Wednesday, February 11, 2004
It's a good life, and it's even better for the "Singles in Ireland." I think everyone would agree that today was a real "10." We have been blessed with the most incredible weather since we have been here. Not a drop of rain or drizzle! But today was truly spectacular. Today bloomed as sunny as the nodding daffodils and crocus. It is really springtime in Ireland.
We are all enjoying walking the grounds and admiring the beginnings of the spring season--especially the new lambs. We passed flocks of sheep with tiny lambs at their mothers' sides.
Despite a few late-nighters, everyone was eager and excited about today's ride. After further evaluation, the riders were divided into three groups according to experience. The more advanced group was narrowed to six because today was going to be a fast run. I was happy to find myself in this group.
Our group took off first and after just one good gallop, most of us were taking off jackets and gloves. The temperature was reaching into the 50s. Cross Country International prepared all of us for rainy weather daily; but we have found none of it! Many of us rode in turtlenecks with jackets around our waists. And now we were ready for a romp. Our guide Charon was on a beautiful dark bay with a penchant for the run. After a few short bursts of cantering to make sure everyone was comfortable, Charon pulled the plug and off we went. The horses were unbelievable. We flew down dirt roads, around sharp turns, up hills and through streams. The exhilaration of "being in the zone" was palpable. Riders slowed to a brisk trot with huge smiles and about 10 pounds of mud on our faces. It was the best beauty treatment ever--we were all glowing inside, where it mattered most.
This trail is named the Silver Stream, and during the ride we encountered many cows and their calves along with the sheep. Most of the livestock was behind fencing, but not all. After passing a herd of cows, I turned around to find my trail buddies were mooing and moving swiftly into formation with the horses. Luckily they lost interest in our adventure soon enough.
When we stopped for lunch at this adorable tea shop, Cathy from Colorado and I were lagging behind, and heard this persistent car horn sounding. Someone was making a lot of noise, which startled us because it was so peaceful on the trails. As it happens, the car was driving a herd of cows down the street! The cows were very cooperative until a car coming from the opposite direction caused them to move more quickly than they wanted. I have never heard cows make so much noise. Obviously they were Irish cows prepared to move only at their own pace. The car waited.
After lunch we were met by a local historian and entertaining storyteller. He related the Irish heritages of members of the ride and showed us the ruins of an ancient "apartment building" he had purchased. It was situated beside a very picturesque waterfall and stream.
Back at Kinnitty Castle, I met up with Kirstin from Massachusetts, who was taking a lesson in falconry. She and the keeper, Jack, were on the lawn in front of the castle with a very cooperative falcon, who was strutting her stuff as only falcons can.
Tonight is yet to unfold, but given recent history of the "Singles" I am not ruling anything out!