The Egg Man Wears a Fedora.

by ericavanhorn



29 May Saturday

There have been no coach loads of tourists for months and months and months. There has not been one tour bus in the car park below Cahir Castle since the pandemic began. The five or six extra long places reserved for parking buses have not been used. Slowly, we have all begun to park in those places when we arrive on a Saturday for the Farmers Market. It is not a big thing. It just means the cars can spread out a little more than they already do. Today it seemed a very good thing to have the use of the bus area because there was not much room to park in the regular car spaces.  A few dozen geese had come up from the river and they were all sitting around on the asphalt. There was little room for cars to park nor even much space to drive around the geese.

1 June Tuesday

Everything has been wet. It has been wet and it has been cold. The weather predictions of the Donegal Postman promised us that April and May would be warm and dry. Instead they were wet and cold. Everyone has been disgusted and disappointed. I have only been able to walk up the Mass Path because I am still wearing long trousers and sturdy long sleeved shirts. The vegetation has grown tall and thick. It is way over my head. The nettles are monstrous. I pretend that I am pleased that it is not too hot to walk up there, even while I am being slapped with wet leaves and branches.

2 June Wednesday

Breda and I met up at The Boulders and we walked for about an hour around and over Barranacullia. One hour was enough for me. It was my first time walking up in the mountains. We did not go high enough to see across and down to the sea on the south coast, but we heard the cuckoo.

3 June Thursday

Going to the hairdresser is usually great fun. Ollie always makes me laugh. He is a man with a giggle resting close under the skin. Today I went to have my hair cut. I had missed the brief slot when the hairdressers and barbers were open before Christmas. They were open and then abruptly more Covid restrictions were imposed and they were shut down again. I missed my chance. This was my first appointment since last September. Ollie was shocked to see how long my hair had grown. I was shocked to see him. He was behind a plexiglass screen when I arrived so there was no mask covering his face. I stared at him and I asked, “What has happened to you, Ollie? You look completely different!”  He said, “Yes–I RAN! I rushed out of the country when there was a gap in the travel restrictions!” He said that he knew the flights to everywhere and anywhere were going to be halted any minute so he flew to Turkey on 5 January and he had his teeth crowned and Done and he had his nose broken and then Done, and he had his forehead botoxed. Done. All in five days. He flew back to Dublin looking as if he had been severely beaten. He said his face was bruised and horrible but he had to go into quarantine at home anyway so it did not matter how gruesome he looked. Now he has his new look and gleaming teeth that I thought for sure were false teeth. He looks like a completely different person. His long hair has been cut very short. Even with his face mask in position over his nose and mouth when I could only see half of his face, he looked like someone else. There was no laughter. I remained in shock for the entire time of my haircut. Ollie informed me that the dental work alone had been worth the flight out. Flying to Turkey to have work on one’s teeth has been going on for ten years or more. It is called Dental Tourism.  He said it would have cost him 33,000 euro in Ireland but it was only 5000 euro in Turkey and he assured me that the quality of the work was better. I really did not care how much it cost, but it seemed essential to him to report these prices to me. There was no talk of new recipes nor of sewing up waterproof capes for his ducks nor of what was growing in his garden. There Was No Laughter. Ollie now has a plan to return to Turkey to have his eye lids pulled up tight. He might have his neck done too.  He will wait for a while to earn the money for all that, and anyway with the current restrictions, it is not possible to fly to Turkey nor to anywhere else right now.

4 June Friday

I walked down through the fields at Molough. I did not recognize the crop but it was growing tall. It was nearly at my waist. There was a lot of rustling and crackling as the wind blew though the plants. It was noisy in a quiet way. Suddenly a young deer leapt across the track from one field right into the next. At the point of crossing she was only a few feet in front of me. I do not know if she knew I was near. Before I could register surprise, three more fawns came rushing out of the tall growth and all four disappeared across the field with high bounding and bouncing movements. Within seconds I could see nothing except an occasional head bobbing up out of the far high growth. It was a Four Fawn Morning but it was over almost before it started.

7 June Monday

We were sitting outside and keeping our distance from one another. It was not warm but it was not raining so we were happy to be out of doors and sharing a cup of tea. I held the jug of milk over his cup. Without words, I was offering to pour milk into his tea for him. I did not want to interrupt what he was saying. Francie interrupted his own stream of conversation and he said, “Yes, but don’t lean on it.” I guessed that this meant that he did not want too much milk. Just a little.

8 June Tuesday

The same man has been delivering eggs to the shop for years. He always wears a knee-length white laboratory coat unbuttoned and flapping open over his trousers and his sweater. He wears this official looking white garment all year round, and on his head he wears a black fedora. He is not a young man. This is not a trendy fedora. It is an all weather hat that might look a bit smart on someone else but the egg man wears it pulled down low.  I have never seen the man without the coat nor without the fedora. In these times of continuing infection, he now wears the coat and the fedora and a face mask. He leans forward and down as he carries his big tray loaded with eggs. His eyes have never been visible.

