Spring stick

by ericavanhorn

27 April Monday

Yesterday I was happily obsessed about spring and all of the white blossom visible in every direction.  I was not too happy with the hard cold of the day, but at least it was sunny.  Today is wretched.  There is wind and rain and grey sky with only small moments of sun.  There has even been hail. The hailstones were the size of bonbons.  This morning the postman told me that it was snowing in Donegal.  Now the lunchtime radio announces snow in Wicklow.  Winter seems to be getting closer.

28 April Tuesday

A text arrived from the library telling me that the two books I requested were ready for collection.  They were on hold for me to get at my convenience. I had not requested any books.  I am no longer surprised by these messages.  When I receive one it means that the librarian herself has decided that I should read a certain book.  Sometimes the book is one of her own books and she just thinks I must read it.  Sometimes it is one to be checked out from the library.  The librarian is a voracious reader and cannot help but share her finds with other readers.  Most of her recommendations are good.  If I read one that I do not like she is always disappointed.  I hate to disappoint her.   I love rushing in to town to get whichever book is her next offering.

29 April Wednesday

I spent a cold hour in the blacksmith’s shed.  The door was open and the concrete floor and all of the piled up metal made the cold feel even colder.  He had been grinding and sanding flat some of the rusty objects from my collection.  We are going to try printing some of them but they were too rough in their found states.  I can draw them when they are rough but to use them as printing blocks demands a better surface. He had the pieces laid out on a piece of wood. As he showed me the sanded pieces, he identified each one by its function.  Several of the pieces were ones I had been certain that I knew the function of.  I was completely wrong about every single one of them.  We also had a conversation about horseshoes and he showed me his collection.  The shed seemed to be in chaos but he was easily able to put his hand on anything he needed.  It was his stuff and he knew where everything was.  I picked up a broken thing with a curved end and he said I could have it.  He said that he and I were probably the only two people in Tipperary who would be interested in it anyway.

30 April Thursday

We drove up the New Line to The Boulders with Breda, Siobhan and Molly.  It was cold but clear and crisp as we walked across the hills.  When we dropped down to the the river,  Simon left us and continued alone down the rough track towards the village.  We walked up and down and around.  We were able to see a long way in every direction. As we returned to the road and the van, an old man in a bright orange vehicle stopped.  It was a tiny little pick-up truck with a very small bed behind a tiny cab.  He called it My Kubota which was the name printed on the side. It had no road registration at all.  It was sort of like a dune buggy truck.  He had a sheep dog in the front seat beside him and a dead lamb in the back.  The back was small enough that the young lamb just about filled it up.  It had not much more space than a wheelbarrow back there.  The man was dressed like old farmers are always dressed.  The old man was dressed the way all of the old farmers used to be dressed.  He was not wearing a fleece nor a T-shirt nor jeans.  He wore a woolen suit jacket over a pull-over sweater with a white checked button down collar.  Nothing was very clean but everything was tidy.  He was wearing his working clothes.  He had been out on the mountains checking his sheep.  He asked a lot of questions because he needed to know who we were and where we lived.  Where we lived would help to explain who we were.  Once he knew that Breda lived next door to Jimmie and Esther, he was pleased.  He explained that the dog in the seat beside him was the brother of Rex.  He himself had given Rex to Jimmie as a pup.  A tractor came along and we all had to move off the road so we did not get much further in the game of questions.

1 May Friday

Walking up the Mass Path is different every day.  New growth is appearing quickly.  Each day there are more things to note.  There are fallen trees and branches which were not down even a few days ago.    Some I can step over and some I must slip underneath.  Some of the big ones which fell in the autumn are easy to walk under without me bending at all and now they are getting covered with vines and leaves.  They are becoming arches. Everything is adjusting itself.  There are violets in places where I have never seen violets before.  Up near Johnnie’s orchard there are branches of an apples tree blocking the path. Their buds are still tightly closed and they are bright pinky red.  I like them best now just before they open.  Because the branches are across my path, I come upon the buds at eye level.  There is no way not to look at them before I duck down low to go underneath them. There are lots of plants in early stages. There are bluebells, ferns and Alpine Milk Vetch as well as bright moss and all of the other things that I cannot or will not name here.  The orchard itself is a solid blanket of wild garlic with thousands of white flowers in blossom.  Each time I walk up the path, I think that it is perhaps time to carry my clippers with me just so that I can clear the path of the things that grab onto me.  Today I found a good stick and beat my way through some of the brambles.  After the ease of moving through winter vegetation, a stick is suddenly once again both useful and necessary.  After I am free of the bushy stuff, I am happy to march the whole way home with my stick.  I beat at the air and I wave it around. I salute the odd passing car or tractor with my stick.  Sometimes I give it to Oscar when we meet but usually I find him another one as I am always reluctant to give up a good stick.