Weather perspective shifts radically in the west of Ireland. After three weeks of lashing rain and whipping winds, we're ready to call a morning where the sky is occasionally blue and the sun occasionally shining, with only intermittent flights of lawn furniture across the landscape, a fine day (Ex-pats call it a fine day. Locals call it a beautiful day). Taking advantage of the lovely, not-quite-hurricane conditions, Lucy and I headed to Inch dunes for a walk.
All began well, and I felt that locals sense of smugness about being one of only three people on a gorgeous three-mile beach in November, my little dog happily chasing scent up and down the dunes, exhilarating wind blowing through my hair and her fur. Then the first peal of thunder sounded. Lucy bolted into the dunes. I looked to my right and saw, picturesquely framed between the mountains of the Dingle and Iveragh peninsulas, a huge, dark, blue-gray cloud approaching at speed down Dingle Bay. That's one of the perks of walking at Inch. You can see exactly what weather you're going to get in the next five minutes. I thought it might be a good idea to cut this walk short.
First I had to find my dog. Heading up into the dunes as the next lightning strike flashed, my whistles were lost in the wind. I reached the top, where I could see the unfolding expanse of dunes, but no small dog. Looking back to the beach I saw the few cars parked there start up and head for the exit, headlights on. One walker in a red jacket, about halfway down the beach, turned back as well, but did not run. She was never going to make it but she'd retain her dignity. I continued calling for Lucy as I semi-jogged along the path at the top of the dunes. Lightning flashed; thunder followed. A sense of drama descended.
Suddenly Lucy appeared at my feet, ears flat, tail down. "Good dog! Come on Luce!" I shouted as another tremendous clap of thunder rang out. Lucy shot off again and was gone. I hurried back along the path, shouting "Lucy! Lucy! Lucy!" and eyeing up the approaching storm. The woman in the red jacket maintained an even pace on the beach as the interval between lightning strikes shrank and the dark cloud loomed overhead. I, on the other hand, was an orange-jacketed lunatic on top of the dunes, racing along and shouting.
This time when Lucy reappeared I got her on the lead. For a little thing she sure has torque. My twenty-five pound dog yanked me along the top path then catapulted me down a sand canyon and back to the lower, main path along the bottom of the dunes. I let her off the lead and we both took off for the car, running.
Lucy can outrun me by several factors of speed but, fair play, kept circling back to make sure I was on pace. Near the end she figured I was going to make it and lit out for the car on her own. Just then the hail hit, little icy needles in a gale force wind. "Ouch ouch ouch ouch" I laughed to no one, soaked through in thirty seconds, but thankfully at the last dune. Up and over I went.
And, briefly, up and over I kept going. Briefly, I flew. The wind picked me up as I crested the dune and I was not in control of my own movements. The immediate temptation was to let go. I can fly! For some reason, I thought of Dorothy. And thinking of Dorothy made me remember gravity. In real life, when people go up with no visible means of support, they come down hard. I fought to stay on my feet and did a comical stumble run down the back side of the dune. I saw Lucy dancing impatiently by the car. I opened the hatch and she leaped in to the safety of her crate.
Safe though soaked, I drove the Beetle down a rutted track to the beach exit, meeting the other fleeing cars at the main road. I don't know what happened to the lady in red. Just as I pulled out, another car was pulling in. Sure, why would a little thunder, hail and lightning keep you from your daily walk on the beach? Now that's a local.