14 January 2014

Dawn breaks on working mornings with
bright sunshine between the dark trees

Dawn breaks above the skeletal trees and the dew-covered lawn this morning (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2014)

Patrick Comerford

The new semester is well and truly under way, with daily cycle of worship in the chapel, lectures, seminars, faculty meetings, tutorial groups and shared meals, as well as dissertation supervision and essay marking.

Winter is still snapping back in cold bites throughout the day, and the drive along the Dodder is beautiful but interspersed with reminders that I should not try to deceive myself yet that Spring is knocking at the door.

Morning mist still covers any open expanse of grass by the river bank, on the slopes behind Rathfarnham Village, and on the lawn in front of my office. The tall trees are still bare, and in the early morning shortly before sunrise their black branches look elegant but skeletal against the deep blue of the sky.

The tall trees are elegant but skeletal against the pre-dawn blue sky on the banks of the Dodder in Rathfarnham (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2014)

Sunday afternoon an evening provided a light break between a working weekend with the part-time MTh students and the return of the full-time students on Monday morning for the new semester.

In the afternoon, I attended a birthday party for a three-year-old ... I had taken part in her baptism almost two years ago. I learned more about drumming on Sunday afternoon than I ever imagined, and was gently tutored about the differences between drums from Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal, Gambia and Mali, the differences between drums made from cow’s skin or the skin of goats, antelopes and even horses. And the different sounds made by the depth and carving of the wooden bases, with their different carvings, shapes and designs.

Learning about African drums at a child’s birthday party (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2014)

On Sunday evening, two of us had dinner in the Gables in heart of the village of Foxrock, beside Leopardstown racecourse. The award-winning restaurant and wine shop are housed in a pretty old Victorian property that once housed Findlater’s food shop.

One of us had a Warm Salad of Five Mile Town Goats Cheese and Beetroot, with mesculin leaves, roasted beetroot, orange and a hazelnut dressing; and a Spring Risotto, with grilled courgettes, aubergines, scallions, oven roasted tomatoes and parmesan shavings. And one of us had Crayfish Tails and New Potato Salad, with scallions, celeriac remoulade, mixed leaves and a citrus dressing; Fish Pie, which was a combination of salmon, prawns, mussels, cod and smoked haddock, cooked in a white wine sauce with creamed potato and a mixed leaf salad; and crème brulee.

Although the Gables has an impressive wine list, we shared a carafe of Pinot Grigio. And we followed the meal with two double espressos.

Outside in the cold evening, we strolled in the bright winter light through Foxrock village, window shopping in the Guinness Gallery and the estate agents.

The deep blue nights this week are bright and star-filled. I hope it stays that way for the next few nights, and that the full moon is bright and clearly visible on Thursday evening.

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