Monday, January 19, 2009

Comedy of Errors

My basic philosophy when it comes to life in Ireland is to always go out, no matter the weather. If you let a little rain stop you, you'd never do anything here. I've played football in a sleety downpour and camogie in several inches of mud and water. We seldom get thunderstorms, so it's almost guaranteed that while you might be uncomfortable, you are going to be safe. I wouldn't go hill walking on a showery day of low visibility, but I wouldn't let that stop me from taking the dogs for a walk.

I've recently grown bored of our regular 2-mile walk up along the ridge near our house. We have to run the gauntlet of a few dogs that don't get along with Toby and it's both physically and mentally exhausting to handle two large dogs under these circumstances.

I've taken to loading the dogs up in the car and driving either to work or to a pull-in along the South Lake Road to have an amble around. Gougane is also an option, although with all the loose sheep, I find that I prefer walking on our picturesque and nearly always sheep-free country roads.

And so it was this Saturday. The weather was grey, but I thought we'd be able to have our walk and be back before it got too bad. It wasn't so much that I was concerned about getting wet, it was more that I was concerned about my car. On Friday, the windshield wipers pretty much stopped working. If I was lucky, they would drag themselves across with just enough velocity to barely wipe the glass clear. It was a calculated risk and I knew if it was too rainy, I could just leave the car in the village and get it when the weather cleared up.

I decided to park at work so we could explore a new road. Well, it was new to us, at least. We set off at a good clip and enjoyed our walk. In fact, we enjoyed it so much that instead of turning around after 30 minutes, we kept walking. And when it started to rain a little, we still kept walking. The dogs didn't mind the rain since they were absorbed in new sights and smells. I was enjoying the exercise. When the rain died down, the wind kicked up, but we still kept walking.

But when the rain came back and it was a piercing sleety sort of rain, like tiny icy daggers all over my face, I realised that perhaps I'd been foolishly ambitious with my plan. So we turned around and started the long walk back to the car. We were at least two and half miles from the car and the wind had turned bitter. The dogs had stopped having fun, both of them hanging their heads in an attempt to keep the sleep out of their eyes. My runners were soaked through as were my sweatpants. My jacket held off the rain a bit longer, but by the time we finally made it to the car I was thoroughly soaked to the bone.

At least, at that point, the rain had stopped. I piled the dogs into the car, wiped off the windshield and pulled out of the driveway. I wasn't even all the way through the village when the heavens opened up. Great big drops of rain slapped the windshield. The car limped through the village and I parked at the school. Decision time. I could leave the car and walk the mile home, which would be uncomfortable but at least we'd be moving. Or we could wait out the weather and then drive home.

The wind at this point was howling, a steady strong stream with periodic gusts that had to be at least 70 mph. The weather did not look like it was going to improve anytime soon and sitting in cold, wet clothes was not looking like a great option. If I'm going to be miserable, I at least want to be moving.

The mile back to my house was easily the most miserable mile I've ever walked and I grew up in a place that had blizzards and bitter cold. The wind was my enemy and I had to walk head-into it for most of the journey. All I could think about was the cup of tea and hot bath that would be my reward when we finally got home.

We ran the last quarter-mile and I think we were all happy to finally get inside out of the rain and wind. I went into the bedroom to change and flipped the light switch on since the storm had made mid-day as dark as dusk. Only nothing happened when I flipped the switch. Or when I flipped the fan switch for our bathroom. I went into the kitchen and sure enough, the Jesus light was off. We'd lost electricity.

Not only did this mean no tea, it also meant no bath, since the pump that moves the water out of the hot water heater (or maybe it's out of the boiler- I don't really know for certain) runs on electricty. And no hot water, of course, means no heat.

With my warm-up plans thwarted, I did the next best thing and had a nap under two thick duvets. It was something of a disappointment, but that'll teach me to check the weather radar before I go tromping out on an extra-long adventurous walk!


At 19 January 2009 at 16:22, Blogger The Finely Tuned Woman said...

You're a hero in my book. I would have stayed put in the car no matter how long it would have taken the storm to pass. You are a very optimistic and brave hiker and the dogs did okay too. It's really a shame that you didn't get that hot shower and that nice cuppa tea. You certainly deserved them. I hope you next hike with the dogs is a dry and sunny one and ends in a warm place with hot water.

At 19 January 2009 at 17:05, Blogger ped crossing said...

Wind is fine, rain is fine. Wind and rain is another matter entirely. I hope you have had a chance to warm up.

At 19 January 2009 at 17:34, Blogger Babaloo said...

You are brave indeed. On Saturday we were in the car all day. We left Donegal before it got bad there and we reached Cork late in the afternoon when the worst was over, I think. We had the really bad rain and storm on the way. Around Galway was the worst, I think. We didn't even get a chance to stop to let the dogs out for a short walk during the 8 hr drive, it was pelting down so badly.

But no electricity would've been the straw that broke my back had I been in your (soaking) shoes. Thankfully ours was on when we came home.

At 19 January 2009 at 19:37, Blogger wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

We got the same storm a little later in the day. Hubby was on the beach with Jake. I find Jake likes to vary his walking destinations. Keeps him on his toes. And he likes all the new smells and dogs. You need a dog-walking wardrobe -- fleece trousers (dry faster), waterproof jacket with lots of pockets and a hood. Wellies or walking boots.

At 20 January 2009 at 11:42, Blogger Fence said...

Was just talking about this with the flatmate last night, how when we were young no electricity was fun and exciting. For a while at least. Now it is simply horrific ;)

At 21 January 2009 at 14:59, OpenID conortje said...

that sounds ghastly - I'm shivering here just reading it!

At 23 January 2009 at 14:39, Blogger -Ann said...

FTW - I'm just stubborn and a little stupid, that's all. :) Also, given the choice between moving and staying still, I will always move.

PC - I'm nicely warm now, thanks.

Babaloo - That's a long time to go without letting the dogs walk. I don't think our dogs could handle that.

WUASTC - Funny enough, I have hiking pants and hiking boots, I'm just really bad about getting dressed for the weather - unless it's extremely obvious what's needed.

Fence - I hadn't thought about it that way, but you're absolutely right!

Conortje -Go make yourself a cup of tea. :)


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