It seemed a shame to waste the sun, so we took our Sunday drive on Saturday. “Where to?” asked my husband, and I answered the way I always do. “Somewhere interesting.”
I’d heard of Festina Lente before. (Of course I had. An Irish foundation with a Latin name that sounds like a Koan?) I’d just never visited.
The foundation is based in Bray, in the grounds of an old family home. Its mission is to provide learning and employment opportunities to people whose needs are not met in mainstream environments. All welcome so.
Our first stop was the stable yard. We ambled around, read the short biographies pinned to the horses’ doors. One horse was good at reading body language, another at helping nervous riders become confident.
A puppy training class was taking place in an outdoor paddock, and we cheered on an incorrigible terrier. “ADHD,” suggested my husband, as the terrier raced in circles. His classmates sat demurely, eating treats.
In the formal garden, a group of children were celebrating a birthday. Mostly, their celebration involved skipping across the lawn, but occasionally they stopped to ring a small bell that was hanging near the wall. Our own fifteen year-old ‘baby’ watched.
We wandered beside the ornamental ponds, elegant in their symmetry. A terrapin lounged on a float, stretched its long, lovely neck to the sky.
The kitchen garden was casual and charming. Prolific, too. We drank coffee beside a tree sporting the largest pears we’d ever seen. “You’re welcome to pick one,” said the woman in the shop. “But they’re cooking pears. Hard to digest.” We bought some apples instead, freshly picked, autumn-sweet.
Impossible not to think of time in a place dedicated to its extremes of speed. MacNiece’s poem, Meeting Point, came to mind, but Time wasn’t away and somewhere else, it was here, urging itself into my consciousness.
More haste less speed is an approximation of festina lente. But I prefer the classic translation, make haste slowly. It seems more honest.
The days race by, no matter how mindful we are.
The children skip and the apples fall.