Thursday, August 08, 2013

The mountain

It's never far from our consciousness. It looms over the parish like an overly-protective parent (you saw it in yesterday's video). It makes our weather. It makes our mood.

Mount Eagle stands between us and the Atlantic, defiantly hanging onto its English name even though the English and the eagles are long gone. One last big scrunched-up pile of Old Red Sandstone before the Dingle Peninsula dives beneath the waves.

But the Atlantic will have its way. It comes blowing up against the other side of the mountain and up and over. Sometimes the weather comes gliding down our side like an icy glacier. Sometimes it boils up over the summit like a steaming volcano. Sometimes it makes a hole in the overcast that lets us have the only sunlight on the peninsula. More often it creates a local blanket of mist that darkens and dampens us alone.

The color of the mountain constantly changes. Browns and greens. Purples and yellows. Gray and rose. A patchwork of light and shadow. Some of the locals profess to be able to glance at the color of the mountain and predict the weather, an arcane lore that so far has eluded my grasp.

There was a time not so long ago when each little cluster of cottages at the foot of the mountain had its own switch-back track to the boggy shoulders where turf was cut for the fire. Down the track came the donkeys with thick black peat in their wicker panniers. Now our energy as likely as not comes from Saudi Arabia and the mountain clings to what peat is left, a dark, earthy pigment in its palette of color.