Friday, May 14, 2010

April Showers - in May! Whats up with that?

When people ask me when is the best time to travel to Ireland, I always say “Go in May.”  At this time of the year the weather is pretty good, though in Ireland that is never guaranteed, but at least the rain will be warmer.  The apple blossom will be out, and County Armagh turns pink and frothy with it - beautiful.  In green fields,  hillsides and mountains, the dark yellow gorse flowers spill their sweet, coconut scent into the air.  Bluebells blossom in drifts on woodland floors.  Am I sounding homesick?

Newcastle, Co. Down, Ireland, May 2009
Back in those days this blog wasn't even a twinkle in my eye, so unfortunately, I have no photos of these blooms from home.  Instead, I shall sprinkle this post with a few pictures that I took last Sunday in honor of May's Bloom Day.
Last year, I went home in May for my Mums birthday, another reason why I hate to miss May in Ireland. The weather was awful!  At one stage I was wearing every single item of clothing I had packed and brought with me.  I’m a shameless wussy – Note, I did say Wussy!  
It was also the first time I noticed just how optimistic the Irish are.  As I shivered my way around high street shops, I noticed that the clothes on the racks were more suitable for hot summers and Tropical climates.  Where were the layers of sheep’s wool sweaters to keep these 'poor creathurs' warm in the summer rain? 
As I tried to commiserate with them about the gale force winds and horizontal rain we encountered in May, 2009, the standard reply was, “Sure, a bad spring means a hot summer!”  The rumored heat wave never did strike last year, as it rarely does, but still the Irish live in hope that some summer it will be warm enough to wear their strappy dresses and high heeled sandals (and that’s just the guys!)
I’ve softened to the easy climate of California, and though it’s May, I’m still wearing socks and shoes…In Ireland, I’d have ditched the socks in order to feel that summer was just around the corner.  Chilblains or no chilblains, I’d sport those blue feet with pride and the attitude “I’ll look summery, even if it kills me” (pneumonia most likely)!
This is the only the second time I have ever spent May outside Ireland.  The last time I was in the South Pacific.  It was hard - missing my mum’s birthday, feeling guilty, lying on the white sand beaches, by the Blue Lagoon (from the movie), swimming in bathtub-warm, azure-blue water.  OK - so it wasn’t that hard.  Who am I kidding?
Even with the above average rainfall this month, May is beautiful in California too. Ironically, last weekend, after my husband installed the drip irrigation system in the garden, it rained for two days!  Even in California the weather is out to spite me.  In 2007, back when I still lived in Ireland, we had a lovely sunny day and I, realizing that I didn’t have a sun seat, ordered one to be delivered to my apartment.  From the day it arrived, it rained – I left for California before I ever got a chance to take the plastic wrap off it!
That wasn't the first time I experienced weird rain Karma.  In 2003, I toured the Australian Outback – they’d had years of drought – no rain at all.  We weren’t even allowed to flush the toilets for Number Ones!  I was there a day – and it rained…And Rained…AND RAINED!  At least we were permitted to flush the loo!
After the rain on Sunday, my poor husband, who was trying to finish off a few bits and pieces of the irrigation system (in the rain - go figure!) called me out with the camera to take pictures of the rain drops.  As an Irish person, I've probably never appreciated rain as much as I do now, in California.
 Byddi Lee