|Illustration by Caty Bartholomew.|
Somebody suggested here last week that it would be pleasing if I wrote a few lines about the fall in the west of Ireland in September. I would be delighted to oblige if there was in fact a fall here to report upon. But there is not.
What we have instead on almost all fronts across the glowing west is a second rising of about all boats on all the golden waters. Beautiful to experience and behold.
September is usually a lovely month in the west, but this year it has excelled itself. I am writing this in the cottage garden in an Indian summer heatwave!
It is as warm as it was in the month of July. The Almighty has excelled Himself in 2013 with the creative fashion in which the leaves have been tinted in a million shades of russet and gold and in which they are softly whispering to each other, still living organisms, rather than falling limply and wistfully to Mother Earth.
Let me give ye just one image from many. I am no botanist but I assume you have fuchsia shrubs over there too. There is one in full bloom across the table from me as I write with awe.
Each floret is a lissome and lovely ballerina on her tippitoes in the classic pose. They are clad in bright pink and dancing in unison beneath their emerald leafy canopy. It is a sight to catch your breath in the throat.
Behind them, in the hedge, the briars that were sharp and predatory all summer, ready to rip the hands off you, are glistening with a heavy crop of luscious blueblack multi-segmented blackberries that the children are excitedly picking by the bucket along all the roadsides around here. I hear the children laughing.
No, there is no fall here.
And would you believe that there are still three or four swallows away high overhead? It is true. I imagine they are the lads and lasses, just like myself, that are perennially late for everything.
The flocks of those who go by their eternal clocks departed last week after chattering on the power lines for hours beforehand. One swallow comes low to snatch an insect from the air close to me and, in some surreal fashion, his predatory jaw and beady eye reminds me powerfully of your Senator John McCain. I don’t know why.
On a personal note there is indeed no fall for me this September. The last one, a year ago, I tumbled out of the attic and wrecked my left ankle so dramatically that I finished up in hospital with an infection for 10 days, was lucky not to lose my left foot, and spent much of the winter either in Jimmy White’s spare wheelchair or on a walking aid.
Looking back now, and staying away in future from all ladders and attics, the entire experience was actually stimulating in a strange kind of way.
In recovery in the hospital, pain free, I spent hugely enjoyable hours with other men of my generation who had also tumbled off ladders they should never have mounted at all, and who were ruefully whimsical about our joint situation.
There is much more about the new rising this September. On the national front there are small indications that we have survived the very worst of the economic recession and are maybe not quite inching — but perhaps centimetering — out of our financial quagmire.
There are far less media announcements of job losses and factory closures and more announcements of job gains, especially in the IT zone and fractionally lower unemployment figures.
My colleague John Spain on the other coast in his splendid pieces dissects our realities in a far more realistic and sharp way than I do, but I think even John might now be seeing some glimmers of September sunlight at the very end of the tunnel. Hopefully.
There is really no fall this year. The people are likely to vote with their heads for the abolition of our expensive and politically unnecessary Senate, accordingly saving millions, and, though I never voted for his party I have to admire the way in which Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny has filled the shoes of leadership. He has been almost as surefooted as a Mayo mountain goat and deserves praise for that.
Meanwhile our President Michael D. Higgins, a lovely man all the years I covered his many general election defeats in Galway West, has garnished his term with a mix of both principle, eloquence, grace and compassion.
We are well served now at both leadership levels. There has been no fall.
Again at ground level I have to tell ye about a recent night in my Honk bar on the edge of a (much busier) Shannon Airport. Aoife, one of the daughters of a fine homely house, got married to her Bob, and the “afters” party at the pub the next day showed the resilience and spirit of the plain people of the west.
A pig was roasted on the spit outside, music and song and dance right through the Indian summer evening and night, a rising celebration to warm the cockles of all hearts.
And that is the truth as we are living it, and the golden leaves around my head send autumnal good wishes to you all.
Sometimes, I’ve heard it said by critics, I go over the top in a maudlin kind of way at occasions like this. So be it if it be so.
I make no apologies at all as I conclude this evening’s alphabetication and depart through a rising evening for a pint. Goodbye for now.