Isn’t the stretch in the evenings only wonderful? I often wonder do foreigners understand it when we rave about ‘the stretch’ without fully explaining our northern hemisphere light hang-ups. I’m jealous of those living in the southern hemisphere. They have a better attitude about an outdoors lifestyle on their summer nights, whereas we inevitably end up indoors, watching the telly and bringing two hours’ worth of barbecuing with us!
My response to this flirty spring sunshine is to shake a leg and get out of bed at 7am for what I like to call ‘quietude’. It’s essentially my reaction to stress so I’m embarking on some mindfulness-on-the-move before the morning commute wrecks my buzz. Benjamin Franklin had the right idea when he recommended that “early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise”.
Well this healthy woman (I’m waiting for the midweek Lotto to deliver the wealthy part) increasingly finds an early morning walk works well with an ageing body clock too.
“I really should have been doing this years ago,” I thought, as I belted down towards Rathmines and promised myself a coffee on the way back (I’m like my dog – I respond well to the promise of treats).
You never know who you are going to meet and I’ll admit I was surprised by the numbers of people out and about at 7am. But why am I surprised by this industrious productivity? Any of you who wake up listening to Shay Byrne’s Rising Time on RTE at 5.30am each day will know how busy and gainfully employed some industrious souls are, judging by the text messages Shay receives along with rural weather updates.
“Just making brown bread and it is 10 degrees in the sunny South East,” followed by an equally upbeat and productive: “Hi Shay, on my second load of washing today and it’s so sunny here, I fancy a bit of gardening later today.”
So last Sunday, while half the country got their sleepy heads around the clocks going forward, I was out with my dog, Romy, meeting the first casualities of the clock switcharoo. The coming-home-from-the party girls were in great form as they carried their high heels. Equally upbeat was a guy who flashed by on an electric scooter, his wide smile an indication of how much he was enjoying having the bus lane to himself.
I got an enormous fright when a man suddenly popped up from behind his wall as I passed. There he was, fully dressed and listening to jazz on his phone while pulling weeds. Did he go to bed dreaming of killing off weeds, I wondered? Isn’t it funny how many of us have moved away from using chemicals in the gardens and now, despite stiff backs and creaking knees, we’d prefer to dispatch weeds on their way by hand after a lifetime of buying this, and squirting the other, to fight them.
A mile down the road, I spotted a lady out in her dressing gown and posh slippers snipping daffodils in watery sunshine. “I want them for my breakfast tray,” she shouted out with a big smile when she saw me slowing down to admire her rus in urbe.
I love how, at this hour of the day, people are unashamedly friendly. Is it because we recognise something in each other, a shared interest in knocking the absolute most out of the day?
The community of dog owners out walking – or being tugged along at the end of a lead – are sociable on a nod and wave basis. We nod across to one another the way country drivers lift a hand off the steering wheel to say ‘hi’, but you never see that in the city where drivers just honk at you.
My ‘oh what a beautiful day’ mood was well and truly ruined on my way home when I spotted a well-dressed man stuffing kitchen waste into a bin on the street. I don’t know which of us got the bigger fright.
I glared at him with my best ‘I pay bin charges’ face. But he brazenly kept going. I really should have taken a photo to shame him instead of just taking snaps of other people’s front gardens.
I’ll have my camera phone ready next time. I know your bin. It’s Citizen Power on dawn patrol, accompanied by an ankle-grazing terrier (only joking about the last bit).