A Kerry farmer has said that writing a book was a therapeutic way to deal with the fears around the Covid-19 pandemic.
‘The Last Hug For a While’ was recently launched online from Lisa Fingleton’s farm, The Barna Way, near Ballybunion.
The book charts the past 18 months through a series of rhyming sentences and drawings, following observations and conversations on many topics, including farming, food and climate change.
“I think the lockdown made every interaction seem more precious and poetic,” the organic farmer said.
‘The last hug for a while’
At the beginning of the first lockdown in 2020, Lisa’s parents were leaving to go back to their home in Co. Laois after a weekend on her Kerry farm, as she said goodbye to her father he remarked that “this could be the last hug for a while”.
Lisa said she was distraught after her parents left as she did not know when she would see them again.
“So many people all over the world endured such terrible losses over the last while with huge consequences for physical and mental health,” she added.
She believes the Covid-19 pandemic has compounded loneliness and rural isolation, with people reluctant to call to neighbours for fear of passing on the virus.
The farmer’s sadness and concern for loved ones, along with anxiety about climate change and biodiversity loss, led her to write and draw.
Following a chat with a neighbouring farmer, who lives alone, she wrote:
“The climate’s gone quare around here
He said with a frown on his face
And no one is doin’ nothin
Sure it’s a pure and utter disgrace”
“That field it had mushrooms in autumn
Now I have them with butter in June
As for drills, you’re just wading in water
It’s time for a different tune”.
The food producer said that the simple rhyming structure she used in the book was “therapeutic” and helped her process the challenges of the past year and a half.
Author Michael Harding, who officially launched the book, said “when you talk about climate change and all of the things related to climate change, there is a tendency to think about it as difficult subject to talk about”.
“I think that if the environmental movement is to find a real way forward, it will be moving from the place where we are worn out and worried about stuff to a new space.
“The new space is about a sense of joy and a sense of loving the earth. So, that it is not about worrying and protecting the earth, it is about loving it,” Harding added.
He said that Lisa’s poems about ordinary things in life were “something very beautiful where love is hidden inside”.
All proceeds from the sale of the book will go towards native woodland and biodiversity projects.
Over 10,000 trees have have been planted at The Barna Way to date.