The Turning

Posted on: 5th September, 2016

Category: A West Cork Life

Contributor: Tina Pisco

We may have been in tank tops and shorts as the sun split the stones for the last few weeks, but one look at the garden and there’s no denying it. The message is clear: we’ve entered the season I like to call The Turning. The Lymes have been turning since July, but they always jump the gun before the other trees and rush into the next season. Now, as September rolls in, everything is at it; the front field is more russet than green, the Sycamores are going brown, and the Beech are having a last purple hurrah before they turn the drive into a golden wonderland. Sunsets have the melancholy sheen of burnished copper, and light up the sky earlier every evening. In the vegetable patch the bounty is wonderful: lettuces, green beans, courgettes, rhubarb, mange-tout, potatoes, chard, peas and the promise of sweet corn. We had a bit of a surprise this year. I was away in March when the seeds trays were sown. The seedlings that I found when I returned looked like courgettes to me. However, once I had put them out in the garden they started to trail along the ground, so I figured that they must be pumpkins. It turns out that they are gherkins…and that they grow very well in West Cork! In the hedgerows the blackberries are still ripening, though the Rowan and Hawthorn are already bursting with colour. This is it lads. Summer is over and Autumn is coming.

We can’t really complain. Summer 2016 wasn’t half bad, with some really spectacular, sunny, hot days. I almost went swimming…until I actually walked into the ocean! It was definitely an ice bucket challenge – so I applaud the many people who played in the surf all summer. You were delightful to watch, and far braver than I.

A shout out to parents as well. I no longer have school age children and I do not miss this time of year one little bit: the queues, the book covering, the tantrums, the uniforms, and above all, the expense of the Back-to-School rush was a shadow that loomed over the last weeks of summer for decades. I am delighted to see the back of it and extend commiserations for all of you who have just been through it.  Exhale and pat yerselves on the back for a job well done.

September always feels a bit frantic whether you have kids or not. That’s part of The Turning. These are the last weeks to get those DIY jobs done, or you will put them on the back burner until next Spring. It’s time for one last frenzied effort before giving up and getting cosy around the fire. We managed to get the roof and gutters done, but the ensuite shower is still a building site. A combination of visitors, family duties, and tradesmen’s availability has expanded this project from a few weeks to the entire summer. However, hope is in sight. The tiling is almost done. With a bit of luck I could be enjoying my ensuite by next month’s issue of the West Cork People.

All around me the countryside is alive with the sound of strimmers, diggers and hammers as the neighbours try to get jobs done. I’ve been watching with interest as one recently built house put the finishing touches on the frontage with a new entrance. It’s lovely and really pulls the whole property together (much like the Dude’s rug in the Big Lebowski). However, I fear that once the concrete has dried it may be adorned with an ornamental gate. They seem to be popping up all over the country: totally useless ornamental gates. A gate is ‘a hinged barrier to close an opening in a wall, or fence’. In other words, it is defined by its function. There is nothing ornamental about a gate. If it only opens and closes it is useless, not to mention an obstacle to driving up to your own house, unless you get one with a remote. Yet this totally useless feature seems to be very popular. Gates close walls or fences. Walls, fences and gates are built to either keep outsiders (like burglars, or marauding hordes) from getting in, or insiders (like cattle, dogs and small children) from getting out. I often drive past bungalows that have tiny stone ramparts and a fancy big gate. There is absolutely no use for a gate whose hinges are attached to an ornamental two foot wall that any determined toddler, or energetic terrier, could scale. It’s like having a drawbridge over a ditch.  I just don’t get it? I can only assume that people get a kick out of driving up to their gate and using a remote control to open it.

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