Up on our hill above the Cove we are constantly treated to painterly skies. We could fill a whole blog with these changing skyscapes, and now – in late November – we have an extended period of clear cold weather which offers us spectacular sunsets: each day seems to outdo the previous one. On our walks we can’t resist using our cameras to record the wide West Cork skies, although these pictures are barely adequate to recreate the full celestial symphony. We have tried to come up with words to express to ourselves how magnificent these are: somehow the words seem trivial…. Stunning crops up frequently, as do mesmerising, awe-inspiring, exquisite, sublime, unsurpassed. Perhaps it’s best just to let the images speak for themselves: we feel privileged to be living in this incomparable land.
Just as the leaves begin to turn, the gales have come to tear them away and send them flying all over the Bay. Autumn is bringing angry seas with wild white horses, while the trees on our exposed acre are bending sideways. I admire the small birds who manage to find their way to our bird-table in the face of it all: we have just been visited by a whole flock of ravenous Goldfinches who hang on to the wildly swaying feeders in a determined frenzy to fatten themselves up for the coming winter and squabble noisily with any Great-tits, Chaffinches or Robins who try to get in on the act.
In Ballydehob (our local community) it’s time for the annual Thrashing. This event always takes place just before Hallowe’en, a festival which nowadays overlays the old Celtic Samhain (1 November) – when the souls of the departed are remembered. Here it’s a good time to bring in the threshing machine and lay up sacks of grain in the barn. It’s also a reason to hold a fair and show off vintage cars and tractors, to make butter, to watch performing dogs, to gamble on mouse racing – or just to chat over a cup of tea.
We look forward to the turning seasons: what we see from Nead an Iolair changes constantly, is never dull, and can’t be taken for granted. Skies can be steel grey – or still as gloriously blue as they were in the summer; and our sunsets can be even more beautiful.