We didn't celebrate our wedding anniversary this Christmas.
I can't recall right now why we got married so near Christmas and on a Sunday, too. Maybe the priest would not marry us on Christmas Eve and the day before that just happened to fall on a Sunday.
We were young. Perhaps we thought we were special in some way. I have news for me: in 1973 we were just the far side of hippy, and spliff-land was becoming as faded as a used teabag.
Anyway, yesterday, on the morning of New Year's Eve, we went for a walk in Coole Park. We were marking something but weren't sure what. It had rained heavily overnight and now the fallen leaves had made a slippery bronze coat for Coole. Leaves with shades of rust side-stepped themselves and fell face down. What we could see looked like a layer cake that had caved in.
I have no sense of direction and would even get lost going to the hot press - so we chose the path that was already made. We walked as far as the lake - a body of water is often enchanting and then at least you have reached some point that might, in a casual way, be a terminus of sorts.
All told it was an easy and not very talkative walk. You might call it laid-back, a stroll even - but the fact that we walked for two hours took the stroll out of it. At some unconscious level, I might have viewed the walk as a way of celebrating our wedding anniversary - a walk through our years together, if that's not too much blather.
On the walk I didn't have to name anything. I was a tour guide once and I can be a Chatty Katty. Today I didn't feel the need to say so much.
A soft rain almost made it romantic, in a cows-and-sheep Ireland kind of way. Himself, being fairly practical, commented on how those fallen trees would keep us in firewood for a long time, if we had a long time.
After a pause that was by no means unpleasant, he ventured: "I'd say you'd hear a few interesting sounds here at night."
I don't think he was suggesting that we come out here at night. It was just a rogue remark - and there was a place for it on this of all days, on the cusp of 2017.
We went on like this for another while. An adjective like "blissful" was swanning around in my head, but I never let it out for fear of shattering the stillness.
However, I did risk all by asking him the best way to get to Loughrea. (I had planned to visit a friend in the New Year.)
"You can't mean that you don't know the way to Loughrea!" he said.
"Well," I said, "with that new roundabout and the new road, I'd rather take the old road."
"Someone is making life easier for you but you want the hard way," he said.
"No," I said "I want the old way."
Which had me thinking for a bit about how odd I am - but I am okay about my oddness. Still, after a long minute that could easily have been five, I asked him: "Do you think I'm odd?"
"Very," he said, and he didn't feel the need to add any more words to that sentence.
We walked on like this for another while and we found the lake. It was overrated. We were out of the shelter of the trees, and the rain no longer had a 'soft-day-thank-God' feel about it. We had had everything on that path that had brought us to the lake - but we wanted more, and more let us down. More is for morons.
Still, I felt the need to mention Yeats and the swans and the fact that he probably stood here and admired them.
"Fair play to him," himself put in. He was going to say something else just then, but he didn't. Today, words could get lost, go astray, there was no need for accounting.
I didn't ask him what he was going to say. I've often found the way he holds a word back until the right time to be an act of wisdom more than anything. Myself, I babble for Ireland, and half the time I can hardly process what I'm saying.
My thoughts strayed back to his remark about what it must be like out here at night. I was now having a few rogue thoughts of my own. I wondered if people came out here at night and went further into the forest and made the beast with two backs, long after the witching hour. A few thoughts about Lyme disease crossed my mind, but now was not the time for tick talk.
At times it felt we were outside of language. Words didn't matter here, nothing mattered. Ease was here in all its glory and grace too had its place. We didn't take the path less travelled; we took the well-worn path. It serves us well.
Coole I know is important for wetland birds (I was a tour guide once). I had hoped we would hear or see the whooper swans, but they fancy low tides. Today, however, the waters were high and rising.