West Cork is beautiful even when you can hardly see the landscape for the fog, but when you get a good summer there are few places on the planet that compare. Summer 2018 has certainly proved that. After Ophelia, the snow, and a miserably wet spring, it’s as if the Child of Prague decided to finally grant us all our good weather wishes at once.
After a month-long heatwave, we are all giddy with sunshine, like little kids having a sugar rush. Everyone looks so happy and healthy. Even the most vampiric has a rosy glow. Those who spend anytime outside are sporting golden tans that you can’t get out of a bottle. Call me shallow, but I’m one of those people who think we all look better with a tan. As for me, I am finally reclaiming my ethnicity after many months of being that awful green/grey colour that Mediterranean skin fades to when it’s been in rainy Ireland too long.
A heatwave also does wonders for my disposition. Over thirty days of temperatures in the high 20s coupled with blazing sun, just makes everything seem so much better. Trump, Brexit, the refugee crisis; floods, fires, volcanoes and icebergs can’t dent the spring in my step. I’m high on vitamin D. The world may be going to hell in a handcart, but if so, this summer will be remembered as a blessed time when West Cork basked in its own glory.
For those of us lucky enough to have a well, our gardens have become cornucopias of abundance. The vegetable plot has never looked better. It is over-flowing with chard, kale, salads, courgettes, peas and beans. We usually try to grow pumpkins and are happy if we get one or two to make pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving. This year I may have to get a stall at the market. The pumpkins have spread right across the plot and are now starting to invade the paths.
Gardens, terrace cafes, or just a walk down a boreen is worthy of any holiday brochure. We are spoilt for choice as to which setting we want to enjoy the good weather in, but for me you get the most bang for your buck if you can get out on the water. As if the good weather wasn’t enough, this summer has also seen an incredible amount of activity off our shores, with humpbacks, minke whales, basking sharks are hundreds of dolphins frolicking in the Atlantic.
Every day last month people have posted amazing footage of humpbacks breeching and dolphins flying. We went out ourselves a few weeks ago. Though we didn’t see any humpbacks we were surrounded by hundreds of dolphins jumping and racing, as minke whales popped up between them. The basking sharks were unreal. They are huge and look like a child’s drawing of a nightmare shark, all mouth and giant gills. It was an almost hallucinatory experience. Not to mention the thrill of seeing West Cork’s coast from the water. No wonder Star Wars decided to film in Ireland. When we sailed slowly through the Stags off Lough Hyne, it felt like we were drifting in a VR landscape. It was such an amazing afternoon that we’ve booked to go out again this month. Our coast is a wilderness that should be cherished and protected. We need to ensure that this precious environment is never considered just another commodity to mine for short term gain.
I’ll leave you with a story I heard when I was down in Bantry for the literary festival. As temperatures hit 30C, the beach was crammed with people going in for a swim. Unfortunately, the heat also attracted jellyfish, A friend of mine was contemplating the danger of being stung when she noticed a woman sedately swimming, seemingly oblivious to any danger. Though she seemed perfectly sane, the woman had a kitchen colander on her head. Just as my friend was trying to figure out if this was some sort of protection against sun stroke, the woman slowed, took the colander off her head, dipped it into the water in front of her and flung a jelly fish out to sea! Problem solved. A West Cork solution to a West Cork problem!
Enjoy it while it lasts people!