It stopped blowing a few days ago, but I still hadn’t really relaxed. It doesn’t help that everyone I meet seems to think that another big storm is on the way. Eight major storms in ten weeks has me sick of hearing the wind screeching around the house. We got off easy compared to many people in West Cork. We only lost a few old trees, and we were only without electricity for 24 hours after the last big one, for which I’m truly grateful. So many in the county got badly hit, with days of no power, flooding and fallen trees. I was particularly thankful for the crews that worked so hard to get the power back on. We lose our water pump during a power cut, and living without running water lost its ‘little house on the prairie’ charm years ago. A day or two is romantic. More than that is just a hard, cold slog. Mind you, thanks to my gym membership, at least I can still have a shower.
I haven’t been outside for a few weeks, preferring to look out the window at the debris flying around, but today was a beautiful, sunny, calm day. We cautiously ventured out, squinting at the unaccustomed sunshine, to survey the land. One thing is for sure — we won’t be needing kindling anytime soon. The place is covered in bits of branches, sticks and twigs, along with a dusting of shredded leaves. It looks like a giant green compost bin exploded above the property. We also seem to have acquired a new tree. There it was, straight as a rod, a 40-foot tree in the middle of a clearing. It took us a while to figure out that it was a giant branch that had been ripped off one of the big spruce that line the drive. It had somehow managed to drop vertically and get lodged in overhead branches. We’ll have to get some friends round to help us cut it down.
The sun had real warmth in it. The breeze smelled lovely. The dogs ran around like mad loons, and I felt myself slowly relax. My shoulders dropped. My head lifted. I realised that I’ve been hunched over for weeks, battling gusts and trying to avoid the freezing rain. I looked around and saw a lovely day. The daffodils are lining the drive and filling in the front field. They haven’t bloomed yet, but one more day should do it. The camellia is covered in fat pink flowers and the snowdrops are spectacular. The vegetable garden seems to have weathered the storm, with leeks and chard ready for picking. As I got some leeks for dinner and picked a big bouquet of camellias, I felt the burden of winter lift like a weight that I hadn’t realised I was carrying. My niece and nephew are over for a visit and the sound of children laughing as they climbed a tree just made the picture complete.
After holding my breath for so long, it’s time to exhale. We may still get snow, hail, winds and rain, but Spring is definitely here. Along with the sense of relief, however, is a new sense of purpose. Spring is the quickening. Time to begin. One walk around the property and I was making lists: clearing, chopping, planting, sowing. I love this time of year. The land starts to wake up and it rings some sort of alarm clock in me. I must have been a bear in a former life. In January and February I can barely get myself off the sofa, but in March I feel that engine revving and I know that in another month, I’ll be raring to go. Which is a good thing: there’ll be loads to be doing by then.