Tuesday, 7 April 2009

All seriousness aside, if this is Spring Fever, I don’t want to be cured!


Thanks to Allan Cavanagh of Caricatures Ireland at www.caricatures-ireland.com/

It’s 06:56 am, and I have been wide awake for half an hour, my head tumbling with all manner of pointless nonsensicals. 

Why? Because bright sunshine is bursting through my bedroom curtains and being a nerdy old prat from wayback, I know that Ireland is in one of those high pressure systems that tend to settle here in Spring and Autumn. 

As long as that breeze brushing the tall trees outside my window keeps coming from an easterly direction, we’ve got a couple of days of dry sunny weather, safe as houses. 

Yippee! It’s Spring! A mammal who loves his seasons, I leap out of bed eager to leave the cave. 

The fresh-squeezed juice of a lemon sees me out of the door and into Shiny Car. Ain’t got no money, but there’s a tank of fuel below me and a bright beautiful blue sky above. 

That’s all I need. 

In days gone by all I’d need was my thumb, but it’s good to be in Shiny as we sweep through a pre-rush hour Galway City, straight through town and out the other side before most school kids have forced opened an unwilling eye. 

The early morning mist has lifted from the fields either side of the N17, and the stone walls and green grass bring Sham tunes into my head. 

Having been way too healthy earlier on, I stop and snarf a sausage and bacon roll before turning off the main road. 

Slowing the car I now have time to spot the unbelievably white lamblets, gambolling in rolling lush pasture, and suckling calves lingering in old farmyards. 

Miles from anywhere, yet in the middle of wonder, that old hitcher inside of me demands I stop and get out of the car. The trouble with driving is that you become so intent on arrival you forget to stop, look and listen to the silence of the country. 

So now I’m standing in the warmth of the early morning sun, smelling the sweet dampness lifting from the long grasses, simply taking the time to appreciate the wonderful, almost intimidating power of Spring. 

Under the ground and all around, burgeoning and inexorable pumps nature’s desire to bloom, breed, blossom and billow. 

And yes, we are a part of that. Despite our arrogance, ignorance and notions of grandeur, we are part of it all. It’s so easy to become blinded by bills and banks and being broke, but here, now, this is mine, yours, free and everlasting. 

We are indeed fools if we think we’re above loving the country, unappreciative of how it nurtures us. 

A short drive through the back ways and bohreens brings me into the tiny car park by my favourite beach, near my old home in North Mayo. 

Not a soul in sight; golden beach as far as my legs will take me, and a tide that just turned, leaving damp hard sand for my feet to speed upon. 

Man, I am buzzing like a crazy happy beast. 

Aaahhve got the Spring Fever and ahh don’t want no cure! 

Isolated and ecstatic, normally I’d find myself a warm comfy rock and sit upon it for several hours, contemplating the ocean, my backside and all physical and philosophical points betwixt the two, but today that’s not going to happen. 

The strong south-easterly breeze is whipping up the sand into whispy twisty snaky strands, making it a little uncomfortable to linger.

But anyway, I am not on a mission of pure self-indulgence, having long-wanted to thank my friend who lives around the corner from this beach for the massive favour she did for me. 

Her text says she’ll be home at 11. At 11:20 I go up there, but she’s not home. 

Back to the beach! ‘How bad?’ thinks I, and by noon I am drinking tea in my friend's farmhouse kitchen. 

Another good friend, a man for whom I have the greatest of time, has texted to tell me he’ll be at his place by 2, so having had a good old goss and two slices of homemade fruit cake, I head off inland a few miles to find my other friend is also late. 

Well, no. 

Nobody’s been late, just running to the speed of a sunny day deep in the Irish countryside, while I’m still on Galway City time, where 11 means, well, 11:10-ish. 

I’m so happy to sit and wait and do nothing for a sunny hour or so in the country, and my friend's dog Boogie is overjoyed to have me around. 

We go for a wee walk, exploirfy an old house and investimagate a big muddy puddle together. 

A few years back things were far from happy in this friend's home, and during that time Boogie and myself became firm friends, so now he’s all over me like a licking loving rash. 

Mind you, he’s a soft git anyway, and would probably lick and love the Devil himself, were Beelzebub to take his hols in North Mayo. 

Yes, Charlie. 

Just stop. 

Slow down, sit down and play with Boogie. The greatest gift that money cannot buy: a free sunny West of Ireland Spring afternoon in the middle of nowhere. 

Eventually my mate turns up, and we talk, and laugh and drink and visit the village and have a little talk and laugh and drink. 

Then we return to his place, feed the children and put them to bed, have a little drink, laugh and talk until his wife turns up, when we sit, talk, laugh and drink some more. 

A perfect little road trip, costing next to nothing and filling every vacant hole in my soul. As the heat from the coal and wood roasting in their huge fireplace rises, the standards of conversation tumbles. 

By the time all those little drinkies have combined as one, my friend's’ wife and I are mercilessly mocking himself, with all his wandering tangential amorphous ramblings. 

He raises his hands to protest: 

“Now now now!” he bellows defensively, eager to plead his case. “All seriousness aside -” says he, blissfully unaware of the wee verbal slip that has caused us, his audience, to both fall physically from our chairs in inebriated mirth. 

But now thinking back, my friend has the last laugh, as some wisdom lurks in his inadvertent and hysterical error: 

All seriousness aside? 

Isn’t that the best medicine in the world?

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