Heatwave Happiness: Trees, Sun and Swan Butts

I meant to write another blog post at the end of last week, but shortly after I had written my last post, all sitting-in-front-of-a-computer-related plans were abruptly postponed due to the arrival of a miraculous, beautiful heatwave that hit Ireland.

I have written about my seasonal mood changes on this site a few times before. In late September – when condensation appears on my windows each morning and the temperature noticeably plunges – my mental health takes a brief but nonetheless significant hit. I have to work harder to maintain an upbeat frame of mind as my reliance on artificial light steadily increases and my sleeping patterns begin to go haywire. I struggle to feel motivated in winter: to drag myself out of my lovely warm bed, to face the cold each morning, and to do what needs to be done in my everyday life.

I deal with winter by searching for the beauty within it and remembering that it is a very necessary phase of the year, without which life as we know it could not flourish. Plants could not renew themselves and bring forth new life without the time of silence, coldness, and damp that the darker months bring. Still, I can’t help regarding winter as something to be endured rather than actively celebrated: to me, it is a time to hunker down, grit my teeth and (quite literally) wait for the storm to pass.

20180419_152324.jpgUp until last week, I had become so accustomed to my ‘hunker down and wait for things to pass’ mentality that the sudden burst of warm air and sunshine we received came as a shock. I was in a stupor of delighted disbelief during the heatwave. I simply couldn’t believe that I was able to dress lightly and still be comfortable, that I was able to sit by the Royal Canal with a friend and savour an orange Calippo (a much-loved treat that I only like to eat during the summer), while laughing over the antics of some nearby swans who kept diving for food and meandering along the canal with their bottoms sticking right into the air.

We loved the fact that the swans’ feet continued to circle around as if they were swimming, even as they drifted along in an upside-down position. They looked absolutely comical.

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“I was in a stupor of delighted disbelief during the heatwave.”

I revelled in the coolness of the coconut-scented SPF30 that I had to apply to my skin for the first time in months. I usually wear an SPF15 foundation on my face, no matter what time of year it is – I know that some level of sun protection is always important – but the big guns (i.e., the tubes of SPF30) don’t usually see the light of day until late May or early June at the earliest.

Today, I want to celebrate the fact that we were graced with this glorious visitation of light and heat, by sharing some of the lovely pictures that I took during this time.

After writing about rag trees on this blog not so long ago, I was amused to see that a few trees in the rose garden of Trinity College had been decorated with ribbons.

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This beautiful tree near Harold’s Cross also caught my eye.

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So, too, did this knitted slogan on a lamppost at the top of O’Connell Street, which promoted a cause that is close to my heart.

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Everywhere I go these days, I am witnessing the rapid unfurling of previously dormant buds, and this fills me with joy.

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Of course, no sunny phase would be complete without a visit to my favourite haunt, the Botanic Gardens.

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Leaves are appearing on the shrubs of the rose garden (which still has yet to see a rose in bloom this year).

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One particular tree in the Gardens delighted me because of the abundance of tiny flowers and long shoots of grass that had sprung up all around it.

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I was enraptured by every last detail.

To me, these purple flowers looked like tiny hidden gems that had been scattered all over the ground.

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There is something deeply nourishing and invigorating about warm weather. During the heatwave, I felt as though a highly motivated, optimistic aspect of my personality was being fully reawakened after lying dormant within me for a long time, struggling to make itself heard. I look forward to the imminent approach of summer. I embrace whatever it has in store.

The heatwave has given me a sense of buoyancy and hope that I have longed for ever since the end of September. I know now that my time of hunkering down and enduring the harsh conditions of winter has finally ended. Of course, we are guaranteed to experience a fair amount of grey, miserable days this summer – this is Ireland, after all, so I can’t lose the run of myself in that respect – but I know that the low and challenging phase of my seasonal mood cycle has run its course. I have been sleeping better since it arrived, and I have also experienced a subtle but significant improvement in my mental health and general outlook on life. Happier days lie ahead!

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