Description of Lough Carra

Excerpt from "Memoirs of my Dead Life" by George Moore

Resurgam compelled to talk of what our lives had been during the years that separated us.

How could one be overpowered with grief amid so many distracting circumstances? Everything I saw was at once new and old. I had come among my brother and sister suddenly, not having seen them, as I have said, for many years; this was our first meeting since childhood, and we were assembled in the house where we had all been born. My eyes were drawn to the way the ivy had grown all over one side of the house, and I noticed the disappearance of one of the hollies on the lawn and the gap in the woods - these things were new; but the lake that I had not seen since a little child I did not need to look at, so well did I know how every shore was bent, and the place of every island. My first adventures began on that long yellow strand, and I did not need to turn my head to see it, for I knew that trees intervened; and I knew every twisting path through the woods.

That yellow strand speckled with tufts of rushes was my first playground. But when my brother proposed that we should walk there, I found some excuse. Why go? the reality would destroy the dream; but I did not speak my thoughts for shame of them. What reality could equal my memory of the firs where the rabbits burrowed, of the drain where we fished for minnows, of the long strand with the lake far away in summer-time? How well I remember that yellow sand, hard and level in some places as the floor of a ballroom. The water there is so shallow that our governess used to allow us to wander at will, to run on ahead in pursuit of a sandpiper. The bird would fly round with little cries, and we were often certain it was wounded; perhaps it pretended to be wounded in order to lead us away from its nest. We did not think it possible to see the lake in any new aspect, yet there it lay as we have never seem it before, so still, so soft, so grey, like a white muslin scarf flowing out, winding past island and headland. The silence was so intense that one thought of the fairy books of long ago, of sleeping woods and haunted castles; there were the castles on islands lying in misted water, faint as dreams. Now and then a chaffinch uttered a piercing little chatter from the branches of the tall larches, ending defiantly, and ducks talked in the reeds, but their talk was only a soft murmur, hardly louder than the rustle of the reeds now in full leaf. The shadows of reed and island seemed fixed for ever as in a magic mirror - a mirror that somebody had breathed upon, and listening to the little gurgle of the water about the limestone shingle, one seemed to hear eternity murmuring its sad monotony.

The lake curves inland, forming a pleasant bay among the woods; there is a sandy spit where some pines have found root-hold, and they live on somehow, despite the harch sallies of the wind in winter. Along the shore dead reeds lie in rows three feet deep among the rushes; had they been placed with more regularity; and there is an old cart-track, with hawthorns growing out of a tumbled wall. The hillside is planted; beautiful beeches and hollies at one end, and at the other some lawny interspaces with tall larches swaying tasselled branches, shedding faint shadows and odours. A path leads through the wood, and under the rugged pine somebody has placed a seat, a roughly-hewn stone supported by two upright stones. For some reason unknown to me this seat always suggested, even when I was a child, a pilgrim’s seat. I suppose the suggestion came from the knowledge that my grandmother used to go every day to the tomb at the end of the wood where her husband and sons lay, and whither she was taken herself long ago, when I was in frocks; and twenty years after, my father was taken there.