14 August 2014

Ending and Beginning

Summer is definitely ending here. It's not quite fall yet, but you can tell it's coming. I am struck lately by how much August in Ballinrobe reminds me of August in Fairbanks, Alaska. There's that same nip in the morning air and looking at how the plants are changing the landscape and changing in the landscape reminds me a great deal of my 9 years in Fairbanks. I am delighted. Ever since we left Alaska 10 years ago, I have missed it most during August, September, and October. I liked the transition from summer to autumn that took place during those months. When August began, it was the tail end of summer. The fireweed was blooming near the top and white puffy seed balls would blow around in the air. By September, there was definitely a nip in the air and we could expect one day with brilliant blue skies that served as a background to golden yellow birch and aspen leaves. Look down and the forest floor was a bright red. There would have been a frost. We'd go out and pick low bush cranberries (lingonberries). By October, we were waiting for snow and by Halloween, winter was upon us with temperatures well below zero.

I do not expect the similarities between here and Alaska to hold much beyond August. It will not get very cold here and may well not feel like a real winter at all. That's OK. It will be cool enough. What makes me so happy about this August is the same thing that I missed so much when I left Alaska--this season in-between. It was a surprise to me, this similarity to what I have missed so much, but it's been a very happy one. In the places I have lived since we left Alaska, hot weather would just go on and on and on. I would grumble my way through October with the windows open, wondering when it would feel like fall. I would tell Bill that my body was still on Alaska Seasonal Time. Now I can be on Ireland Seasonal Time :-) It's still too hot when the sun beats down, but we have both felt chilly when we go out walking and the sun was behind the clouds. Mornings are nippy. The plants are starting to look a bit ragged in some cases, but in others, they are simply different. I have started to notice and appreciate the structure of plants that are no longer flowering in the same way I have always liked looking at trees without their leaves. They are quite beautiful in their own way.
The river level is low these days. There's a good deal of vegetation in and alongside the river.

The reflections are lovely.

There are new kinds of wildflowers blooming that were not around earlier in the year.
When the sun comes out, the sheep like to rest near the cool stone walls.
The sun sparkles off the dewdrops on the plants.
Walls bear traces of past plants, which reflect their own kind of beauty.
The sun and the rapidly moving clouds create an amazing and ever-changing sky and color-intensifying light.
So as the fireweed blooms and we say good-bye to summer, I find myself glad to be in a place where summer isn't endless and is, in fact, quite manageable. If we must have summer, this past one was OK.
I feel quite content in this in-between season. As always, I am curious to observe how the seasons keep changing and how this little patch of nature responds. I like it here.


  1. Lovely photos! I am going to have a good time, looking at your different blogs, which I plan to do in the next few days whenever I have a spare moment.

    1. Hi Kate,
      Thanks for looking at our blog! Hope you enjoy clicking around :-)

  2. Hi, love your blog. Hope you can explain more about your health insurance. Is it American or private insurance from Ireland? I have health issues so that is a concern for us. Thanks.

    1. Hi!
      We had no health insurance when we lived in the US and have none here. Since Bill got Irish citizenship, he's done the paperwork for a medical card and that is still being processed. There is private insurance here. The health care system is not as good as it is in other European countries and it is different from the US as well. GP visits here are much cheaper than in the US. You might need to get a referral from a GP to a "consultant," but of course, that would depend on your specific medical needs! As in the US, medical care is a huge issue here and a big problem since the system is in need of an overhaul!

    2. Thank you so much for answering my question. I adore this blog. Keep writing!