COLM O'REGAN: The telltale signs that spring has sprung in Ireland

Spring is finally here. I don’t mean the small amount of hot weather last Friday and
Saturday week. That was just an aberration. A wriggle in the curve.

You see, after the long winter, nature had such pent-up energy, when there was any bit of warming at all, things happened quickly. It was like a building project held up by legal wrangles. Nature’s chippies and blocklayers had been playing cards and twiddling thumbs in the prefab and when they got the go ahead, all hell broke loose (It was a piece-work job). Tulips flowered so quickly they fell over, trees pulled muscles trying to get into leaf. There was a distinct lack of planning permission. Nature lost the run of itself.

And so did we. As Ireland grows less homogenous, we sometimes forget just how damn white we are as a whole. Nothing brings out the full glare of our whiteness like early heat. Released blinking into the sun like young calves, we bared our calves.

Office workers rolled up their sleeves to reveal “don’t jug me unbil you know me” tattoos in Hebrew script and frolicked (drank) in the sun. They left their pint glasses and cans near the canal — because it’s not littering if you place it gently and are wearing a suit. People were told “you got a bit of colour today”. And then hundreds of thousands waited for the angry red to turn to tan. It was supposed to because they sent off for that DNA test a while back and it said they were 4% Iraqi. (A DNA test, the details of which will be hacked in future from the company’s database, copied and synthesised and your Auntie Deirdre will end up on the hook for a murder when a crack deal goes wrong in Boise, Idaho.)

No that wasn’t spring. That was a blip. The real spring is the bit that surrounds those blips. Scattered showers, sneaky frosts and days that turn out mild and make a mug of you in your Big Coat. Coming down in the morning with a child WHO HAS NO REASON AT ALL TO WAKE UP THIS EARLY FOR FECK SAKE but feeling less alone because of the stretch in the mornings.

The butter is at its most restauranty: Spreadable but still with a smidge of resistance. Butter is often too hard in the winter and in summer it goes too far. The knife feels wrong when wading through the buttery soup. It might have a bit of a taste. But spring is Goldilocks butter. Every day is like dining out in your own house. You could present bread to yourself with a tongs.

Ould lads are out in the workshop, pottering, potting, hiding, hammering, hitting their thumb, marvelling at the length in the evenings as if it’s never happened before. Farmers are hurtling six-figure machines around the roads, continuing ancient rhythm of planting and minding, as their parents and grandparents did before them. Snapchatting the lads with a Tractorpool Karaoke, hoping to go viral, just like the days of the horse and plough.

In the parks you can hear the shouts of corporate tag rugby teams getting ready for a summer of hamstring tears and suppressed animosity and rumours that a rival team are importing Kiwis. There are boot camps with wretchers on the side cursing the operation
transformation fella with his dimpled knee caps and emphasis on stretches. Fancy-dan hurlers and footballers at Junior B are looking forward to finally expressing themselves after a winter spent in the pocket of a 40 year-old who knows how to ‘break up the flow of a game’.

Amateur weather forecasters are watching nature, noticing the stoats eating hummus and concluding we’ll have a scorching summer because they won’t get any headlines if they predict a perfectly normal one.

Summer might disappoint, autumn will be tinged with regret about the lack of a summer but for now, spring has sprung, and anything is possible.


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