The sky in Ireland is many layered and dramatic. There are more shapes and types of cloud than I have seen anywhere else. They ride the air currents, criss-crossing each other like lattice, paths cutting across paths at differing angles.
And the sky feels big, especially out in the open landscape, as though there is more sky than land. A massive dome encircling that small, jewel-green land.
One’s eyes refocus with all that space, they become accustomed to seeing vastness rather than looking at everything up close. And with sight stretching out, so too does the breath. All that space, all that air, all those clouds scudding back and forth.
There is blue sky to be seen, too, but it’s often a small patch, somewhere up above all those layers of cloud, glimpsed in between, often by chance.
My impression now, 12 years later, is that I can still remember each clear-sky day I experienced during those 5 years. But memory plays tricks like that.
There was one day that was particularly memorable, though. I was studying Irish in the South West for the summer and my classmates and I decided to make the most of our day off. We hitched a ride to Dunquin and convinced a fisherman to take us across the water to the largest of the Blasket Islands.
It was a hot day, or seemed hot compared to the other days that summer. It might have been 25º. The sky was an impossible blue, deep and wide and stretching away from Ireland out over the Atlantic into forever.
After we’d explored the abandoned ruins of what had once been a thriving village, we walked up the hill to the spine of the island. It was a large, rounded hill covered in heather and other small flowers suited to the constantly blowing winds. A few of us lay down there in the sun and stared up into the blue of the sky. The water, I remember, reflected the sky so perfectly that it seemed, with Ireland at our backs, that there was nothing else in the world. We were on a bit of green in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by pure, uninterrupted blue.
That is what perfect peace looks like – feels like.
I don’t think I ever saw another day that was quite so clear while I was there. Then again, maybe I did but just wasn’t in the right frame of mind to notice.
Nevertheless, whenever I’d visit Canada during those five years abroad, I’d find myself staring up at the clear blue, spellbound. The sky is less complex here. It is either monotone grey, or blue with a few white clouds, or a deep expansive blue. And that deep blue seems bluer and happens more frequently here. I’d never noticed before, never appreciated, that we, too, had our own deep expanse of openness; ours stretches up into infinite blue.
Even now, whether biking to work or relaxing in the garden, the sight of a clear blue sky draws my attention, transfixes me, draws me in. I stare at it, imagining there is just blue sky and me.
I wonder why there aren’t as many myths about the blue as there are about the sun, the stars and the moon.