I love the month of May. The month where the freshness of Spring meets the warmth of the approaching summer sun. Flowers are at their best, weekends filled with the joy of eight year olds’ Communions, the GAA championship begins and the bright nights offer many more hours of potential and hope to the day.
One of the great joys is to be able to go on longer walks in favourite places. I will not deny being a fair weather walker. To those who walk in ice filled rain beating into their faces – I salute you. I am not that girl.
When I first moved to Belfast in 1994 the Black Mountain was the same place under different occupation. Forbidden ground as it had been occupied by military forces. Gradually over time the foresight and vision of those who insisted on its reclamation have given the greatest gift this part of our city has, back to us. Terry Enright snr should of course have a plaque erected to his name as you enter the walkway to the Black Mountain.
Instead we have a signpost of a Trust, few of us feel any affinity to and most certainly do not consent to a benevolence that “allows” us to walk our own mountain in our own country – but I digress.
We walked there this week with many, many hundreds of others and somehow everything was brighter, clearer and more noticeable than usual.
As we walked up the mountain we met a father and son who stopped to chat with us on everything from landscape artistry to the Cromwellian invasion. All the while Bull Finches sang their little hearts out at us to move along while they got on with their work of making a little family.
We moved on and a woman and man were walking arm in arm towards us. Only when I was close up did I see that the man was blind and the woman was telling him what surrounded him and what the sounds were.
An older man and woman came walking towards us, having nearly finished their walk, with their two dogs. The dogs, like them were a little slow on the legs with their years, yet all four of them exuded happiness to be alive and to be together.
We were walking at a steady pace and yet were over taken by two young mothers in sports’ gear pushing their prams. This was their work out and their babies were part of it.
On the little bridge over the stream were a couple lost in their own world of love and connection. Oblivious to anyone else around them.
All around us we could hear the sound of the water in the little streams that run, an incredible variety of birdsong and the wind coming through the steel pipes that do something important, but I have no idea what. The flowers that only bogs produce in Spring were out. Before the heather blooms, there are the most delicate of orchids and other little miracles sitting, dancing in the wind and reaching for the sun light.
Up over our city sits this place where hearts can be healed, hurts eased, friendships fostered, health regained, and nature reigns. It is a great gift and one to be deeply cherished.