There are times when I know that no matter how much I try I will not be able to describe or do justice to an event I have been lucky enough to witness.
This is one of those times and I am fighting to find the right words to give you just a sense of what I experienced this morning.
However, if you bear with me, I will try to share exactly what happened.
One of the first things I noticed when we moved to Kilcrohane was just what an important part the weather plays in everyday life here. While we have yet to have frost or snow, we did have storm-force winds and some very hard rain over the last few weeks.
This morning all that was just a distant memory as I awoke to blue skies, calm water in Dunmanus Bay and a light breeze. The birds were singing, the sheep stood sunning themselves in the fields and it was turning out to be one of those days when you find yourself in the right place at the right time.
I set off out into this picturesque scene armed with my camera and a mission to scout out good fishing locations for later on in the season.
A short distance from the house is Dooneen Pier and the section of the Sheep’s Head Way called the ‘Fisherman’s path’. This, I decided, would be an excellent place to start my quest for my own piece of angling heaven.
As I made my way along the path, which ran along a cliff’s edge, I could see gannets diving into the sea far below. Always a good sign for any would-be fisherman.
I made my way to the edge of the cliff. Far below, in fact out of sight, I could hear the waves crashing on the rocks. High on the cliff, as close as I could go to the edge, I found a flat rock and sat there taking in the glorious scene before me.
In the distance I could see the mouth of Dunmanus Bay with the Mizen and Sheep’s Head peninsulas facing the Atlantic Ocean like two pillars of a gate leading into a vast turquoise field. Everything was calm; I could feel the warm sun on my face as I sat like a lizard warming myself on my rock. The only sounds were the occasional wave breaking on the jagged rocks, the cry of a lone gull, and the splash of the gannets diving into the deep water far below.
Every now and again there was a sound like a bass drum echoing from depths as the water gushed into one of the many caves at the base of the cliff.
I found my attention drawn back to the mouth of the Bay. As I watched, it looked like someone had switched on a smoke machine. There, just like a slow set at an eighties disco, was a cloud of what looked like white smoke making its way between the two peninsulas.
Now the ‘smoke’ was not making its way along the headlands or spreading out over the land. It was confined to the bay and was steadily making its way toward me like a scene from that horror movie ‘The Fog’.
From my vantage point, I could see the fog moving slowly down the Bay; I could also still see both peninsula heads. The fog bank was about 12 meters (40 feet) high and getting closer all the time. It was like watching grains of sand filling one end of an egg timer.
I also noticed that it was very quiet; very, very quiet. Even the waves seemed to have stopped. The gulls and the gannets were gone. As I looked behind me, wondering if I should leave as well, I saw the sheep, that had been happily munching the grass and enjoying the warm sun when I arrived, were now all heading towards the far end of the field. Some of the sheep were walking but more had decided to run. ‘Time to go’, I thought.
As I stood up to make my way back, the temperature suddenly dropped. High above, I watched as the fog reached the edge of the cliff and seemed to just float there above the now no longer visible water. Then it began to climb up the cliff wall.
I made my way back to the car, chased by this wall of white fog. I began to imagine giving directions to the rescue services trying to find me as I lay freezing to death surrounded by fog. ‘Yeah, I’m over by the big rock, just past the two sheep on the cliff. Don’t go too far left, there’s a bit of a drop there’.
Then, as I made my way out of the gloom, I was confronted by a few donkeys who unlike the sheep were not going to let a bit of fog upset their morning. They looked at me. I looked at them and then the fog arrived and we all headed towards what I hoped was the quickest way to my car. I don’t know where the donkeys were going but they seemed to be heading towards the cliff edge. I didn’t hear any splashes so I can only assume they’re ok.
Back at the car, I watched as the fog bank made its way deeper into Dunmanus Bay towards Durrus. Then, almost as soon as it had arrived, it was gone and there I was, blue sky above me, sun on my face and the sound of the waves on the rocks once more in the distance.
I decided that I didn’t need the rescue services after all. Although it was touch and go there for a while, for both the donkeys and I.