9 June Wednesday

I walked the track through the fields at Molough again this morning. The crop has grown taller since last week. I was confused to see that some plants had been pulled out and thrown down on the ground in the middle of the track. When I reached the top, I saw the farmer and an elderly man and a young boy and a dog at one of the gates. The old man held onto the gate with one hand and he leaned on a walking stick with the other. The boy sat on the top bar of the gate. The farmer and his dog were inside the gate at the edge of the planted field. I stopped and asked what the crop was and I was told that it was gluten-free oats. I asked why some plants had been pulled up and tossed down on the track. The farmer said that those were the weeds and that they had to come out as they would contaminate the crop. They needed to be pulled out. He pulled up one of each plant and showed me the difference between the two. Once he pointed out the difference, it was easy to see that the plants were not the same. He had already been around the perimeter of one field pulling by hand. He said there were not many of the bad plants so it was not as big a job as it sounded. He had some men coming to help him tomorrow. Together they would comb the fields and it would take them only a day to clear the 100 acres of these occasional intruders. But for today he was on his own. The elderly man was too old to be any help and the boy was too young. The dog was there because the farmer hoped the deer would take his scent and maybe stop trampling this crop of oats.

10 June Thursday

Derek told me that one of the postmen has been seriously unwell and that he had to go into the hospital. No one wants to go into the hospital unless there is absolutely no choice. Everyone is afraid of what they might catch while inside. They might get the Covid or they might get the MRSA. There is no one who wants to take a chance if they have any choice at all. If they are too ill to have a choice, everyone else worries for them. Derek said that this man is an extremely thin fellow. He held his index finger straight up in the air to demonstrate. He said the man was Just Like This. He said he was not a man who could lose any more weight. Everyone at the sorting office in town is concerned.


11 June Friday

The weather has finally warmed up. There are flies everywhere.  They are big, slow and annoying flies.  Doors and windows are open so the flies come inside and they are a nuisance. Women are complaining about the flies invading their kitchens. It is a new topic of conversation. Every counter in every shop has displays of what I call Fly Paper and what everyone else calls Fly Catchers.  It is that horrible sticky twist of paper that if it works will end up with multiple dead insects stuck all over it. Fly Catchers and Fly Swatters. It is the season.

12 June Saturday

The man who sells organic chickens and organic sausages and bacon at the market now has an extra table beside the one that holds his little refrigerator. He uses the second table to sell the big sacks of potatoes and carrots and cabbages that Pat O’Brien used to sell every week. The things on the extra table are not organic. I am not sure if perhaps Pat O’Brien is providing him with these vegetables even though he is no longer at the market himself. I have never known the chicken man’s first name. His chickens are labelled as Butler’s Organic Chickens so if I think of him at all I think of him as Mr. Butler. The woman in front of me pointed to the enormous sacks of spuds and asked him to carry one to her car for her. She said, “So — you are the new Pat!”   Mr. Butler is a quiet soft-spoken man. He responded to the woman’s statement by saying, “I’ve always been a Pat.” So now I know the name of the chicken man.

13 June Sunday

It was at exactly the same spot in the boreen. I turned the corner and there was the fox. It was not the bright red fox that I see out in the field every day. This one was brown. He was bigger and he had a dark almost black tip on his tail. He saw me at the exact moment that I saw him. I was only a few steps away so he sprang up with all four feet off the ground and over the ditch. He was gone in a flash.

14 June Monday

We went down to the village for Margaret Hally’s funeral this morning. She had been living at the residential home in Cappoquin for a few years. The last time I spoke to Tommie he told me that since the care home restrictions had lifted, he was now driving up the mountain to see her once a week. I commented on the Cappoquin road. I remarked that it was bendy and steep and dangerous. I offered that maybe I could drive him up for his next visit to Margaret. He was annoyed that I would suggest such a thing. He said he has known that road all his life. He said he knows every corner and every bump in it. I said that for a change it might be pleasant to look out the window instead of having to pay attention to wandering sheep tumbling down onto the road in front of oncoming motor cars or in front of his own car. He agreed that it would be a treat to look carefully out at things as a passenger. He acknowledged that the wandering sheep are a challenge. Right after we spoke, Tommie was rushed into hospital. He has been there for several weeks. Today they brought him out from town in a special ambulance and in a wheelchair so that he could say his farewells to Margaret. He was hooked up to a small oxygen tank and he had a nurse at his side. We all stood in the bright sunshine on the street outside the church and then in the graveyard feeling sad for Tommie having to say goodbye to his wife of so many years in this diminished state.