Tuesday 23 January 2018

Scratchy sounds of changing seasons

Lay of the land

The sun may still be shining, but all the signs are there that autumn has arrived
The sun may still be shining, but all the signs are there that autumn has arrived

Fiona O'Connell

The sun may still be shining, but all the signs are there that autumn has arrived. For one thing, the robins are back. Doing a disappearing act apparently isn't de rigueur for redbreasts, but a local tells me that both the young and males make themselves scarce over summer.

It certainly cheered me up to see them again. But I'm not looking forward to the day when those over-seasonal soarers, the swallows, vamoose. Though I wouldn't be overwhelmed by woe if certain other minute wildlife were to literally high-tail it.

Less endearing evidence that summer has slipped away started yesterday, when I was rudely wakened by scratchy sounds in my bedroom walls. Meaning the three blind mice - along with the rest of their mischievous crew - are back. This irritating indicator that temperatures are dropping caused my temper to simultaneously rise, thanks to them disturbing my sleep.

The long-tailed minxes may have ruined any chance of a lie-in for me but I hope Siobhan Lawler managed to get her long-overdue and much-anticipated one. This gorgeous grafter runs 'Glasrai & Goodies' in the neighbouring village of Gowran and has been working a seven-day week for several seasons now. Siobhan and her Dublin-born husband Derek wanted to raise their family back in the beautiful surrounds where she grew up. So they put their noses to the grindstone, turning their pint-size premises into a treasure trove of treats, where those in the know around this county go.

That's the price most independent traders have to pay, for you especially cannot afford to be idle if you want to enjoy a country idyll. But Siobhan has decided to allow herself the almighty decadence of a day off - at least until the Christmas season starts.

"I'm very excited," she told me, when I dropped by last week. She planned to stay in bed all morning. "Unless there's a heatwave," she added.

Not much chance of that, with barely an inkling of an Indian summer for this paleface populace. Though we did have an 'African April', while some years the temperatures could fry you in February.

But much as I grow weary of relentless grey skies, I can't stand intense heat. Neither can Esther Mullen, who got roped into going to Majorca some years ago. She spent most of her time indoors, aghast at the sight of so many babies without hats on their heads.

It looks like her grandson, Nicholas, is a chip off the old iceberg-loving block. He was so resistant to holidaying in warmer climes last year that he reprogrammed his mother's GPS for Iceland instead of the airport.

Maybe she got the message, for this summer the family went camping around this country. Nicholas especially wanted to visit Connemara, The Hill of Tara, and the site of The Battle of the Boyne.

Sounds like he's shaping up to be a man for all seasons.

Sunday Independent

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