As everyone knows, Ireland is green. It is green because it gets a lot of rain (see all our weather posts for more information about this). The natives have lots of words and phrases for various types of rain — much like Eskimos and skiers have for snow. What isn’t so obvious are some of the side effects of all that wet. There is the normal humidity (100% this morning) and the moss, mold, and fungi that spring up everywhere, as well as the plants that seem to spring up all winter long. But there are other, more hidden effects of the abundance of water:
- Urinals: The last place I worked, NREL, was in the arid climes of Golden, Colorado, USA. They have one of the world’s most energy efficient office buildings. Part of the energy efficiency was derived from the reduction in the use of water. The urinals there were the waterless type. Here at DERI the urinals automatically flush every 5 minutes or so. Nobody thinks a thing about it.
- Water meters: There are no water meters on the house. We can use as much water as we want and nobody cares.
- Skin: My skin, even on my elbows, is not dry, cracked, peeling or otherwise a candidate for some skin cream advertisement. Though there do seem to be advertisements for such creams on the TV.
- Restaurants: Serve water without being asked. (Ed. note: Although not all of them, and precious few include ice cubes. – Cindy)
- The river: It is not “low” and in fact there have been some recent observations that it is rather high and perhaps the locks on the canals should be opened to alleviate some of the pressure on the river.
- Turlough: This is a spot of land that is dry during the summer but a lake during the wet season. Now, in the southwest of the US we have dry lakes that we call playa – though we don’t mean the beach as a Spanish speaker might. This turlough thing seems to stand the dry lake on its head in that it’s wet for most of the year, while the playa is dry.
Recently I had a discussion with several locals about water wars in the western US, and how the shortage of water influences much of the economic development in the desert southwest. One fellow responded that he would not complain about the rain again.
I am certain that this abundance of water affects the Irish perspective in ways I have yet to discover, but, as always, the adventure is ongoing.