Walking


Walking is part of my life and part of my studio practice. What the latter means exactly is something that is still unfolding. I wrote a book about some of my walks and feel there's probably at least one more book yet to emerge. Many of my walking tales have been included in a number of magazines and newspapers. Writing is definitely part of my walking studio practice. So is taking photos, and more recently making simple maps of my walks.

My home and studio are at a mile high elevation in southcentral New Mexico. The sun is strong year-round. Whenever possible I walk in the Gila National Forest. These walks are usually in the evening and dependent on many things including the weather and how the day has gone. During the worst heat of the summer even twilight can still be too hot for comfortable walking of furniture stationed in the middle: a cluster of work tables, a rocking chair, and my desk. Everything else lines the walls.

It may not be as interesting as walking in a wild place, but I have managed to walk several times each week for many minutes and more than a couple of miles....all inside. I tell myself, "There is no traffic, no direct sun, no snakes (bit of a phobia when it comes to snakes), no worries about the weather, and the bathroom is just through that door!" Soon I hope to add to this site several maps that illustrate my various routes around the studio. Believe me, it's quite possible to develop a number of trails in such a place.

In the meantime I am putting some maps of walks I enjoyed within the last year in Ireland. One is from an individual short walk, and there is a set of three from three days' walking in and around Quin, Co. Clare. Hopefully there will soon be maps of a series of walks from six days in Portugal February 2016.

So for now - here are the maps of walks in Ireland and a handful of photos. As with the other images on this website, if you want to see one in a larger version, just click on the one you like!
"A good line or shape gives you another way of seeing and looking at reality, it heals your eyes."

John O'Donoghue, Four Elements: Reflections on Nature       

A short walk on a cold day in Co. Clare.
Winter 2016
Day Two: walking out from the Abbey Tavern and back again. 

Day One: 9 kms turned into 9 miles...the entirety in the rain...Newmarket on Fergus to Quin on the Mid-Clare Way.
Day Three: exploring the abbey and then out of Quin and back on the Mid-Clare Way.

Sometimes walking is more adventure than walk. Winter 2016 in Ireland was the wettest on record. In Co. Clare lakes called "turloughs" (tur-locks) rise from the ground when porous limestone fills with rain. Here I am on Day One of the Quin walks. My friend Yulia was with me and we took turns photographing each other as we crossed hand over hand and foot side-stepping to foot on this gate to avoid a confrontation in the incident of Susan  vs. turlough - the turlough won. Oh, I didn't fall in, but Yulia was exploring ahead of me and I no sooner dismounted the gate when I was told that the bank we'd hoped to navigate had sloughed off into the water (which extended as far up the way as we could see). There was nothing to do but cross the gate once more returning to where we'd started. This was the first of many detours that day and before long our planned 9 kms turned into 9 miles and 5 hours in the cold rain. The company was good and we had many laughs along the way, but I have to admit that I was happy when Quin came into view.

A winter walk in Ireland is not for those who dread the rain.

The photo on left is the Mid-Clare Way under a turlough. This is the area we were crossing the gate to get to.

Next: another stretch of the day's walk. We reached a T-junction with no waymark and decided to go left. We went in a complete circle and ended up doing this lovely track twice as a result.

Thank goodness we kept turning left whenever we had to choose or we might still be wandering out there! Sometimes detours lead to blessings and of the third photo in the row our circular detour took us to these stones. We'd never have seen them if there'd been a waymark where needed. Of course, we also would have finished our trek a mile or two sooner.

The final photo is of the Quin Abbey, now in ruins but spectacular nonetheless. I stood in the soft light during a lull in the rain and thought I could almost hear the muffled sound of sandaled feet scurrying about on various errands. It was and is quite the place.


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