In Residence

by ericavanhorn

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13 October Monday

Every morning starts with a dense fog.  Today the postman came down and said there has been an accident on Knocklofty Bridge.  The road has been closed and all movements are being made difficult by detours and by further fog.  We cannot see over the valley.  We cannot see past the fence into the field. Everything is wet with heavy dew.  The heavy fog holds everything in silence.  I went out to pick my breakfast raspberries today wearing the high rubber boots. My sleeves got soaked immediately just from the water on the leaves.  By lunchtime everyday, the fog burns off and each afternoon is hot and bright. Mornings are for hats and waterproofs and the afternoons are tee-shirt weather. There is a manic feeling that every single job which needs doing before winter comes must be done in these four or five bright hours.  No matter what else needs to be done the dry sunlight hours are for out of door jobs.

12 October Sunday

Simon and I took a working walk up the Mass Path. He carried a big saw and a small saw.  I carried a small saw and clippers.  We worked at clearing away a dead tree which fell and has been blocking the way.  A few weeks ago the lower level was cleared of nettles and brambles and thin branches but this fallen tree has made further passage up the hill impossible.  If we had had a chain saw it would have been a really quick job.  With hand saws, it was slow and complicated.  We were tangled up with brambles and branches.  I worked away at one big branch which came down hard on my head.  We both ended up bleeding and slightly beaten.  We did get the tree cut and moved but then as we went up towards Johnnie Mackin’s there were more sections all closed in with brambles and vegetation and hanging tendrils of thorns.  At that point we gave up and decided to continue the struggle tomorrow.

11 October Saturday

Hay and straw has been baled up and stacked for the winter.  Every single barn and shed everywhere has enormous piles right up to the ceiling.  The sheds are  open on one side so that there is air to circulate around the bales.  Some bales are still outside.  There is a big stack on the Cooney’s corner on concrete slabs so it is off the ground but it is still out of doors.  It looks like a building.  It is six bales high and seven bales long by five bales wide.  The bales on the front of this bale building look like structural columns as they are the cylindrical rather than the rectangular bales.  As a building it is domestic in scale.  It is a golden house in the end of afternoon sunlight.

10 October Friday

The trees are still laden with apples.  The very warm weather and the craziness of the whole growing season all the way back to last spring means that the different varieties have all ripened at abnormal times. I do not understand it at all.  We are a bit overwhelmed.  I have boxes of apples picked and stored in different places.  The mice have found some.  A lot of them are not as great for eating as they usually are.  We have started to make applesauce with a combination of different varieties.  We have started to make applesauce to defeat the mice.  The applesauce is delicious.  I have frozen some and I have taken bowls full to different people. I saw Tommie and I asked him how Margaret was.  I asked him if they liked applesauce.  He said that she liked it and that he loved. it.  I told him I would bring some down later.  He said “If I know you are coming, I will be In Residence.”

9 October Thursday

I needed to clean out the car before taking it in for inspection.  I use the excuse of the NCT test as a reason to give it a thorough interior cleaning once a year.  This level of cleaning is not expected. It is my own requirement.  The outside of the car is more important especially the inner wells around the tires.  The wheel wells of this car always have a good three inches of caked in mud and soil just from our daily driving up and down the boreen.  If we were to take the car in with all that mud they would refuse to do the test.  We would have to pay for the refused test and then we would have to re-book it, return mud-less and pay again.

I had been to the dump, so I was unloading the various re-cycling containers.  I thought it a good idea to do the dump run before the cleaning.  I had both the back and the front doors open.  A big yellow Labrador arrived as I was making trips back and forth to the shed.  He followed me around for a while and then he jumped up into the back of the car.  He sniffed around inside and then he moved up and sat on the passenger seat.  He looked out the windscreen.  I have never seen this dog before.  I expected to see someone walking down the track.  I expected to see someone who would call this dog by name and who would continue on their walk and take the dog along.  He was not a young dog.  He was an older dog with that heaviness that Labs often have.  He was older but not elderly.  He was sprightly enough to leap up into the back of the car without taking a running jump.  I know most dogs in the area.  It is unusual to see a dog I do not know. If I do not know a dog by name I at least know him by sight. I usually know the people he is connected with and it is unusual not to know where a dog lives.

I talked to the dog while I cleared stuff from the car and did a bit of window cleaning.  I decided that perhaps he could smell Em in the motor.  I was finding a lot of her long hair in clumps as I worked.  He did not do anything except sit in the passenger seat.  Sometimes he looked at me but mostly he just looked out the window.  When I started the vacuum cleaner he jumped out and by the time I turned it off again, he was gone.  I did not even see which way he went, but I am sure I will see him again.

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