Sunday, 16 June 2013

Standing to a Rain-Still

Before the rain - Holly on the go-go
It's a quiet and calm Sunday evening in the Holly Cottage. Quieter and calmer than the usual mellow Sunday as chief noise maker - Holly - has gone to visit her cousins in Cork. She's a bit of a wandering dog and seems to love nothing better than leaping into the back of the jeep or the front of the noisy van to head off out into the unknown. As long as she knows the food has been packed as well of course ;) She's never been beyond the island's limits in her tender three years, but she's probably been in more counties than some proud Irish natives. I guess it comes from her pair of nomadic guardians who seem to be rarely in one place  in any given week apart from those cherished non-driving weekends. 

During - somewhere between
Nawlins and Memphis it rained...
And so I am guardian of the cottage and it's stately 0.25 acres of (now) tamed front garden and flourishing vegetable patch out the back. And somehow, with Holly's departure, the sunshine has faded and I am banished to the indoors as the rain has come and put a stop to all my dry weather plans. Oh well! I can't say I'm that disappointed really, as my knees were starting to rebel against the endless  weeding and transplanting, the thinning of carrots, turnips and beetroot seedlings, the tying of wandering peas and beans and the general tidying and admiring that one tends to do when the sun is browning our Irish necks. 

When the good weather was with us (I won't say when the summer was with us, as there is still a future in this summer of 2013), we were flat out with all those jobs listed above and then there was the sheer joy of seeing the sun that we just had to make the most of every moment. The BBQ was out every evening for all sorts of delicacies marinated by the Holly Cottage head chef (also sorely missed this evening), the lakes were visited, the woods explored and ice-cream finally tasted as it should - think 99 with syrupy raspberry 'stuff' and other treacly green 'stuff' topped with 100s and 1000s and the prime seat of that stunted piece of Flake chocolate - WOW! (I've provided a link for non aficionados of the 99 phenomenon...nom, nom, nom, nom). 

And so, the rain has come to remind us that there is also a time for indoors. And a welcome chance to catch up on all the words that have been rattling about in my head as the sun lulled us into any other activity than that of writing indoors mode ;)

During - handy to have a spare shoe
in case it might rain in Catalonia...
The Irish rain of course is not for the faint hearted or the weak of spirit. It is different than any other kind of rain. Different from the downpours of Barbados and Madagascar that can wash entire roads and hillsides of exposed soil away in a couple of hours; different from the pounding rain in Cuba when even our acclimatised horses had to take shelter in a friendly farmer's shed out in the tobacco fields; different than the warm rain of New Orleans where you could even call it pleasant to stand in a heavy shower for a break from the summer's heat; different from the blocks of ice that fell from a Roman sky in June; but similar enough to the rain in May that fell far from the plains of Spain...just to remind us of home as we splashed our way (in flip-flops) through the streets of Girona. 

The rain in Ireland is different from the rain in all those other far and exotic places around this blue green planet. Different because unlike all those other demonstrations of nature's prowess and force, the Irish rain is soft and steady and certainly lasts longer - think Duracell bunny but multiplied by a factor of 1000. I often wonder how the streams of tourists cope - as they bravely manoeuvre the narrow roads of the Burren in the the soft Atlantic mist or the bogs of Mayo in the horizontal pounding of a July's rainy day. What must it be like to them? Of course there's half the rain in Dublin city so that makes it easier for them and the locals to enjoy a cappuccino on a busy cobbled alleyway off Grafton Street. Even the capital is not without its 800mm of water falling out of the sky in any given year and/or in any given season. But, double and sometimes triple that amount and we have the western shores....and somewhere in between is where we lie - here in the Holly Cottage HQ, and it certainly feels that we are more western than eastern, most of the time. 

But what would we do without it? When would the stories get told, the songs written, the analysis over the late pints attended to? The great literary works written or the great humour and wit unfolded? Or the  chocolate made or the designer fashion crafted? I'm far too easily distracted by the sunshine to bring my pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, and I'm sure I'm not unique on this front. 

So, I welcome the rain for what it is...a chance to slow down and grind to a physical halt. A chance to empty the thoughts onto the pages, and document the time unfolding and rapidly passing before our eyes. And lest we forget the rainbows...
...And after -  Galway painting al fresco
We come to the longest day next weekend, and really - where did the time go since we celebrated the passing of the longest night? Time to slowdown, time to be rained to a standstill after all that running. If it brings a need to play one of your more preferred songs by U2, then you and I are in the same boat - Running to a Standstill has been the theme to the week - the theme to the arresting force of the rainclouds when we were forced to stand in the stilling power of the rain, when we did what we could between the showers, and the welcome reminder that music at anytime - even just the melody playing in your mind - can ease the restless hurry of time. And when you're six and a half moths pregnant and there's less and less time between you and that impending event they gloriously call labour, well - you're certainly happy to slow it down anyway you can...

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