Finishing the walk alone
12 September Friday
Father Sean Nugent died. He was local to the area. He was always spoken of as Father Sean Nugent, never as Father Sean or Father Nugent. I guess using his family name kept him connected to his people in the area. For some of his years as a priest, he was the priest in the village. Or I think he was the priest in the village for a time. Actually, I have no idea how long he was there, but I seem to have gone to a great many funerals where he was officiating. I remember him mostly because he often spoke of a man he was burying as AN INOFFENSIVE MAN. Hearing someone described as Inoffensive always sets me thinking. I cannot decide if it is a fine and complimentary thing to be described as Inoffensive or if it is tantamount to saying that the person in question was actually quite boring. It might be a way of saying that the person in question did not have a great many good qualities so it is best not to say too much. I will not be attending the funeral of Father Sean Nugent. I did not even know the man. But I cannot help but wonder if he himself will be described as An Inoffensive Man at his own funeral.
11 September Thursday
There is still a lot of haying activity. I get mixed up about what is hay and what is straw and how each crop gets collected and stored. Silage is baled up into black plastic. Today I saw a big tractor pulling a device behind it. The device picked up a bale of whatever goes into the silage and the whole thing got wrapped up into black plastic while the bale twirled around on a spindle sort of thing in the middle of the trailer. When the plastic wrapping was completed, two arms from the machine let the bale roll gently off, sort of catching the bale before dropping it on the ground alongside with the others. It caught the bale in bent places of its arms just like elbows. The dropping onto the ground was a gentle rolling off. The stubble which is left in many fields is from straw. I just learned that the cutting of hay does not leave stubble. Some things are collected into big round bales and some are in big rectangular shapes. There are also small flat bales from smaller older machines. I learn these things but I never seem to have complete knowledge of what is keeping everyone so busy in the fields and on the tractors.
10 September Wednesday
The nights are drawing in fast. They are already feeling chilly. I have decided to walk down into the meadow each night the way I used to walk with Em. It has been a long time since she gave up on that walk and just preferred her stroll in the upper grass near to the house before bed. I loved my walk through the meadow with her and now I have decided that I should re-start it sort of as a way to think of her and to have a breath of air at night. Some nights I feel a little bit lonely walking down the path in the dark. Some nights I feel a little bit nervous. It is not really fear. I think it is just the feeling of being alone in the dark with no light except that from a torch whose batteries are weak. Having Em rushing off into the night and barking was never really more than a nominal idea of companionship. It just meant that we neither started nor finished the walk alone.
9 September Tuesday
The house is about to be painted. The old wooden gutters have been taken down. Simon made the gutters himself. The ones on the house were square in shape and the ones on the book barn were vee-shaped. They were made of treated wood and they have lasted well, but this is a wet country. They lasted sixteen years. For the last two years they have been leaking badly in several places. So maybe I should say they lasted fourteen years. The wooden gutters have had their day. They will be replaced with aluminium gutters as used on farm buildings. But first the house must be washed with the power washer and then the painting will begin. After the painting is finished, the new gutters will be put in place. The week promises to be dry so we will not miss them for a few days.
8 September Monday
The man was here to do the yearly clean and re-conditioning of the Rayburn stove. The days are very hot so it is perfect time to have it done. If we wait too long and the days get cold, then the stove has to be turned off for several hours before the man can do the job. On a cold day, we kick ourselves for not having the job done in the warm weather. I came in from town while the man was halfway through the job. I was running back and forth putting things away and he was running in and out putting things in his truck. In a matter of minutes we had bumped into one another several times while both trying to go through the narrow doorway between the kitchen and the big room at the same time. Every time we laughed. It got funnier as it happened again and again. He said “You know what this is? This is called The Dancing Point.”
7 September Sunday
The raspberries continue to be ripe and ready every day. Some evenings I collect them before dark so that they will be there for breakfast in the morning. More often I have to step out in the morning in my bathrobe and my wellie boots to get just enough to eat with cereal. I go back out later in the morning to fill up a larger bowl, but I am enjoying the portion control of picking just as many berries as I want to eat. The leaves and the grass and everything are all drenched on these cool mornings. The days have been hot. There is so much picking to do. The blackberries have never been so plentiful although I think that I think this every year. I keep picking and picking. Some for the freezer and some for the eating. The blotcheens are delicious. We made jam with the wild damsons but somehow we never make anything with the blotcheens. We just eat them.
5 September Friday
The excitement about the new Rose of Tralee seems to be over. Or it has just been pushed aside while other things take priority in the news. The competition happens every year and even though it seems quite old-fashioned to hold a beauty contest, it gets a lot of young women entering and a lot of people watching it on national television. The women who enter are all of Irish descent although they can be from anywhere in the world. There is a Hong Kong Rose, a Dubai Rose, a Melbourne Rose and sometimes even a Japanese Rose. They come from everywhere. I do not know how they are chosen from the place where they live. There must be a preliminary Rose of Tralee competition to see who will represent a particular city or country. Once the competition arrives in Kerry, there are handsome young men assigned to each Rose. They accompany herself on whatever activities are done over the week or ten days of the competition. The escorts are chosen from all over Ireland. They often appear in tuxedos. The women have to perform different tasks such as discussing their jobs, their education, and answering questions about their dreams and aspirations. They have to perform some sort of Party Piece like a song, or a dance or playing a musical instrument. Some recite a poem. I do not think there is anything as sexist as a bathing suit contest but it is understood that the Rose of Tralee must be attractive. I have probably written about the Rose of Tralee competition before but I have not watched it for a long time. For me, once was enough. This years Rose is from Philadelphia. After she won the crown she declined a toast as she announced that she is a teetotaller. Later it was noted that she is gay. Some people seemed disturbed by this and there was a lot of discussion on the radio and in the papers. The new Rose was asked why she did not tell anyone beforehand that she was Gay.. She said that no one had asked. After a little flurry, the whole issue has died down and now the 2014 Rose can just get on doing whatever the Rose of Tralee does for the year of her reign.