Every day I walk up the steep path along the edge of the harbour and climb to the top of the headland overlooking Dingle Bay. The grassy banks and cliff edges are covered with rounded mounds of thrift or sea pinks, defying the wind and salt spray and clinging to the most inhospitable stony ledges. They’re my favourite flowers, so tough but so pretty, decorating the coast in spring and early summer when the light, warmth and colour come back after the dark winter.
May is my birthday month. As a child on the island of Tresco I was filled with anticipation and knew my birthday was near when I saw bluebells and heard the cuckoos. There are bluebells here in Kerry too, but sadly no cuckoos, and it’s the sea pinks coming into bloom that herald my favourite time of year.
I’m sitting on the rock in the foreground as I write this. Most evenings I sit here for a few minutes of calm before walking back down the path. It’s a special feeling to be perched high above the wide expanse of sea with gulls and gannets soaring below. It really is a birds’ eye view.
Across the water you can see from Carrauntoohil, the highest mountain in Ireland, all the way along the Iveragh peninsula to Valentia Island and the Skelligs. The sea is calm today and there are fishing boats passing below, and I’ve just watched a pod of a dozen or so dolphins swimming past, their fins rising and dipping.
Time to leave the rock I’ve adopted as my outdoor office, and walk back down the grassy path, past the bank of sea pinks in every shade from white to deep lilac pink. I must remember to bring my embroidery thread shade card and compare the colours.
At this time of year I constantly feel the need to be out here in the sun and wind among the flowers, charging my batteries up with as much light and beauty as I can. I find the Irish winter difficult when light levels are low and the landscape can be very bleak, but I can keep stitching the summer colours and birds and sea pinks into my embroideries, to remind me that it’s just the turning of the seasons and it will soon be sea pinks time again.