It’s officially Spring and not a minute too soon. The signs are all there. The camellia has started to bloom at the bottom of the drive, the daffodils are poking their green heads out of the sodden ground, and the snowdrops are peeking out of the puddles at the base of the trees. I can’t tell you about the rest of the garden. I’ve only been communing with Nature from the comfort of my car as I go up and down the drive. The spinach could be high as an elephant’s eye, the leeks could be towering above them, and we might have a first crop of sprouting broccoli. I wouldn’t know. I haven’t been able to walk the land since before Christmas. Everywhere is wet and muddy. In fact, for the last eight weeks I have rarely been outside. In December we were marooned by the floods caused by storm Desmond (Teresa Mannion is my new hero), storm Eva, and storm Frank. In January, we got walloped by windy Gertrude and her 130km/hr flatulence. Extreme weather is not really an incentive to leave the comfort of the sofa/stove combo and explore the great outdoors. Granted we had a few days of reprieve but it didn’t really help. In between the storms, the soggy land and flooded roads around us where mostly covered in a blanket of fog.
I sat many an afternoon in January looking out the window at a thick white curtain between me and the rest of the world. It felt as if I were living in Narnia. I fully expected to see a winged unicorn fly out of the fog, or a small creature in a pointy hat hobbling down the drive. It felt like I should strap on armour before stepping out the door. It was beautiful in a spooky, magical, mystical way, but again not really motivating to going outside.
Mind you, I wasn’t really going anywhere no matter what the weather. Along with a significant percentage of West Cork (and beyond), I fell into the cold and flu cycle around New Year’s day and coughed my way through the month like a consumptive camel. It felt like everyone I knew had got it, had it, or was getting it. It’s a wonder that anyone showed up for work at all. It went around the house like a fickle suitor, choosing one then the other, before changing his mind again and returning to his first love – me.
I am now as fully restored as I’m going to get without spending a week in the sun, and raring to go. I might even venture out this week and finally assess the storm damage.
There must have been quite a lot, if the branches strewn around the yard are anything to go by. Our year old collie finds large tree branches the best toy ever. She drags them out of the woods and tosses them around the yard. The collie also loves rolling big plastic buckets around the place. Thanks to a stack of them blowing out of the shed, and all over the back field, she has plenty to choose from. I have tried to find suitable replacement toys, but have yet to find anything that can compete with a six foot long branch, or a really big plastic bucket. The result is that parking at the house has become an obstacle course worthy of a television show: a sort of mix of Top Gear and One Man and His Dog; where the dog lays out the obstacle course, and the man has to drive it. It is particularly tricky at night when you are driving out of the place. It takes an intuitive feel for where a giant bit of tree might be lurking, as well as steely footwork to avoid getting a bucket wedged in your wheel rim. The plus side is that I have become really good at strategic reversing, which comes in handy on narrow boreens.
The fields are still soggy, but starting to empty. The roads are almost clear of floods. The days are getting longer, which always gets me making lists of things to do. If only we could have a couple of weeks to dry out properly, I could get started. Unfortunately, as I write, storm Henry is rolling into town. It’s only a status orange, with high winds but no significant rain – not the relentless incessant rain of storm Desmond. Let’s hope it passes quickly and heralds the end of storm season and the beginning of a proper, sunny Spring.