We've had a miserable wet winter here in Ireland. The rainiest December since records began caused floods all around the country. Storm Desmond came at the beginning of December and was followed by Eva Frank Gertrude Henry Imogen. We live in the sunny south-east and Desmond-to-Henry veered left as they approached Europe and made Northern Ireland, Scotland and North England very wet and windy. Imogen took a more Southerly route and she brought down some more branches from our big cypress trees down on the Waterford Coast. These trees had been more or less intact since the DarwinDay storm of 2014. Annoyingly, these recent branches broke off 10m above the lawn but were long enough to reach the ground and so were held by twisted ligaments to the trees. I didn't feel confident to trim away at the wispy part of half a ton of timber while the lumpier bits hung by a thread above me. Wearing a hard hat is only part of the solution if something that big falls on your head. Accordingly, I called up "Rissoles" Hayes the tree-surgeon and got him to promise me a day's work bringing these monsters down safely. Der Tag was set for Monday 15th February when I had very light classes at The Institute.
I spent the previous night with my ancient, recently widowed, father-in-law Pat the Salt. That's become a regular fixture in our lives; pretty much every Sunday now we have a boy's night in. We're allowed to eat a tasty scratch supper made from what I find in, or indeed behind, the fridge: often green vegetables don't feature. I got up in the dark, had tea and toast, did a little light bloggin' then brought Pat his cup of coffee and sat on the side of his bed, watching the green-and-pink dawn creep across the bay and chatting about blackbirds, frost and the day ahead. I hung out some laundry and headed along the coast road to work. It was just gorgeous; crisp with a Winter sun over my shoulder; still icy in the sheltered corners; with the long familiar views of calm sea and receding headlands appearing in succession round each bend in the road. Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive,
Well before I would normally be parking my car in The Institute, we had shattered the quiet morning with the shriek of chain-saws as the working day began. Lumps of tree rained down from above, I trimmed and hauled and stacked: sorting the wood into long dead, green brash and clean logs. On several occasions I was glad of my visored helmet as small branches whipped back at my face with a thwack. The sun shone all day for the first time since October, the work was hard, I'm glad I was there.