I traveled to the small village of Ballycastle, Ireland in early June to take a week-long printmaking workshop at the Ballinglen Arts Foundation. The instructor, Ron Pokrasso is from Santa Fe, New Mexico. It would have been a cheaper option to take the class in “Beyond Monotype” at his home studio but I have been to Santa Fe numerous times and was looking forward to exploring new territory. Since I love Irish music & culture and loathe hot weather, Ireland seemed like an ideal location.
Travel for the sake of travel is not my thing (see my post “The Reluctant Traveler”). Wandering around looking at tourist attractions is tedious for me. If I have no other purpose to be there other than being just an observer, I am bored. Give me a sense of purpose and I am engaged. In the past, Spanish language immersions with homestays gave me the opportunity to experience Mexico & Central America on an intimate level.
Then about eight years ago, I realized if I was going to get serious about my art without domestic distractions, I was going to travel away from home and immerse myself in creativity for a good week. I was fortunate to discover Ghost Ranch Retreat Center in N. New Mexico where I have returned most summers to get a creative & spiritual boost. Even though I plan to return there in the future, I am widening my options now to other locations.
It’s been my experience that when I travel with a purpose, not only do I learn more skills, I develop deeper social & cultural connections. There are so many options to chose from in this regard. During this trip, we ran into an enthusiastic group traveling with a knitting and spinning focus. There are trips and classes that are focused on gardening, photography, history, you name it. Next year I hope to go to an Irish music camp in North Carolina.
If you are a reluctant traveler, as I am, or an experienced traveler, consider traveling to creativity in the future. It will definitely add new dimensions to your skill set and give your travel more depth.
Animal, vegetable, or mineral?
I was walking along a beach in Ireland and came upon a small upturned Jellyfish. On focusing in, it was quite beautiful.
I don’t know how you experienced travelers do it. For me to leave on any trip is a challenge, let alone an overseas trip. Here is a glimpse of my reality. The good news is, I am finally here my printmaking workshop at the Ballinglen Art Center, Ballycastle, County Mayo, Ireland.
It all started with an idea
to a penciled entry on my calendar
Later changing to ink.
As the date drew closer and closer
Loose ends started appearing everywhere
Coming out of crevices
I didn’t know existed.
I tripped repeatedly over them
And as one grabbed my ankle
I fell into a vortex
Of whirling procrastination.
Round and round I went
Until I grabbed the
Dangling loose ends
Pulled myself up
Then tied them all together in a tight knot.
I finished gathering all my belongings
Breathless, I found my seat, buckled up
And sighed with relief.
The door closed
We taxied and took off.
Peering below were a few more loose ends
Shrinking in the distance
Gyrating like frustrated cobras
Trying to bite me.
But it was too late
I was off.
Last November I took a walk with two friends at the Mendenhall Glacier just out of Juneau, Alaska. The day was cold, clear, crisp & the winter shadows long.
Travel for humans, for the most part, is a lifestyle choice. We travel the earth to seek & experience, new destinations that pull on our hearts. But humans aren’t the only travelers on this planet. When it comes down to it, we are totally put to shame by those in the animal world where travel is mandatory. For many, the mysterious urge of migration calls some of the earth’s smallest inhabitants to take journeys unfathomable to our minds.
- Consider the Arctic Tern who flies from the Arctic to the Antarctic and back every year. Monarch butterflies fly thousands of miles through several generations from regions throughout Canada to one small mountaintop in Mexico to spend the winter. Pacific salmon are born in mountain streams and swim down to the open ocean only to return years later. They travel the hundreds of miles to that very spot where they hatched, to reproduce, & subsequently die. The pull of migration affects tiny hummingbirds, whales, caribou, wildebeest & many other species too numerous to name.
As a trained naturalist, and as I ponder my own motivations for travel, I wonder what it must be like for one of these creatures when one day, they wake up and its time for them to leave? What do they experience when often they must depart the only place they have every known to embark on an unfathomable journey of such physical magnitude?
I wrote this poem thinking of a bird during its first migration & what it might be like….
A sliver of a moon
Shimmered off my left shoulder
As we pumped our wings
Through the darkness of the frigid night.
The urge unexplained
Tugged on my soul
& led me onward, North
Guided by stars
And the pull of the earth.
leaving the familiar behind
An unknown destiny awaiting.
I revel in the freedom of flight
Trusting the whispers from deep within
I follow the others to a foreign land
On a course mapped by generations before me.