Thursday, June 26, 2008

Wet and green

The weather comes down like this, like an iron clamp. First, the top of Mount Eagle is sledged flat by Atlantic mist. Then, wedging the clasach -- the gap between Eagle and Croaghmarhin -- all that thick and heavy air, a chisel of remorseless wet. We wait. The burdening sky gathers, glowers. The first raindrops clatter on the slates like a tinsmith's hammer. Soon we are wrapped, the cottage gripped, held tight in the hard fist of the storm.

And this is what they call summer here in the west of Ireland.

But what could you expect, this thumb of land, the Dingle Peninsula, jabbing out into the eye of the ocean. Warm water from the tropics pumped northward by the spinning planet, encountering cold currents that issue from arctic ice. The perfect recipe for rain, those battering rams of barometric lows. They say that when the biblical Deluge began to subside, Noah steered his ship to the first dry patch of land he saw. It was the summit of Carrantouhill, Ireland's highest mountain, out there just now in the lumbering mist. As the ark drew near to the rain-drenched shore, the passengers spied an Irishman walking there with his dog and stick. "A fine soft day, thanks be to God," says he.