It is the time of the equinox as the sun rise and sunset is almost the same time – technically it occurs on 20 March. Many festivals fall at this time of year. Mothers’ Day, St Patrick’s and Easter all happen around the vernal equinox and elsewhere interesting holidays include the Persian new year, Nowruz, and Wiccans and Neopagans celebrate the Sabbat of Ostara. Earth Day used to be celebrated at the equinox, but now occurs in April. Instead there is going to be earth Hour next weekend. This is a time to turn-off. An eco-event, but one that can have economic benefits too. People across the world will turn off their lights to recognise the importance of preserving our planet. Earth Hour 2009 is 8:30PM Saturday 28 March 2009. Light some candles and have a party. (Check out the website here.)
Are you feeling green? Not from envy. Not from ecology. Because of Saint Patrick’s Day (and maybe a Gland Slam victory in rugby)! Though it used to be blue that was the colour of St Patrick and it is only in recent times that green has become associated with St Paddy’s day, partly because of the association with the wearing of the green – shamrock. And although the holiday has its roots in a religious festival, it is now a national holiday, a festival of Ireland and Irish and an excuse to party! In fact the partying aspect is more pagan as the Bachanalian festival associated with Bachuus took place around March 14, 15. Well I suppose that’s appropriate since Ireland has always had a fairly tribal, independent culture rooted in its pagan past.
While we all enjoy the wonderful community spirit of parades, dressing up and getting together, we’re also enjoying a real spring. It seems to be on time this year, or at least not too early. The daffodils are in full bloom, the camellia is now blooming and the temperature is warm enough that the grass will grow again. It is uplifting to hear birds singing in the trees again as migrants begging to return. I’ve a feeling that we’re going to have a proper summer. I’m making sure my irrigation system is working because it might come in handy in summer. Let’s hope the weather is fine so that we can all enjoy holidays at home in these challenging times.
And they are challenging! It seems that Ireland has become an economic pariah. It may not be long before we go cap in hand to the IMF. It is a shame that the government decided that we should all contribute € 7 billion to bail out a couple of banks, when private money might have been solicited. I’m not looking forward to the budget in April. But it is an opportunity to turn things around. We have a good incentive to raise our game. If we become more efficient, productive and diligent we can be an example for others to follow. It doesn’t have to be the government that leads the way. It is more likely to be individuals and private business that develops new systems, new metrics and improves performance. We have one thing going for us which can help us move on – a sense of humour. We can look at ourselves and see a bright side, be cheerful in the face of challenges and take what comes. That sort of attitude is important so as not to get too negative. So let’s keep smiling and turn things around.
And maybe the bad news is slowing down. There are signs that markets are bottoming out and people are beginning to find their feet again. Stock markets had a little bounce, but that was on low volume and shouldn’t be taken as a sign of a bull market – the recent track record has been poor. We’re seeing a bit more resilience in rental markets which is a sign that prices are adjusting. That is good news. The sooner that we can readjust asset prices, the sooner the market will clear, the sooner the economy will rejuvenate. The reality is that it will take time to get over this hangover from the 10 year binge, but if we take the right medicine it can be a quicker recovery. And although the government has performed appallingly, there are some signs that there is some sensible thinking. Gormley called for everyone to work together – this is exactly what is needed. Of course the careers of most politicians have been built on towing a party line so it is against their nature to work together, but there are those who see the benefit of working together, sharing resources and collaborating. Communities are increasingly important in these difficult times.
I recently visited Zambia to see if I could help in their work. There’s a journal of my visit with lots of photos which I think you’ll enjoy. You can see it on-line here. It is a healthy contrast to the life we lead here and really puts our difficulties in perspective – at the edge of society there are children looking for work or food because they only eat every other day. The value of giving these children an education is many times greater than the money spent to provide it – their lives are transformed and they return to their communities and help transform them as well by bringing back simple technologies of craft, agriculture, construction and so on.
Virginia Kerr, a world renowned Irish soprano, is singing at Castletown House on May 9th and all proceeds go to educate the children. Please buy a ticket or two – you’ll have a special evening and make a real difference in the world. There’s more information on the website here.
On the ground here, the growing season is picking up speed as the weather warms up. Though the ground seems to be dry. Much work still to be done and our organic inspection is next Monday.
The fishing season opened but not with the usual activity. The Slaney and other rivers are closed for salmon fishing for conservation reasons. You can see why the river needs to be protected by the pools of scum collection on the banks. Fortunately most people are pulling together to try to bring the vibrancy back to riparian habitats.
The holiday season is also picking up. And it is good to know that people still want to visit Ireland. We’ve had bookings from north America and across Europe. The more tourists the better – it’s one of the country’s major export businesses.
Yoga classes continue though will pause in a few weeks for the Easter break.
I’m looking forward to that holiday. A break from the school run and a chance to do some projects with the children.
Best wishes to all as the summer begins.