It’s a sad fact that Ireland just isn’t built for sunny weather. Not the houses, not the streets, not the people. It’s not surprising either, seeing as the vast majority of our weather is wet, windy, cold, and often quite miserable. So we huddle in our cold, dark houses all winter while the wind roars around the walls. The rain pounds on the windows, and we long for a bit of sunshine and warmth. We’re jealous of all the people who live in warmer climates and consistently see sun for at least half of the year. We see just enough to keep us begging for a little more. Usually the odd bit of sunshine that does eventually show up is accompanied by yet more rain, drizzle and thunderstorms. Planning anything outdoors is a gamble, as it’s common to get anything upto ‘Four Seasons in one day’. Logistically it becomes impossible to go out and bring the rain gear and wellies, the sun hat and shades, and the various garments required for all the weather in between the extremes.
Then once or twice a year the stars align and we get a ‘heat wave’ for a few days where the sun is out all day and the temperature slowly climbs higher and higher to a level that most foreigners still consider ‘cold’. The sun worshippers depart to the beaches and parks and struggle to fit their blanket in amongst the hordes of people in search of a glowing tan. The sun haters start complaining about the excessive heat, but everyone mostly ignores them in the excitement of having a rare sunny day. There’s a party atmosphere as people roll up sleeves, remove as many layers as possible, and bask in the sun any opportunity they get. On the way to work. On a lunch break. Maybe even sneaking out of work early.
I’m enjoying the sunny days. I wish they showed up more often. But my how they play havoc with animals, babies and toddlers. It’s like the crazy dial gets turned all the way up. My poor over-heated, exhausted toddler took well over an hour to finally struggle to sleep this evening. We sat in his room, me in the big chair, him in my arms and started the daily bedtime routine. The blackout blind is stuck to the window, only slivers of sunshine peeking around the cracks. No bright light to distract from the slumber process. He’s been out playing and having fun all day so he’s tired, more than ready for bed. But it’s hot. Too hot. The baby monitor blinks in surprise as it hits 25 degrees. Normally we’re lucky if we can heat the room to 19 degrees.
Outside lawnmowers are droning. Children are shrieking. Inside I’m cursing silently. I’m holding a restless toddler that is steadily growing sweatier, more slippery, and definitely more annoyed by the minute. It’s like a sauna in the room. “Do you want to lie in your cot?”, I enquire, hopefully. “No!”, is the firm response. He squirms and rubs his head across my chest to emphasise his point. The extra body heat pushes the temperature to a new high of 26 degrees. It’s becoming hard to breathe. Oh for an air conditioner. But we’re not going to purchase one for the sake of the several nights a year that it might actually be used. I’d settle for a fresh cool breeze, but only heat is blowing through the house. And the nursery door is tightly shut to block out light and noise so we’re not even benefitting from that.
Finally, sleep arrives. About time. I suspect the poor wretch has actually passed out from all the heat. He’ll toss and turn and sweat for a few hours until after midnight when things cool a little, and then he’ll be up again, still annoyed at being too warm. For now I’m free. Except for the minor issue of transferring him to his cot. I slowly get up from the chair, avoid the creaking floorboards, and lower him down to the cool sheets. I attempt to gently roll him off my arm and onto his side. But he’s sweat-glued to me now, so I reluctantly shake until he slides and bounces onto his side. I hold my breath. He mutters crossly, stretches on the sheets and decides it’s too ****king hot to wake up again.
I’ll admit, if you asked me whether I hope tomorrow is yet another sunny day… I’m conflicted. Why can’t we have beautiful sunny days every day, but cool, breezy nights so that we can all get our sleep? I’ve loved the trips to the beach, the picnics in the park, the splashing in any form of cool water that could be found. But the bedtimes? I hate the sticky, blanket of heat. Pure torture.