I'm from Louisville, KY. As such, I had never given peat much thought; that is until my wife and I had occsion to visit Ireland, where peat is really an important part of life.
This is a true story about my education in, uh, peat.
As I said, m wife and I were in Ireland. We rented a car and toured the island for about 10 days. We’d pass through the countryside where they still have the little country houses with thatched roofs and a short wall around the perimeter. I noticed these black blocks that I simply could not identify, nor could my wife.
Well, we went on some sort of tour of a castle, and I took the occasion to ask the guide about the curious black blocks that seemed to be everywhere.
Incredulously, he said “it’s peat”.
“Peat?” I said. “What’s peat?
“It’s peat!” He exclaimed. “My God, man, don’t ye know what peat is?!"
“No, I’m afraid I don’t” I replied, “could you explain? Where does it come from?”
Becoming more exasperated by the moment, he said “It’s PEAT, it comes from the PEAT BOG where it’s cut out o' the ground!!!”
Then I asked “So, what, exactly do you do with this peat?”
At this point, he seemed to be gasping for air, and replied “YE BURN IT IN THE FIREPLACE! HOW COULD YE POSSIBLY NOT KNOW THAT! WHAT DO YOU BURN IN THE FIREPLACE IN AMERICA?!?!”
I replied “We burn logs, you know, firewood”.
He ended the conversation by saying “WELL, WE BURN PEAT! YE MAY HAVE NOTICED THAT WE HAVE VERY FEW TREES HERE IN IRELAND, BECAUSE THE ENGLISH CUT THEM ALL DOWN! WE BURN PEAT IN IRELAND! DO YOU UNDERSTAND NOW?”
“Thank you very much” I replied, “Yes, that clears it up nicely”