I can vividly remember my favorite experience in nature. It was this past summer in Ireland when I went to Northern Ireland to visit my family in Belfast. My cousin’s wife, Margaret, took me to the coast for the day and we stopped at the Giant’s Causeway.
On the drive toward the coast, it was raining on and off all morning. I could see the sun fighting to emerge from the clouds. I remember thinking how different it is there than in the states; even when it is raining, the sky is still bright. “They say there are 40 shades of green in Ireland,” Margaret told me as I was admiring the vibrancy of the hills. The coastline sailing past my window looked exactly like the post cards, only brighter with a crisp, fresh smell of pure nature that can only be experienced in person.
I was just beginning to take it all in, and then the two-hour car ride was already over! We stepped out of the car and fought the salty wind to close the doors. Thank goodness the rain had stopped. As I ran to the top of a small hill along the car park for a picture, I just stood and stared at the crashing, crystal waves about five stories below. I can still hear them rumbling against the rocks and feel the mild breeze yanking my hair.
We met up with Margaret’s sister and niece at the visitor center, and continued to walk along the causeway. I lagged behind the group; my eyes were like magnets pulling toward the ocean, the rocks, the hills. I didn’t know where to look. I was stunned from the beauty surrounding me in all directions. I do not remember seeing any birds, or hearing any animals; I can only recall the whooshing of the wind in my ears and screaming to each other in order to be heard over nature’s elements.
As we continued, I stopped to observe the Giant’s stepping stones. These are the most remarkable miracle of nature that I have ever witnessed. The Giant’s stepping stones are perfectly hexagonal rock columns that shoot up from the earth which are formed from solidified volcano lava. I could not believe that lava had burst from the earth’s core and solidified into thousands of hexagons. I have never seen anything in nature this shape before. As I ran my hand along the edges of the stones, they were smooth and I had to keep touching them in disbelief that they were so perfect. As the wind was still ripping at my hair and pelting my cheeks I fought against it to climb the stepping stones. I looked down between the cracks of the stones at the shades of green grass and clovers making homes among the rocks. Little purple flowers scattered themselves among the green. I looked down at the scattered hexagons along the water’s edge, and the way the water sparkled and rolled against the rocks was calming. The rocks lay piled up along the water like a million little ants crawling toward blue Kool-Aid. I wanted to sit and listen to the waves all day.
I was thankful that the rain had stopped so I wouldn’t slide off the towering rocks. We still got wet, however, as the wind threw the ocean’s water at us when we walked along the cliff. Further along the cliff, I could see more columns shooting up off the edge of the path. The columns towered over me like a fortress wall, and were all shaped in perfection by nature. This group of rocks is called Giant’s Organ. The way the solidified lava towered over the cliff did look exactly like the pipes of a giant organ. This organ, however, was beautifully decorated in green and purple flowers sprouting out among the pipes. Little green vines twirled up the pipes accompanied by patches of moss. The noise of waves and wind in my ears was more beautiful than any song a real organ could play. I wish my Irish grandmother was with me; I looked up to the blue sky and smiled at her.
After walking for about a mile or two up and down hills, the sky began to turn grey, but was still sunny. Of course, as we turned to head back to the car park, it started to sprinkle. Then, as we approached steps up the hillside, the rain came down harder and felt like skittles were being pelted at my face with a baseball bat. Margaret and I struggled to walk forward up the steps as the wind blew us backwards. I could not see anything because it hurt to open my eyes to the rain. Margaret and I held onto our hoods for dear life as we looked at each other and cracked up.
I was able to observe the beautiful, peaceful side of Giant’s Causeway, and then I was privileged to experience the stormy side of the coast. I cannot say that I saw much of the stormy side because it blinded me to open my eyes, but I felt the wind get stronger than it already was,the temperature drop, and the rock-hard raindrops. This did not ruin the trip, it gave Margaret and me something to laugh about as we watched each other struggle to stand up, and it was adventurous and fun. Throughout all of the rain, the sun was out. This was the strangest thing for me to comprehend. It was just so different than anything I was accustomed to. The clouds were not black and the sky did not turn monstrous like a typical storm in New York.
I would go back to Ireland and relive this experience in a heartbeat. Just thinking about and recalling my memories makes my senses race back to the day and feel it all over again. I want to smell the salty water and have it splashed against me again. I want to hear the wind and have it tangled through my hair. I want to feel miniature again as I stand among the Giant’s Organ and climb the Giant’s Stepping Stones. I want to be consumed by the 40 shades of green, and take them all home with me. Just being able to experience something like this once; however, is very special. Walking though the causeway and exploring along the coast of Ireland has truly given me a new appreciation of nature.