Thursday, March 17, 2016

Magnolia Blossoms_Part II

I managed to get outside yesterday between the rain showers and captured these pictures of the magnolia in my yard.  These shots are the best ones of the 415 that I took.  I ended up deleting more than a hundred. I'm the kind of photographer who believes in taking a lot of shots and then culling through them to find the best ones. That luxury didn't exist when using film.

My neighbors probably think I'm crazy. Someone driving by yesterday had to come to a stop before proceeding down the street.

Magnolia Blossoms_Part I

Part I of my annual post of magnolia blossoms appears below. The spring has hit my area about a month sooner than normal.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Remembering County Down

Recently, while looking through some of the traditional Irish music on YouTube, I encountered the song "County Down," a ballad written by Tommy Sands. There are a couple of versions available, one sung by Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh when she was part of the Irish band Danu and one sung by Joanna Boyle, who was a member of the Irish band Sioda when it was active a couple of years ago. My favorite version is the one sung by Joanna Boyle because it strikes me as more mournful and more emotionally touching.

For those of you unfamiliar with the geography of Ireland, County Down is one of the six counties that make up Northern Ireland, otherwise known as Ulster.  Bangor, a seaside resort alongside Belfast Lough, is located in County Down; the Mountains of Mourne, which look onto the Irish Sea, can be found in County Down as well.

My mother, who was raised by her grandmother, her aunt, and her father in a row house in Belfast, used to spend her summers in Bangor where she stayed with another aunt and her three cousins. It was a place that she always spoke fondly of when I was growing up. In the late 1960's, during the two years my father was stationed in Scotland, I spent a month each summer in Bangor. We rented a lovely bungalow overlooking Belfast Lough that first summer; the second house we rented wasn't as nice and was located among a lot of houses with no view to speak of.

After my father retired from the Navy, he and my mother first lived in England to be close to my grandfather, who was living in Cambridge. After my grandfather died, my folks moved to Northern Ireland and bought the same house in Bangor that my mother had imagined owning when she was a girl. That's where they remained until they both died. Nearly all of my Irish relatives are dead now. My relatives remaining in Northern Ireland are only distantly related--second cousins, to be exact.

Some of my memories are walking along the pathway overlooking the lough when going from Bangor West to the shops in Bangor, riding the ferry across Strangford Lough when traveling to the Mountains of Mourne with my wife and my folks, and proposing to my wife in a glen in Crawfordsburn Country Park.

At some point, my wife and I hope to visit Bangor, among other places in Ireland. It will give me a chance to see where my folks are buried, not having been able to travel to Ireland when they were dying and when they were laid to rest.