Tuesday, November 22, 2016

This is our Switzerland

Many years ago, after my mom was diagnosed with ALS but before the disease completely robbed her of her mobility, she and my dad traveled to Switzerland. I'm sure that some people privately questioned the wisdom of their decision to go; I hope that no one had the ill manners to actually say so, but if they did, my parents wisely ignored them. It was, they knew, their first and last opportunity for a trip they'd long dreamed of taking, and in the years that followed, the memories of that trip together must have been a source of strength and joy when so much else was against them. I know they never for a moment regretted it.


A little over two years ago, Jessica contacted Don Ryan with the Irish Hawking Club to inquire about attending one of their field meets. She had always wanted to see Ireland, and wisely figured that falconry might be sufficient motivation to get me on a plane with her. Don told her we would be welcome any time, but suggested we wait for the 2016 meet, which would be a joint meet of the IHC and the IAF (International Association for Falconry and Conservation of Birds of Prey). And so she waited.

In those two years, we've each lost a job unexpectedly, and our finances have not improved appreciably. There were plenty of good reasons not to go on this trip, and I expect there are some people in our lives who would question the wisdom of our going. But having endured five years of voluntary poverty (she was solvent when she met me, and married me knowing which way "for richer, for poorer" was going to work out), Jessica was determined to have this trip. And there are some indications that this may be a now-or-never prospect for us as well.

So, this is our Switzerland.


We have dived right back into our life in Nebraska. Sunday morning, we were checking out of our hotel in Dublin; by Monday afternoon, Jess was back at work and I was out hawking at Pawnee Lake. (Our first hunt of the season, and good old Stekoa caught the first rabbit we saw.) I'll be back to work myself in a couple of hours, and it's the busy season, so time will be at a premium, but I intend to post photos and stories of our Irish adventure over the next couple of weeks as time permits.

Just two photos and one tiny story for now. Any lingering doubts we may have had dissipated when we saw our Aer Lingus jet at O'Hare in Chicago. We would be flying to the land of Jessica's ancestors on the Caoimhe, which is pronounced "Keeva" and which happens to be the name of our cat. A good omen...

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