When I was a little girl my mom used to take my sister and I to Walgreens to get an ice cream sundae. Back then, like other drug stores and five and dimes, you could get a bite to eat at the counter. I had a game that I’d play every time we’d go. I’d sit on the stool and spin myself around. I would assign exotic destinations to various landing spots that the stool would stop spinning – and determine that those were the places that I would travel to in my life. I somehow knew back then that “the road” would become a huge part of my life.
Over the years people have asked me “Where is your favorite place that you’ve ever been?”. To be honest, I hated that question because I never had an answer. There were too many places, all different in their own way that attracted me to them. And then about 10 years ago I had an assignment for Islands Magazine to cover the Isle of Man.
The island pulled me in from the start. I felt a strange sense of belonging, a connection that I couldn’t explain. The air was cool and pure with a constant wind that blew across the island from one sea to the other. It’s a small island located in the Irish Sea somewhere between Ireland and Scotland. An island that’s reminiscent of Ireland 50 years ago – an island where time seems to have stopped.
Because the island is small, I didn’t feel the usual rapid pace that I have felt on previous assignments where I was given too much to cover and too little time. I could linger and catch the moods of the island and the vibe of the people. It was a magical place with open, cinematic vistas of a patchwork of every shade of green you can imagine, stretching from the barren upland’s to the blue of the sea. The sea was always present.
There were secret glens with waterfalls and I thought that fairies must surely live there, somewhere beneath the ferns. The island was enchanting on every level. One day I came upon a crowd of people in a field. I asked someone what was going on and they replied that it was a turnip weeding contest. How wonderful I thought, a contest to weed a field. I spent the morning caught up in the event, taking a few images, but mostly just talking with people and storing those conversations in my head.
And then like every other time I’ve taken to the road – my journey came to an end and it was time for me to leave. There’s a legend on the island that every time the Queen of England comes to the Isle of Man (the island is an independent nation), the great god Mananan covers the island in a mist, so that she won’t find her way there and take the isle back. The night before I left, a dense fog enveloped the isle and I thought the gods didn’t want me to leave – and I didn’t want to leave. But the fog lifted and it was my time to go, but I knew that I finally had an answer to the question “Where is your favorite place you’ve been?”