I really need new curtains.
My bedroom window faces the rising sun, and on mornings like this – you know, the kind of morning everyone all over Ireland prays for, religiously – the sky brightens up around 4:30 a.m. Sometimes earlier.
Oh, the official sunrise from Met Eireann wasn’t until 5:35 a.m. But today, there were clouds in the sky. Big, puffy, white clouds, screaming to the sun “me, me! Blast ME with the light!” and so the sun did. It's rays reflected off the white clouds like the sun off of freshly painted white wall, shining right into my window. I woke up at 4:45. It was daylight. I was not thrilled.
What the heck, I thought, I might as well get up.
I look out the window, down at Lough Currane. If the lake looks dark, it’s calm and the dark green hill is reflected on the surface, so I can tell by it’s light grey color the morning isn’t calm. I open the window, lean out, and feel a slight breeze – but certainly not the winds we’ve been feeling the past two days during Storm Ellen’s yellow wind warning!
What the heck, I thought. I might as well go outside.
So I did.
I walked down to the sea, passing through the village where all the storefronts were dark. It’s such an odd feeling to have daylight, but nothing open. It’s not even 7:00 a.m. yet!
I can smell Ballinskelligs Bay before I get there. The wind is cool, but not cold; it has a stronger whiff of the sea than I usually notice at this point in my walk. I walk to the promenade and look down at the water – a pale blue-green color not often seen on this bay. There is seaweed along the shore – lots and lots of seaweed. The beach is covered in it! THIS is what I smell. Fresh seaweed has been blown in from the two days of Storm Ellen, and uncharacteristically covers the sand. It smells wonderful, just like the ocean in Maryland I played near as a kid. Salt and iodine and a bit of fish…. I know from experience, if this doesn’t wash back into the sea with the tide over the next few days, it won’t smell so nice! Over time the seaweed rots, and smells – less like the sea and more like my trash when it’s time to put it out of the house!
Ballinskelligs Bay view, May 24, 2020, 6:30 a.m.Ballinskelligs Bay view, May 24, 2020, 6:30 a.m.
The sky is blue with more clouds. I can tell it’s going to be a great morning. As I walk the promenade (the tide is in and seaweed too slippery for a beach walk at the moment) I see trash. There’s lots of trash washed up with the seaweed. The world of plastic. After my walk, I pop back home to grab a few bags, and go back to the beach to pick up some trash. I’m no do-gooder; I try to pick up my “3 pieces of plastic” each time, but nothing like Peter here in the village does. He picks up trash for hours some days. Heavy stuff! Today I find water bottles (there’s always water bottles); butter tubs (WHY do people get butter in tubs??); fishing paraphernalia ( there’s a fish farm around Derrynane, about 12 miles away); Styrofoam, plastic buckets, plastic gloves (I fear we’ll see more and more of those), lots and lots of pieces of fishing net…..and dead birds. Two large gannets (their heads almost as large as my shoe) are battered and lifeless on the beach. Those winds must have been terrible. I hate seeing dead wildlife.
Washed up after the storm; Waterville beach. Washed up after the storm; Waterville beach.
I chat with a few walkers on the promenade – socially distanced, of course. Pet a few dogs. Give directions to some tourists (yes, tourists: So much for a 5 kilometer travel restriction), and head home for coffee and scones. It’s nice enough to sit out on the deck for my coffee. Life is good in Waterville, today!
Later, it’s still stunning, so head out for a short cycle. Waterville has wonderful cycles, from easy jaunts to the Golf Course beach and back (about 3 miles) to a longer loop around Beenbane (7 miles or so) with views of the lake, to all day cycles up over the mountains to Sneem and back (which we can’t do right now, due to travel restrictions. It’s a very challenging, hilly cycle – and it has stunning views of the mountains. Today my tour is a wimpy 7 miles. It takes me a loooong time. I have this problem with stopping OFTEN and taking photos, the day is so perfect! Photos of the sea, the lake views, the yellow irises blooming around the boggy fields.
We saw lots of people enjoying this day: out walking around the back roads; enjoying the sun in their gardens; walking along the promenade by the sea. It was sad, really. On a sunny, glorious Sunday in May, this village should be packed with visitors ad tourists, swimming, sunning, enjoying a pint in the sun or a glass of wine with a view. We’ve got nothing open but a few take-aways that offer fantastic food on weekends. THIS is what Covid-19 has done to Waterville (and every tourist village in the country). Made it a ghost town on a sunny day.
Stay safe; stay home.
Susan Baughman, Today in Ireland