I live at the foot of a mountain. She is called Sliabh na mBan.
She is truly beautiful.
Her face changes with every season, from lush summer greens to autumnal purples and reds. In the winter she is dusted with dashes of white; in the spring she wears limes and yellows.
Some days she hides her face behind the swirling mists and others she blushes deeply under fiery evening sunsets.
I have sat and watched these last few weeks as she has been stripped of her crowning glory. The lumberjacks have come. With breath-taking speed and accuracy they have torn away her trees to expose the earthy scalp beneath, leaving their lines scraped into the dirt.
I feel her pain.
Having passed through many seasons myself, I am feeling the furrows of age. My crowning glory is not what it once was. My face is lined with love and loss. My body betrays me with aches and pains in places that didn’t exist ten years ago.
I admire my mountain.
Men come and men go, their marks fading into the dust. Some make her their home for a while then migrate on with time. Some use her for pleasure, some for profit. But she endures it all with grace, weathering the years from one decade to the next.
Me, not so much.
Ageing is hard.
Nature brings changes that don’t feel natural at all, constantly shuffling me forward out of my comfort zone. Biology tells me my body is doing exactly what it should be doing. Society tells me otherwise as it tries to shoehorn me into a more aesthetically pleasing version of myself.
As I kick against age, my mountain rests stoically, accepting, enduring. Her trees will grow back and she will wear her lush crown again. Mine will never again be what it once was.
As the years pass by I will watch her from down here, envious of her beauty as mine slips away; her ability to regenerate and replenish while my own stores slowly deplete as they are given or taken from me.
Each morning I will shuffle into my kitchen and look up at her face. Each year she will fade a little more as my eyes start to fail me. I am only human after all; she is immortal.
Sliabh na mBan – Mountain of the Women. Is there strength or a bitter irony to be taken from her name?