To Err is Human, to Arr is Pirate!

There’s this smell that is so perfect that I can’t help but smile and feel happy to be alive. Let’s see if I can share it with you.

Think of your favorite food, it’s aroma slowly building into a crescendo of mouth watering anticipation. Allow yourself to savor it. Think of your favorite flower, or a newly mowed lawn, or anything that opens its buds in spring. Envision that freshness of life surrounding you, green and blue and pink and orange and yellow. Think about your favorite music. Listen for the sounds that make you smile, the sounds that bring you peace, the sounds that fill you with energy.

Now, think about your favorite people. Those you love most, those who make you laugh the most, those who accept you for who you are unconditionally. Place them beside you.

Breathe it in.

It’s a lot, isn’t it? It’s like walking into a wall of emotion and memory, but it’s so good.

This was, incidentally, what my Saturday afternoon was like. Erin and I made our way to the Fells Point Privateer Festival, and oh boy, what a time we had! Such sounds, smells and smiles!

A very talented pirate troupe took the stage to serenade us with sea shanties.

Soooo crowded!!!

I have always loved street fairs. Not only do they provide an excuse to eat fried food and people watch, but they also herald spring’s persistence and the approach of summer. And that is a time worthy of rejoicing.

This festival was a new experience though. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been to local fests, but this was the first piratical fair I’ve experienced. I have never seen so many corseted wenches and tricornered-hatted men in my life. Seriously.

Reenactors chilling on the pier.

A tall ship!

I should probably mention that it wasn’t all food and professional pirates – if you wanted your own gear you could peruse the vendors and choose from hats, gowns, waistcoats, jewelry, and so much more to add to your wardrobe.

Ugh, I wanted one so badly! They're a pretty penny though.

 

Cthulhu-esque arm cuff.

 

I invested in this nifty vest. I was quite excited to wear it!

Despite the inevitable sunburn, I had a blast. I thoroughly enjoyed singing along to sea shanties, eating delicious food (bacon wrapped mozzarella sticks, anyone?), and absorbing the sights and smells of Baltimore in the springtime.

Missing the Emerald Isle

It’s almost been a week since I returned and as much as I’m enjoying good strong coffee and Christmas movie marathons, there are things about Ireland that I already miss. Although a few of them are seasonal, like the less obtrusive Christmas and holiday paraphernalia, some of them are of a more permanent nature.

Time for a List!

  1. That Irish Accent. When I was in Cork I was surrounded by people with Irish, German, French, Dutch, and English accents. I hung out with Americans in and out of class, but I still spent a good amount of time with very mellow non-American accents. Being back in Jersey has made me understand why people say Americans are loud and, well, easy to poke fun at. Don’t get me wrong, I know I have an accent (I drop my constants constantly), but I’m still getting used to my parents making “cawfee” in the morning.
  2. Respect for Pedestrians. Coming from the tri-state area means you’re used to all sorts of drivers, and if you visit the city often enough you know you have to book it across the street if you don’t want to get run over, even if you have a green light. I originally thought I’d have major issues in Ireland, with them driving on the opposite side of the street and everything. But honestly, they are some of the most polite drivers in the world. They actually wait for you to cross the street, and they don’t stop within a hairsbreadth of you or trigger a mini-heart attack while you speed walk past a sign that says “pedestrians have right of way.”
  3. Sense of Anonymity. Cork may not be a big city, but it’s large enough I wouldn’t run into 10 people from UCC I knew while grocery shopping. Coming from a small town where that happens on a regular basis really made me appreciate the just-right size of Cork. Not too big so I can walk to classes and stores easily, and not too small so that everyone knew my business.
  4. Food Quality. Especially the dairy products. I don’t think I had ever seen so many brands and types of butter until I went to Tesco in Cork. It took up half an aisle. I’m not kidding. The Irish love their butter, and they know you get what you pay for. I have been completely spoiled on fresh eggs, fresh butter, fresh milk, fresh cheese, fresh meat, fresh everything. If you shopped at the English Market you’d be guaranteed low prices and great quality while supporting local farmers and shop owners. My parents cook almost all our dinners from scratch, but I’m still going to miss buying a bushel of carrots with the green leaves still attached.
  5. Chips. Not Fries, Chips. You haven’t experienced Ireland properly until you have some chips at Jackie Lennox’s, Chipsy King, or, honestly, any place that cuts their own. The Irish have perfected chips: light and fluffy on the inside, crispy and crunchy on the outside. The only place at home that can compete from home is Cream King, and it’s only open in the summer, so I’m kind of bummed about that.

What I miss most of all, or rather, who I miss most of all are the people. The Irish are extremely friendly, outgoing, and have a very quirky sense of humor. From shop owners to students you’d be greeted with a smile and wave, and I can’t tell you how many times a 5 minute conversation turned into an hour discussion. I know I’ll stay on contact with my friends via Facebook and all, but those group invites to see The Hobbit and Merry Christmas Wishes tug at my heartstrings a little. Hopefully I’ll be back soon!

Sensory Exploration

Shuffle shuffle fwoomp, ugh, sweater hair, straighten. Slip tie, slip tie, up we go. Shrug shr-, oh drat arm’s stuck; I’ll have to repair that sleeve hole, -ug, straighten, slip button slip button. Hoist, grunt, mmf, shift, check jacket collar, earbuds in, pull the handle, step, step, Step…
Stairs!
Step…
Step…
Push, check reflection in windows, push, step step and
Woah.

It’s overpowering. Crisp air, gray sky, fresh leaves, slight breeze, chilly fingers, stinging eyes.

It’s autumn.

If you ask me what my favorite smell is I wouldn’t be able to give you a direct answer. I would debate and question myself indeterminately for hours and it would still be tied between woodsmoke, old books, freshly fallen leaves, and sautéed onions.

More leavesRight now two out of four infiltrate my nostrils as I walk to classes and a third will be served with tonight’s dinner. As I sit writing this at my dining room table, steam rises from the air vent outside, hits my window, and makes visible waves of moisture, reminding me of Jack Frost’s fingers on a snowy window pane. It’s getting me excited for November.

I can’t wait for the crunch of leaves underfoot, the wooly happiness of snuggling into a scarf, the smell of hot apple cider, the

Oh. Wait. Cider.

Just thinking of it makes my mouth water and transports me back to second grade, staring at the giant wall of trees in the state park at home. My Girl Scout troop is tramping through the dew covered leaves, wiping away at bleary Saturday morning eyes and hungrily looking ahead to the trail-mix in our leader’s backpack. Orienteering always meant an energy-zapping morning followed by hot cider stored in thermoses, PB&J sandwiches, and the previously mentioned trail mix. I’m pretty sure there was an early bedtime when I got home.

But that cider.

Sweet, spiced, and simple, the piping hot drink will always make me happy, no matter how busy or stressed I am.

I usually don’t get homesick, but right now I have to admit that I kind of miss the fall rituals from home. Even though I’ve outgrown some of them, it’s still nice to look back and bask in the memory of reading Harry Potter with my dad after a bike ride on the canal path, or frantically looking for a tissue after coming inside from raking leaves in the chilly October air.

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Yeah, I’m definitely missing the pumpkin carving and corn mazes right now.

If I’m this psyched over fall, I hate to think about how I’ll be come December.

Don’t get me started on freshly chopped pine trees.