God paints in bright colours
Driving into Ballymaloe House gardens, the place where my father and my son have spent parts of their childhood, always feels like coming home. We “drive in the yellow” as my three-year-old calls it. Acre upon acre of gold as far as the eye can see, man-high shocking yellow oil seed rape flowers waving in the wind, line both sides of the drive.
The ripe grape-like bunches of watercolour mauve wisteria greet us, jingling on the austere grey wall of the venerable house. We abandoned the car and meandered down to the lazy river. This is one of the first walks that our one-year-old has done on foot. And so we explored along with her, naming the things we see for her delight, just like Adam, and this our own Eden…
The beech woods with their gravity-defying fresh green leaves, each carefully crimped by fairy hands, waved above our heads as we greeted the chickens: red, white, gold, black, fluffy footed and red cropped roosters. Proud white geese stretching their necks in warning. And the regal peacock, resplendent in his iridescence.
Does a peacock know how beautiful he is? He may rattle his tail in temptation at a female, but does he know? If you and I and all our friends were to sit down one day and try to design the most beautiful bird in the world, we wouldn’t even get close. From the dainty tiara, to the black and white striped wings, the iridescent blue which belongs on a beetle, not a bird, and the eyes on his tail. He has never seen himself. He probably thinks he looks like a pea-hen, mottled and brown… it reminds me of us, we see our drabness, not our beauty or magnificence.
We walked the woods. Bluebells, pink bells, white bells in the dappled sun, jingling a tune for fairy ears. Hot pink azaleas and rhodedendrons trumpeting their song. Wild garlic pungent to nose and tongue calls to be picked.
We tracked a tiger and touched his teeth, hand-in-hand to be sure we were brave enough. We wondered at a waterfall churning bubbles out of thin air. Found a tree that grew handkerchiefs of the finest white silk for kings. And intoxicated ourselves in the scent of damask rose bushes.
For an hour we were as queens. The fairies were our friends. In the garden we met God. And she paints in bright colours.