Anything Worthwhile is Going to Take Some Effort
Listened to the show sometime in the middle of the night Sunday because my laptop battery died at the Dublin airport, and it was not bad. It had been a long eleven days of travel, and I learned more and grew more in Ireland than I ever imagined I would. Visiting a new place will do that to a person. Bit uncomfortable at times, but not at all bad. Besides, anything worthwhile is going to take some effort.
There was the long flight, the language issues, the whole euro exchange and figuring that out, the moving around and having to keep track of everything, the inability to talk with people back at home (my cell was pretty much useless), the activity-induced aches and pains, the thin hotel walls at places here and there, jet lag and its ensuing fatigue on both ends, the frustration with not being able to find our way on occasion, a tumble I took in a slippery shower, not enough time to see everything we wanted to see, or see more of what we did see, the pile of bills waiting at home, the empty fridge, blah blah blah.
No, travel is not easy. But what you learn and experience is so much more that it cancels out anything I might consider inconvenient. My gosh. I learned so much about Ireland and its people, and I have a much stronger sense of one of the places my family comes from. I ate some food that was beyond-description delicious. I spent more time with my mother in one stretch than I have in a long time, and I got to see her climb to the very top of the Cliffs of Moher while I hung back a bit. I met old Irishmen who told me stories, and young Irishwomen who explained things for me. I drank a Guinness, I smelled the morning air in Dublin and breathed in the evening air in Killarney. I listened to accordion and fiddle music while I sat near a fire and ate apple crumble. I kissed the Blarney stone, and I saw a fairy tree.
I could go on for forty-five pages or more about what I learned. It’s what I remembered during those eleven days that is as important: I remembered how large the world is, and how small, and how much of it I have not seen; how patient I can be; how you can feel love for people you’ve never met before; how good it is to have the mother I have; how much I miss my kids and how independent they’re becoming; how much I count on Mr. S and how grateful I am for him; how it feels to say, “I am an American”; how good homemade pizza tastes; how precious it is to have one’s own home. I remembered I’m no spring chicken, and I remembered what it feels like to just be. I remembered Minnesota in the springtime, and purple lilacs, and how the birds seem to come out of nowhere and fill up the trees. And I remembered that we each get one life, and it is short, and beautiful, and this is mine. And then I ordered an Irish coffee. Because I was there, because I could. And it tasted quite delightful.
Here’s a recipe that comes close to the best scone I ate in Ireland. It’s quite simple, and it works with honey and butter, or jam, or simply on its own.
Maple Oatmeal Scones
2 cups flour
1½ cups oatmeal
1½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 stick butter
½ cup buttermilk*
½ cup maple syrup
3 T sugar
½ tsp maple extract
½ tsp vanilla
½ tsp cinnamon
⅛ tsp ginger
⅓ cup raisins
⅓ cup chopped pecans, optional
Combine dry ingredients (except raisins) in bowl and mix thoroughly. Cut in butter until walnut-sized chunks remain. Add buttermilk, maple syrup and egg, and stir briefly until dough comes together. Add raisins (and pecans if desired) and mix a bit more. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured board and pat evenly into a circle about ¾ inch thick. Cut into pie-shaped pieces. Bake on greased cookie sheet at 375° until light golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from sheet, glaze with confectioner’s icing (flavored with a bit of orange is nice) if desired or dot with butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
*If you have no buttermilk, you can substitute yogurt or sour cream one to one, or ½ cup milk and ½ teaspoon lemon juice or vinegar.