The Pouring of Tea
12 December Friday
I watched four men at a nearby table. They had an ordinary metal pot of tea to be shared out among them. I was seeing something that I had seen many times before. One man lifted the pot and offered tea with a word or a little nod of the head to each person before he poured it. If there had been a woman present at the table, she would have done the pouring but since there was not a woman the men did it for themselves with the same formality and politeness. It never matters if they are workmen with heavy muddy boots or if they are men in tidy suits. The pouring and the drinking of tea is a gentle sharing between Irish men. There is ritual and there is a kind of reverence for the ritual. This pouring of tea and the drinking of tea together is not like tea shared anywhere else.
11 December Thursday
There is a line-up of cows eating in Joe’s field every other day when I pass. The field slopes down and away from the track. The area closest to where I walk is covered with short stubble and the earth has been all mushed up by the feet of the cows. Each time the single line of cows is there they are farther down the hill and farther down the field. The cows are eating some kind of leafy dark green vegetation. I call it The Kale Eating of The Cows but really I do not know what it is they are eating. The fence wire which stops them from moving all the way down the hill keeps them in their line and keeps them from eating too far into the field. Since I do not see them in this field every day, I do not know if the eating of this leafy crop is rich and therefore they get enough iron or whatever by eating it every other day. Or maybe they are there every day and I just miss seeing them. From where I am walking all I see is a lot of cows from behind, one beside another, with their heads down. The chomping cows go lower and lower down hill as the area of stubble gets larger. The stubble and the messed up earth which they leave behind show how much they enjoy this eating. They leave nothing green in their wake.
10 December Wednesday
I spoke with an older woman who told me that she hates buttons. I thought that her dislike of buttons was a result of her age. I thought possibly she had arthritis or some other stiffness in her fingers. I thought that her extreme dislike of buttons might come from an inability to do and un-do buttons. I asked her as diplomatically as I could if perhaps this was the reason for her strong dislike of buttons. She assured me that neither age nor pain had anything to do with it. She said that as a child she had no opinion one way or the other but as an adult she has always hated buttons. She said she has hated buttons for as long as she can remember.