A Thumbelina moment – amongst the waters at Wicklow

As a child, I had read Thumbelina and was mesmerised, in particular by an illustration. It depicted Thumbelina perched gently on a lotus leaf, the leaf itself afloat in a beautiful pond or stream.

That illustration and the feeling it evoked has always stayed with me – floating along my memory pool and gently rising and asserting itself when I am near a lake or a pond.

In this classic tale by Hans Christian Andersen, Thumbelina is a little girl ‘scarcely half long as the thumb’ and a toad steals her from her doting parents. He takes her away on a lily leaf and tiny, sleeping Thumbelina floats down the stream.

Obviously, it wasn’t a happy situation for Thumbelina, but that image, that wonderment – what would it be like to sit atop a lily leaf and to float down the water – has stayed with me in a delightful little way.

I have always also felt a sort of envy for people who know how to swim and can swim across familiar and unfamiliar lakes, and ponds or across a stream to find a little patch of land or boulder to sit on. I would also, from time to time, wistfully watch videos where a boat takes tourists right upto a nice, blue stretch of water deep in the sea. Once there, the men and the women jump off the boat in gay abandon, swimming, floating, paddling amongst the shimmering blues. How free, how happy they must feel.

I do not know how to swim. But to be surrounded by a gentle, soothing swatch of water, where one feels like one is almost floating has remained a desire deeply rooted in me.

So when we visited Glendalough on one of the last, few days of summer, and the waters in the lower lake called out to me – almost like sirens, I upped my denims and perched myself on a rock. I was surrounded by clear water, lush green mountains, and a blue sky. I almost felt like I was afloat in a pool of nectar, the circular ripples adding to the effect, and the tiny, cherubic faces of the pebbles smiling at me from underneath the transparent veil-like waters of the lake.

I finally felt a little like Thumbelina, despite the fact that this wasn’t a stream laced with water lilies. Neither was I in the fear of being taken away by a dreadful little toad. I felt happy, I felt a deceitful sense of being free.

I am sat atop a little piece of rock. It is at the lower lake in Glendalough. You can see the circular ripples in the clear water, and hundred of tiny pebbles. It seems like I am floating in the water, and you can see in the horizon the mountains. I am wearing a denim, which has been pulled up above my ankles. And a white top with mango shaped patterns. My hair is short, held together by black pins, and I am also wearing spectacles, and I sit holding together my knees.

It makes me wonder. So much of our imagination and desires are rooted in the past – things that we have read about, seen or heard.

So if you were to find yourself, in a landscape that echoed fragments from your dreams, what would you do? Would you become Thumbelina for a day, or climb a beanstalk like Jack?

Here you can see my feet and a part of my legs. My feet are immersed in the waters of the Lower lake, upto my ankles. The water is like a clear veil, and you can see the pebbles and the rocks and the round, circular ripples, and the mountains, aflush with lots of trees and the last of the summer sun...
You can see the waters of the upper lake, spread out in a deceptively thin, layer like way upon the sandy, pebbled shore of the lake. Flagged by a tree and mountains, it looks right out of wonderland
The Upper Lake at Glendalough on a shiny, shimmering last of the summer day…

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