By Linda Ash
My daughter Jennifer and I have just returned from a week in Ireland -- the land of fairy forts, shamrocks and numerous pubs, ancient ruins, castles and churches.
It was a wonderful escape. I barely watched television. I didn't turn on my cell phone. I avoided news websites and just glanced at the Dublin papers delivered to my hotel room each morning.
I also didn't give the end of the world a second thought as I traveled away from the Cliffs of Moher on the day of the winter solstice. It was a true vacation from the news of the day. The only cliff I worried about was the one I was standing on there in County Clare along the Atlantic's edge.
I did think about guns when I spotted Irish police - the Garda - and noticed that they were not armed, but then I was off marveling over Dublin's Georgian townhouses and their colorful doors (painted different colors so that husbands could find their way home following a night of drinking at the pub).
I didn't let reality seep back in until the day after I had returned to the states from Ireland. It was Christmas Eve, and I turned on the television just in time to learn there had been a shooting in Stephens City. I called police and posted information they gave me to nvdaily.com.
My first day back in the office was Wednesday - and a lovely drive into work I did not have. I drove at a snail's pace over slippery, snow-covered Interstate 81. Where were the plows?
When I arrived at work, I found a week's worth of papers on my desk. I had not read the paper or looked at nvdaily.com in a week, so in between going over email and putting Thursday's Opinion page together, I browsed through our local stories to see what I had missed.
I had heard about the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut before we had left for Ireland, but not the details of the fallout that had occurred locally -- the incidents at two Strasburg schools -- and on the state and national levels in regards to gun control discussions and the possibility of arming school personnel.
My brief escape was wonderful, but the landing back into reality was a rough one this time.