2 January 2015 Friday
Today we took the longer walk over Joe’s fields. The cow track was full of deep mud and muck. There was no where to walk but right through the mud, as the fields are all flooded and sodden at that low point. I was sinking ankle deep in the mud and hoping that it would not go over the tops of my boots. I was sort of wishing that I had worn my Welly boots even though I dislike walking any distance in them. This was the one day I absolutely should have worn them. The only way to walk through the morass was to keep looking down and to be constantly on the look out for a less deep area of mud or for a bit of raised grassy banking to step up and out of the wet for a few metres. Each time I looked up I was blinded by the bright sun which was still low in the morning sky. If I looked down I could only see mud and if I looked up I could see nothing. The wind was sharp and cold.
Later I went down to the village and I met a man who had just returned from his own walk. He told me that tomorrow will be desperate and wet beyond all belief so it is the right thing to be out on a walk today. This man and I were the only ones thinking and talking of walking. The village was all in a flurry. One of the McCarra family was getting married at 3 o’clock. There were men in suits and women in sparkly fancy dresses and high heels. Kieran was wearing a suit and tie as he carefully loaded a sack of coal into an old woman’s car. There were several women rushing in and out of The Hair Den. One woman drove up and jumped out of her car and ran inside. She was wearing a hairdressers big black cape, with a small towel tucked in around her neck. Her hair was all up in curlers. She had driven home to do something and now she was back to have her hair finished.
1 January 2015 New Year’s Day
The whole day was wet and grey and windy. Sometimes the grey of the sky was very bright. It almost looked like the sun might break through, but it never happened. The rain was not all day rain and we managed a walk around the boreen without getting drenched. We just got sort of misted by the on and off again drizzle. During the entire circuit, we did not see one person, nor one dog nor one motor vehicle. There was a deep, damp silence over everything. I did not feel much enthusiasm about taking a walk but I knew that if the youthful Em were still here with us, there would be no question about whether or not we took a walk. The only question would have been when we would walk and, indeed, would the walk happen soon enough to satisfy her impatience. Rain and cold were not her problems so she had no patience with excuses. Heading off reluctantly today made me think of her. I quickly decided that it was wonderful to be outside and that the bit of rain was not a problem for me either. It was not a very beautiful day to begin the year, but it was quiet.
31 December Wednesday
The jackpot in the village lottery has still not been won. No one managed to secure the big prize before Christmas. Now the jackpot has gone up to 10,100 euro. The last draw had eleven people sharing the Bonus Numbers with each person winning 20 euro. One person won the Lucky Number. That was also a 20 euro pay-out. The prize continues to grow and now the speculation is who will win it and get to pay off all their holiday debts in one fell swoop.
30 December Tuesday
People who have just passed their driving test are now required by law to have a large white sticker with a big red letter N on their car. The N stands for NOVICE. I think this law has been in effect for a year or so now. A Novice driver must keep the sticker visible on whatever car he or she is driving for two years. I assume the sticker can be peeled off and put onto another vehicle. I do not know if it matters if the sticker is on the front of the car or on the back of the car. Today I saw a young woman with the big red N on the windscreen of her very small car. The white square sticker was so big that she had her head bent at an impossible angle trying to see around the sticker. For the first time, I felt that the N might be more of a danger than a help.
29 December Monday
The field has been planted with some kind of winter crop. It looks like grass and has not yet grown much. There is no height to it. It is just grass growing in long even rows maybe for no other reason than to keep the topsoil from blowing away. Or maybe it is a grassy crop which will rejuvenate the soil for spring planting. I was not very interested in the crop even as I wondered about it. I was interested to see a black and white form lying exactly in the center of the field. Even at a long distance I could tell that what I was seeing was not a reclining cow or calf. I was looking at a dog and I was pretty sure it was a sheepdog. I called out a Whoo-hooooo! kind of noise and the dog looked up. He looked up and then he looked all around and then he stood up. It was indeed a sheepdog and after identifying where the sound came from he quickly picked up whatever it was he had been chewing. From where I was walking, I had not been able to see that he was chewing on anything. He had been chewing on the long leg of some tall animal. I would guess it was a deer leg. He picked up the leg by one end and half dragged and half carried it off down a banking and into some long grass. All the time that he was running he was looking behind to be certain that I was not coming after him. He did not want to share his bone and he did not want anyone to take it away from him. I did not want to follow him and I did not want his bone. I was just happy to see a sheepdog, and ever so happy to see a sheepdog with a secret.