Tarmac Cactus

by ericavanhorn

14 September Tuesday

There is a single lilac blossom blooming. This is not right. It is September. It is the wrong time of year for lilac to be in bloom. The blossom is scrawny. It looks indecisive about its very presence, but it is there.

15 September Wednesday

Alice brought me a large and long bright yellow squash.  She asked me if I liked aubergine. She offered it to me as an aubergine. She said she did not eat aubergines and she never had eaten aubergine and neither did her husband nor her sons. She told me several times that they had never eaten an aubergine and nor had she and she swore that she would never try one and anyway she said that she had enough different things to eat. I told her that it was not an aubergine but a big yellow squash but she was not bothered with the correction of the word. Whatever it was, she did not want it. It had been given to her and she was eager to give it away to someone else. She had accepted it because it was offered and because of course she wanted to be polite but she did not want an aubergine in her life. Alice brought it to me because she knew that we had a great many spices on our shelves, which was strange enough and odd in itself, and because of that, she thought we might enjoy something different to eat.

16 September Thursday

The side of the building is painted to announce the sale and servicing of LAWNMOWERS, CHAINSAWS, HEDGE TRIMMERS, and BRUSH CUTTERS. The front of the building has no sign and it offers no clue as to what takes place inside.

17 September Friday

The small fuzzy caterpillars arrive every year at  this time. They move quickly. Wherever I walk on a stretch of road they are rushing to cross. These speedy caterpillars are everywhere. When I see one I call it a Tarmac Cactus, but now I am told that it’s local name is a Hairy Molly.

18 September Saturday

Each week, Ned Lonergan brings his carefully hand turned bowls and boards and platters to sell at the farmer’s market in Cahir. Every bowl is engraved on the bottom with a wood burning tool. He writes his name and the date and the type of wood he has used to make the bowl. Each item is carefully oiled. The chair he brings for himself to sit in is a completely different kind of home-made.

19 September Sunday

I am picking raspberries twice a day. They are plentiful. In the morning I go out to gather a small bowl full quickly, just enough to add to our two portions of cereal. In the morning the leaves are wet. The mornings already feel like autumn and they are heavy with dew.   The leaves are wet so my sleeves get wet.  My sleeves are always soaked after the picking, so every morning I have to make a decision whether to eat my breakfast in my dressing gown with the sopping sleeves, or to go and get dressed for the day before tucking in to my cereal. In late afternoon, I go out again and gather a larger amount of the berries. These I freeze or take to friends, or I set them aside for us to eat in one form or another after supper.  Many people have received a gift of raspberries already. I love to give the gift of raspberries. Now I am beginning to give people a second offering. What I do not like is to make jam. I am happy to eat raspberry jam if someone else makes it. At this time of year, my preferred method is to eat my raspberries freshly mashed onto a piece of toast.    As I am picking, I often wonder about the berries that the birds have pecked at and maybe even eaten half. I never know if it matters and if the there is any problem with sharing bird saliva. I am not sure if birds have saliva. Anyway, there are plenty of raspberries both for me and for the birds and already the hedgerows are full of blackberries ripe for the picking. And the figs. The figs are fine this year. We had one perfect fig. One fig that tasted like we were in a warm and southern country, but there has not been enough heat for most of them to be be fully ripe and sweet like that. I bring them into the house at a certain point to finish ripening over a few days. If I leave them on the bush the birds will attack them and hollow out the fruit from the skin.  Once indoors, they are safe to ripen slowly and then they are delicious cooked into small tarts.

20 September Monday

There are dozens and dozens of little tiny wrens flying around. They come in the house and they get confused and they get stuck in impossible places.


21 September Tuesday

The house has appeared uninhabited for years. The paintwork around the windows is chipped and the curtains inside are droopy and dirty. There is never any activity to be seen in or around the house, or none that can be seen from the pavement. There is no space between the street level window and the door, just the narrowest piece of wood. Today I noticed that a clean and ironed white embroidered cloth has been laid along the inside of the window sill. A framed photograph of a man is on view. It is a photograph of a young man with a black and white cat. Beside the framed photograph there is a stack of five books. There is no name anywhere. There is nothing to say whether the man in the photograph is dead or alive. There is nothing to tell me if that same man is now old or if perhaps he is still as young as he was in the photograph.

I wish I had taken note of the titles of the five books.