of thousands of yellow wild lilies or flaggers, as they are called in Ireland. At the end of May, I had a brainwave and thought I could sell them to the tiny flower shop that didn't have much of a selection, mostly carnations and plastic wreaths for graves. The children and I picked arms full. By the time we put them into water up at the house, they started to shrivel as one-day creatures do. When Mac decided two years later to have drainage put into the field I quietly cried about the loss of wildflowers and the beautiful scene, sacrificing that to productivity.

Until a few years before we took over the farm, water of the river was connected to the mains and used in the village as drinking water. The pump house was still there but wasn't serviced anymore since it had been taken out of use. The tap down by the school, however, was still working and supplying people who came to fill empty milk gallons.

I often sat by the little brook, listening to the gurgling noise of the water. A kind of mediation to ease my mind, communicate with nature, and take in the beauty of my new home- the move had not been totally of my free will.


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Ursula Siebert, originally a German teacher & lecturer turned businesswoman, lived in different European countries before coming to the USA. She is now a free-lance writer. Often tongue-in-cheek, she sees life and politics in the USA from the (more...)
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