19 March Thursday
The day is bright. The nights are cold. There is frost on everything each morning but it melts away quickly. Joe’s cows are in the near field. The other Joe’s calves are out in the field above. They have only been out of doors and in the field for a day or two. First the cows and then the calves. These are signs of spring. For a few days the calves were just in the farmyard on their thin legs which did not look strong enough to hold them. They all had new tags in their ears. The tags look huge in relation to their heads. Now the calves have been moved into the field and there are two white plastic houses for them to go into if they feel weak or cold, or maybe there is food in the little houses. Oscar was walking with me and then he ran off and wiggled through the gate. He ran over to the little houses. He went right inside. I was worried that he might frighten the calves. He is big and black and larger than most of them. Perhaps they would think he is a mother. I worried that he might be eating their special calves formula. Mostly I worried that Joe would see him down in the field among the calves. Joe has never liked Oscar and each time Oscar walks by with us Joe makes noises to shoo him out of the farmyard and away. I am not sure that Joe likes any dogs. If he sees Oscar in his field surrounded by the calves I do not know what he will do but I fear it will not be nice for Oscar.
18 March Wednesday
People do not seem to be joking so much about who will be the winner. The whole thing has become serious. There is a careful, quiet attention to the results of each weekly draw. I feel I too must keep my attention on the draw. The Jackpot has still not been won. It has now risen to 11,600 euro. It is a lot of money. Monday night’s draw had 14 winners of the Match Three Numbers variety. They each won 20 euro. One person won the Lucky Ticket prize of 20 euro. And there were six Special St Patrick’s Day Prizes of 50 euro each.
17 March Patrick’s Day
We went down to the village to meet Greg and Breda for a walk in the mountains. While we waited for them, I studied the display of St.Patrick’s Day stuff which was right inside the door of the shop. It was sited in such a way that it could not be missed. Almost everything was cheap and shiny, and of course, it was green. Or it was both green and orange. There were a lot of things on the display stand. There were flags and hats and banners and bibs and small ribbons with a safety pin. There was so much on the display rack that I wondered how much had been purchased. I wondered if much of anything had been purchased and now, on the morning of the day, it was nearly too late to sell another thing so it will have to be put away until next year. Beside the display was a basket of products to be raffled off for Easter.
We left the shop and all evidence of the National Holiday and drove up to The Boulders. We walked for a while until we reached the river and then we dropped down through a rocky overgrown boreen and eventually back to the village. There was a lot to look at in the bright spring morning. We saw sheep up on the mountains. We saw two herons. There were many birds and buds and some lesser celandine in bloom as we dropped off the moorland and back into farmland. We did not see one other person.
16 March Monday
No one says that they will Knock on the Door. They say they will Knock the Door. Or that they did Knock the Door.
14 March Saturday
Jim and Keith had very few vegetables on their stall at the market today. What they did have was big bunches of daffodils for sale. The daffodils were being sold for the benefit of the Hospice. There was a big bee in one of the blossoms. It was a sleepy bee. It might have been a bumblebee. It was fat enough to be a bumblebee. The flower was one of those very pale almost-cream-coloured daffodils. It was barely yellow, so the bee was very visible. Keith moved the bucket with that one bunch of flowers to the edge of the table so that the bee could be in the sun. He thought if the sun warmed it, it might wake up and fly off. Every person who walked by stopped and commented on the bee. Every person stopped and examined the bee quite close up. It was the first bee I have seen. I think that it was the first bee that any of us were seeing this year.
13 March Friday
The security van was backed up in front of the shop. I am always a little nervous when I see these vans. The men who get out with helmets are sometimes wearing bullet-proof vests. I know it is rare for these vans to be held up but I know that it is not unknown for these vans to be held up. When they are held up by robbers it is always in some rural village. This is a rural village. It would be as good as spot as any to rob the van. I always feel the tiny bit of nervousness and then I just continue with whatever I am there to do.
There were two people in front of me waiting for Helen at the Post Office window. It is rare to have even one person in front of me. This is not a busy post office. It has a lot of regular activity but it does not have lines of waiting people. It is just a small facility in the middle of the shop.
The security man came out of the post office with his special sealed up box with its built-in handle. Helen dialed a number and told someone that the money had been collected and was on its way. While she was making her phone call, the security man stopped to look at some stuffed animals on a shelf. He put his money box down on the floor and he tossed a small bear into the air a few times. Then he went to the counter up front in the shop and asked something, perhaps he asked the price of the bear. He returned and put the bear back on the shelf. He picked up his secure money box from where he had left it standing on the floor and continued walking out to his secure van.
12 March Thursday
The rain has been coming down sideways. How can I say the rain has been coming down when in fact it has been moving sideways. The wind is gusting and blowing. The rain is not able to fall straight down. The rain never stops. It is not vertical rain. It is horizontal rain and it is a drenching rain. It is impossible to go even the shortest distance without being soaked by it. Every activity which involves leaving the house is carefully considered. It is hard to open the back door. It is easy to postpone going to one of the barns because there is the hope that the rain will let up soon and the day will clear. Other days this week have begun wet and windy and then they have cleared and become glorious blue sky days. This day holds none of that optimism. It is grey and cold and gruesome. The compost bucket is full but there is no way I am walking out to empty it. The compost can wait. So far, nothing is important enough to merit the soaking which simply stepping out the door makes inevitable. Everything can wait.