It has been said that we don’t have a climate in Ireland, only weather, as conditions change so quickly from one day to the next. Yes, a day of sunshine will have us dashing to the seaside, dusting off the barbeques to burn a few sausages and stocking up on beer and ice-cream. The threat of a days’ snow will see apocalypse-type stocking of food and supermarket shelves as bare as Santa Claus’s toy factory on the 26th of December.
One swallow may not make a summer but, in Ireland, we often claim that one good day may have made the summer. Today was one such day! We had an afternoon temperature here in Waterford of 17C. Granted, the mercury will creep over the 20C mark regularly enough during the summer but 17C is a very pleasant and very enjoyable temperature – and I made the most of it. Not, of course, that I am the ever-alert opportunist or the born-again “Carpe-diem” man; rather that I am an Irishman and know, from long years of experience that the 17C of today may lead to a breeze tomorrow which would skin a brass monkey. It is pessimism, not opportunism, which lead the Irish to enjoy the pet days – make the most of it, for it might not be as good tomorrow. William Butler Yeats expressed this mindset well: ‘Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy.’ To bear out this point of view, my wife told me at the dinner table that the next few days were going to be “horrendous” – that the thermometer was forecast to go as high as 26C! Irish people either burn or melt when it goes over 20C.
But, enough of literature, for the enjoyment of good days is often more mundane – yet, no less enjoyable. I spent the day in the garden today – three hours before and three hours after lunch – and had a perfectly pleasant day, all light work, nothing too strenuous, but it is such a pleasure to be out and engaged in the garden and in the plants which are putting on that spurt of growth that comes at this time of year.
We went yesterday to Kennedy Park – the name in common usage sticks with me though it is officially JFK Memorial Park. Kennedy Park is about a 30-minute drive from us and we visited very regularly when our children were young. It has that perfect blend of being appealing and interesting to adults and being exciting and fun for children at the same time. It is an arboretum of a very high standing, laid out so very pleasantly, and of great interest to the tree enthusiast and keen gardener and to the child a place to wander safely, to explore the “wilderness” and be enthralled and amazed by the little wonders of nature.
While Mary and I were delighted to see the beautiful spreads of Cyclamen repandum, an uncommon cyclamen, little grown even by enthusiast gardeners, beautiful spreads of bluebells, clumps of primroses and drifts of daffodils, there were no match for the “muddyy puddle” for our grandson. Time stopped; the world was allowed to pass us by and he was enthralled by the simple childhood pleasure of stomping in a puddle and when “Paddy” allowed (encouraged…shhhh!) him to stand into the little stream then Kennedy Park had worked its magic once again and, who knows, the little child may go on to become interested in their trees and in gardening. But who cares! Muddy Puddles are just perfect for now!