Yesterday evening, at around five o’clock, I took a bench in Stephen’s Green, a park in Dublin’s city centre. In the diminishing evening sunlight, I enjoyed eyeing passersby; a mixture of shoppers and workers journeying home. The sun descended beneath the low-rise buildings, blanketing the world in a warm neon glow. A chill gradually set in. After a long, cold winter, a warm evening acts as a formal reception for the oncoming summer months. From my bench, I relished it. Just as Jetset said in her entry on “Thoughts from the Edge” yesterday, Irish people are funny about the weather. Not only do we Irish talk about the weather incessantly, but at the first sight of sunshine, we remove layers of clothing as a snake sheds layers of skin.
Bad weather generally doesn’t bother me to the extent it does most Irish people. Irish people endlessly complain about the weather. They take the Goldilocks approach; it’s either too cold or too wet, but never just right. My mother is a prime culprit. When it rains, she takes up a position by the window overlooking the field next to our house. From this location the overhanging grey sky and sheets of rain are most visible. She folds her arms in a standoffish manner, frowns heavily and curses the rain as if it were an unreliable best-friend. “We can’t do anything in this feckin’ weather. It’s terrible!” she’d proclaim, her frustration clearly evident. Chances are, if it the weather was dry, her and I would sit on the couch flicking through Sky Digital, complaining about the hundred channels of nothing to watch.
Recently, my overly extroverted friend, Joanne, and I recalled last year’s summer. She longed for the approaching summer months and spoke of it with fondness.
“I can’t wait for the summer” she announced in her contagious, cheery tone. “We can hang out in Stephen’s Green like we used to. Remember how we rate people and their outfits?”
I laughed a little condescendingly. “If that is as exciting as our summer gets, we’ve a few quiet months ahead of us.”
This evening reminded me that we did in fact spend many a summer day and evening hanging out in Stephen’s Green. I recalled one such day in June when Joanne and I lay on a grassy patch, soaking up the sunshine, sprawled among an eclectic mix of people. A homeless man, familiar to Joanne, plonked himself down on the grass and nestled down for a sleep. Joanne volunteered to buy him a coffee, chocolate bar and muffin. Returning from the shop, she approached him. She gave him her charitable donation. The homeless man thanked her and requested that she place the generous offering on the ground next to him. Joanne returned to my side and observed him as he appeared to disregard her donation by returning to his slumber. She complained at his apparent snub towards her offering. I explained that he wasn’t obliged to eat her gift just because he is homeless.
I owe Joanne an apology for dismissing her accurate remembrance of our fondness for Stephen’s Green. She’s right. I can’t wait to reconvene on the Green as soon as the weather permits. I should acknowledge Jetset’s discovery of the gene she has branded “Irishness”. I embrace my Irishness. I, too, can’t wait to cast off my excessive layers of clothing. Deep down, I desire to act out some form of faux-Paganist summer worship by dancing naked in Stephen’s Green. Perhaps, Joanne might join me. Certain parties, such as the police and park wardens, probably won’t be so keen to witness this ritual. On second thoughts, the entire idea could be a little risky. I’ll just commit myself to spending time on the same bench as I did today. The prospects of ogling the scantily clad men playing soccer are all too appealing. A warm dry summer would be most welcome. If not for the sake of my pale, blue-veiny skin, let it be to spare me the incessant moans of my fellow Irish.