“In Wild Places Light Illuminates Beauty …”

Table decorations, alongside the fruit of the Gods.
Bush table decor at my 50th birthday bash.   Photograph by Cynthia Morris.

An Irish philosopher poet accompanied me to Livingstone. When I left America I packed him away in my heart and in my mind. He boarded the plane with me in Virginia and together we took off into the wild. As we flew through the shape-shifting clouds, John O’Donohue leant across to me, cupped his hand over my ear, and whispered the following words:

Often it takes a huge crisis or trauma to crack the dead shell that has grown ever more solid around us. Painful as that can be, it does resurrect the longing of the neglected soul. It makes a clearance. Again we see the horizons and feel their attraction. Though we may wince with vulnerability as we taste the exhilaration of freedom, we feel alive!”

Wild pillars.
Wild pillars.

John O’Donohue died in 2008, but I carry him with me wherever I go. He’s written some of the most poetic, compassionate lines I’ve ever read. John O’Donohue adored wild places. He grew up in one. He saw no separation between us and the natural world. I don’t either.

Bush candles.
Bush candles.

This Irish philosopher poet showed up again at my 50th birthday party. This time he wasn’t whispering. He was celebrating (like only those from the west of Ireland know how). John O’Donohue raised his glass of ‘uisce beatha‘ when he saw me in the embrace of renewed friendships, of a family reconnected, of long-awaited-for love. He knocked the whiskey back in one go and asked for another. Then he stared at me intently and said:

Although there are no guarantees in the kingdom of risk, nature shows us, time and again, that it is precisely at that moment of greatest risk, the moment when everything could be lost, that greatest change happens. A new life opens out into a new world that could never have been dreamed before this.”

Wild art.
Wild art.  Photograph by Cynthia Morris.

I have entered this new world, filled with wild places. I thank John O’Donohue for accompanying me here, for showing me that “we recover within us some of the native integrity that wild places enjoy outside.” … 

But mostly I thank Chris.

Bush bottles.
Bush bottles.

Annabel Hughes is an award-winning chef and blogger, and the creator of “bush gourmet” cuisine.

0 Comments

  • BEAUTIFULLY written, Bella. Ireland and Africa make such a great combination; plenty of soul and humour. Great photos of the party decorations too. xx

    Reply
    • Thank you, sweet Kate. Yes, the two places have many similarities, to be sure. I love them both, as I know you do. xo

      Reply
  • Sigh … such romance … so refreshing as one turns 50 … mellow, calm and mindful. Well done Bella! xxx

    Reply
    • Thank you so much, Roxy … one more John O’Donohue quote just for you: “… Rather than taking us out of ourselves, nature coaxes us deeper inwards, teaches us to rest in the serenity of our elemental nature. When we go out among nature, clay is returning to clay.” We are so lucky to be living amongst it all, aren’t we? Much love to you … xo

      Reply
  • Love where you are today, Annabel. It shines all over you. Happy Birthday, Happy Life!!!!!

    Reply
    • Thank you so much, Gilda. Perhaps one day you will come out and visit us? I would love to show you all of this. It’s beautiful. Lots of love to you … xo

      Reply
  • Pterocarpus angolensis, Combretum mossambicense and Erythrina abyssinica pods pulled together with Leonotis nepetifolia or ..

    Mukwa, Bushwillow and Red-hot-poker fruits blended with Lion’s ear catmint (also known as wild dagga). The bush decorations could have just as easily been on the menu!

    What a place to be at this time in your life.

    Reply
    • Wow, Trudy! Such knowledge! Thank you for sharing it with me. I do feel so lucky and grateful for being here now. All the best to you, Annabel

      Reply
  • You can take a girl out of the bush … but she’ll probably be back!
    Have a wonderful evening. Thanks for the introduction to another Irishman. Love from us both to you both xx

    Reply
    • Haha, Georgie, so when can I expect to see you? Thank you for your sweet comment … the Irishman about whom I write is well-worth knowing … almost as worthy as the OTHER one in your life! Much love to you both … xo

      Reply
  • Oh radiant one, Happy Birthday! Your smile is beaming through your wonderful words. So happy for you.
    And by the way – Martha can’t hold a candle to your exquisite bush decor – love it!
    Cheers and much love from all of the Dodsons. 🙂 xoxo

    Reply
    • Lovely Courtney, thank you! I am happier than I have ever been but, as you know, it was quite a journey getting here! And thank you for your kind compliment on the bush decor … do you think Martha might want to start a new range? 😉 Much love to you all … xo

      Reply
  • Beautiful post and fabulous party. Hope today has been very happy! Xx

    Reply
    • Thank you, Franks! It was so lovely to see you again, and thank you for coming all the way down to celebrate! Lots of love to you and Mark … xo

      Reply
  • Ah Annabel, beautifully put, and so very insightful of your new life!

    Reply
    • Thank you very much, Kevin. And thanks to the Camp Nkwazi staff, you, and Paul and Marna for abetting my transition from the old world into the new!

      Reply
  • Absolutely stunning….you really do have a touch of class African style and we just love it …..We have enjoyed every article you have sent ….look forward to the next one 🙂 Well and so beautifully done 🙂

    Reply
    • Hello Rozanne. Thank you for your kind comment. It is wonderful receiving feedback like yours and it really encourages me to keep going! I have a lot of fun producing the different posts, and I’m delighted you enjoy them. Please stay in touch, and this comes with my best wishes to you … Annabel

      Reply
  • I saved this to read again, and having just reread it for about the fourth time I still have to blink to see the keyboard. Your blogs are very enjoyable and thanks to Mandy Retzlaff for sharing the link. From Lao, another somewhat wild place.

    Reply
    • Hello Doug … thank you very much for taking the time to write such a beautiful comment. It makes me so happy when I learn others are enjoying my posts. Thanks to the lovely Mandy Retzlaff, too! I was just reading up on Lao yesterday because my latest post, a recipe using green papaya, originated there. Blogging makes this world seem much smaller and more accessible, and I like that. All the best to you, Annabel

      Reply

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: