The Woman from Wexford

by ericavanhorn

24 August Wednesday

Today a new runway opened at Dublin Airport. The work was completed both on budget and on time—which no one expected —so they had only one flight scheduled for the whole day: the 12 noon RyanAir flight from Dublin to Eindhoven. There was nothing prepared to celebrate the new runway. The last time the airport attempted to give an event some special attention, they did so by accompanying an incoming flight from Manchester with fire engines racing alongside the plane, sirens and lights flashing. The passengers on the flight had no warning. They were terrified. They assumed that their plane was on fire. Since today’s first flight was outgoing there was not much for the radio to report. They could not interview the first passengers to arrive on the runway. Instead an announcer talked to some of the Plane Spotters who were gathered near the perimeter fence. There were at least 100 people filming, recording and documenting the inaugural flight. The interviewer gave the Plane Spotters a good long stretch of comments and reactions because there was nothing else to report. They had quite a few complaints about the new viewing area, because there was too much traffic on the road. They felt they would have been better accommodated on the other side of the runway.

25 August

Everyone planted sunflower seeds this year. The seeds were sold by the Irish Red Cross as a way to raise funds and to demonstrate solidarity with Ukraine. I was late getting my seeds started.  I planted them in three different locations, some in pots and in two different places directly into beds. Those in the pots are way ahead of those in the ground.



26 August Friday

I received an appointment for a mammogram. Today was the day. The Breast Check Unit moves around the country. It is a mobile department. Usually it is parked on the grounds of the hospital in Clonmel. This year it was in Cahir. Everything inside is built-in so that nothing will move when the unit is attached to a lorry and driven to a new location. Everything is basic and efficient. A desk and a narrow bench are directly inside the door. When a person enters, she gives her name to the woman at the desk. When a woman leaves the unit the next person is called to go from the waiting bench into one of two small cubicles with a curtain and a moulded plastic seat attached to the wall. We are told to remove our tops and our bras and to sit wearing our jacket or a loose top while waiting in the booth. There is very little room in the booth. My knees were right up against the wall and my face was nestled into my own shirt hanging on the single hook. I had my book to read but even so, I could not help overhearing the names of the other women as they were called, or greeted when they entered or exited the unit. In the short time I was there, three women named Geraldine were called, one woman named Mary and me. I thought this extraordinary. I mentioned this plethora of Geraldines to the woman on the X-ray machine. She made no comment.

28 August Sunday

The blade snapped off the Opinel this morning. It has been a favorite knife in our kitchen for years. It has never lost its sharpness. The wood inside the handle simply rotted away.

30 August Tuesday

Tommie was sitting in his narrow red chair. He told me that he had bad news. He had gone to his doctor for the required eye test to renew his driving license. The doctor said that she did not feel she could give him permission to continue driving a motor car. She suggested that if he wanted to challenge her decision he was welcome to pay for an inspector to come and give him a driving test. Tommie is of the generation who have never taken a driving test. He began by driving tractors as a young boy and then he moved on to cars. When the State decreed that a driving test and a driving license become a legal requirement, he and most of his generation were just given licenses. It was an amnesty of sorts. It was also a way to save on a huge backlog. There were hundreds of people who had always been driving and it seemed unfair to make them all take tests especially as so many of them would fail and then they would be stranded. So at the age of 88 or 91 or whatever age he now is, Tommie was given his first ever driving test. A woman came up from County Wexford. He had to pay her 300 euro for her time before they even got into the car. It was a lot of money but he felt that having the freedom to drive out in his own car was important. He said she was a big lady and she filled up the whole front of his car partly with her body and partly with her air of authority. He explained to her that he no longer drives into town nor on any busy roads. He also told her that he had a new clutch in his car. She instructed him to drive her out on those roads that were familiar to him. He drove her up the narrow mountain road as far as the Waterford border and then she asked him to turn around when there was a chance. He did just that. He did not notice the huge white truck bearing down on him. He told me that it was very unlucky to see any thing at all on that road. He told me that and he said he told that to the woman from Wexford. 1 time out of 100 he reckoned. It was a very unlucky event. The truck did not hit him and he drove back down the winding mountain road. He then drove out on the Goatenbridge road and stopped when some silage machinery was coming out of a side road. The woman from Wexford told him that he had the right of way and that he should not have stopped. He told her that he was trying to be nice. When they got back to Tommie’s, the woman walked into the house with him. She sat in the big chair and he sat in the narrow red chair and she spelled out his errors to him again. She told him that he had failed to use his mirrors even once. She stood up and said, “You are Off the Road. Forever. As. Of. Now.” And she walked out. She did not say goodbye. He is crestfallen. He says that he feels Marooned.

31 August Wednesday

As I walk out there is always a lot to look at: clouds, trees, fields, cows, moss, lichen, berries, blossoms, birds.  But when I come across something to read I perk up, even if it is just a few letters and no complete words. I like finding language in the landscape.

1 September Thursday

The gate at the farm was closed.  My passage was blocked. Cows were crossing slowly, one every few minutes. I had to get out of the car to shout and ask Joe to open the gates to let me through. He explained that he was scanning the cows individually to see if they were pregnant. He said most of them are pregnant and a few of them are not. He told me that the heat and the lack of grass make things more difficult for the embryo. It is not just the silage, and the haying and the grazing that are affected by these many weeks of hot rain-less weather. Fertility is a problem too. He explained that even if a few of his two hundred and fifty cows do not give birth there will be a few who will produce two calves. He feels both hopeful and certain that he will end up with 250 calves.

3 September Saturday

The kitchen door is a stable door. In fine weather the top half of the door is held open with an old dog lead attached to a coat hook. The traditional reason for a half door was to keep chickens out in the yard and not allow them, nor any other creatures running low to the ground, into the house. That is why I was surprised to enter the kitchen and to see The Black Cat rushing around the corner into the big room. How had she gotten into the house? I opened the bottom half of the door before I shooed her out. This is the third or fourth time we have found her indoors. It appears that she must be jumping in over the door. It is a huge distance to jump up and over, and then it is a long way down. I have various theories. Maybe she jumps from the outside table which is off to the left side of the door and then on to the top of the door. The top edge of the bottom of the door is narrow. It cannot provide an easy landing. It is akin to landing on a tightrope. I think it would be easier to miss it than to land safely. Maybe the outdoor table is the launch pad and the leap is sideways across the door and then a long drop to the stone floor. I would like to catch the Black Cat in action as she gets over the door. It needs to be soon. Once the weather changes, the top half of the door remains closed during the day.

5 September Monday

There is non-stop talk about the energy crisis. The energy crisis and climate change. The rising cost of everything and the onset of cold weather seem to be the only topics. The radio. The newspapers. The discussion around parked cars. The four prizes for the raffle tickets being sold in the shop are all for fuel: heating oil, two different sized trailer loads of firewood and two bags of coal. The days of cars, television sets and hairdryers as prizes seem to be over.

6 September Tuesday

We had been promised rain for several days. And we have indeed had rain in small amounts off and on since Friday night.  Yesterday we had torrential downpours and wild thrashing winds.  There are leaves and branches strewn everywhere. One pair of sunflowers in bloom were beaten to the ground. Apples are falling off the trees. I went out to collect some and I got soaked from the rain and the wet leaves and the drenched long grass, but I came in with a bucket full of apples that had been knocked to the ground by the winds. Today the rain has set in as hard steady all day rain. No matter how much we get it will take a long time for it to be enough. The soil is gulping it down. The land has been parched for too long. It will take many days of rain to make a difference.