Not a gift.

by ericavanhorn

20 March Friday

I nearly missed it.  I nearly missed the time of the solar eclipse because I was busy trying to find out what time it was supposed to begin.  It was an overcast and drizzly morning.  It had been grey and gloomy since first light.  I tried to use the internet to get the information but it was not working.  I turned on the radio and after a while the announcer began to talk about the eclipse.  He talked about the coming eclipse and then he talked about the actual happening of it.  As I listened, the birds stopped singing and the sky went from grey to a rusty reddish brown. The soft drizzle did not stop for a minute.  The announcer spoke with various people around the country.  He paused for a chat with a postman in County Cork who had stopped his van on a hill to get a good view of the whole thing.  The postman described his bit of blue sky getting dark.  He described the silenced birds.  There was no rain where he stood. The radio announcer asked if there was a big crowd there with him.  He said No, I am here all on my own just outside Bantry.  He added, And if anyone complains about their post being late, I will be telling them that I was forced to stop for electrical problems due to the solar eclipse.

There are a lot of things described and made visible on the radio.  Every afternoon, there is a program which follows nesting birds and their eggs and later their hatched chicks.  We can sit in our houses or our cars or our tractors all over the country and listen to someone on the radio describing what they are seeing on a special camera which has been installed in a bird box.  They can see the birds.  We cannot. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of people around the country follow these birds over several weeks simply as a result of the power of description.  Listening to the eclipse being seen by someone else was much like listening to someone else watching eggs hatch.

23 March Monday

Everywhere we look when we drive or walk through the mountains there is gorse in bloom.  The bright yellow flowers are a delight.  Usually in the places where the gorse grows, there is not a lot else growing.  As soon as I say that I can look out the window and see exceptions.  But it does not grow everywhere.  I think it is about acid in the soil.  I always start to describe things which I do not know much about and then I get trapped by not knowing and by not stopping.  The gorse is also called furze which is a word I like and I would like to say furze when I speak of gorse but I always say gorse.  Not many people say furze but some do.  Breda told me that her sister was out of doors near her house and was startled by the the sound of popping.  Lots of popping.  It took her a while to find the source of it.  It was the gorse blossoms popping.  I have never heard this sound. I do not know when it happens.  We see the gorse in bloom from February through to May or June so maybe it is when the flowers are first coming out.  I am longing to hear this.  There must be someone to ask who will know when to be listening to the gorse popping.  There is always someone to ask.  There is always someone who knows.

24 March Tuesday

On describing a current court trial, the reporter said that  The Victim and the Accused were known to one another.

25 March Wednesday

He kept waking up to the sound of scratching.  It was early early in the morning.  It was just Coming Light.  The extremely manic sounds of the dawn chorus were loud.  The scratching woke him up and as a result of being awake, he lay in his bed and enjoyed the birdsong.  He had no doubt that the scratching sound was mice in the walls and the roof.  He put out mouse traps and a little bit of poison.  He knew it was just a matter of time before the mice were silenced.  A week passed and the scratching continued.  Maybe the scratching got worse.  He was woken up every morning.  Listening to the morning birdsong had been a pleasure but now it was annoying.  He was feeling defeated by the mice.

Jimmie stopped by one day and they talked about things.  The subject of the mice came up.  Jimmie told him that his problem was not mice but crows.  The two men went outside and looked up at the steep pitch of the roof.  Jimmie pointed to the bits of moss growing on the slates and in between the slates.  He said the crows are eating bugs and things that live in the moss.  The scratching he was hearing was their claws trying to gain purchase while slipping and sliding on the roof.  Jimmie told him that unless he cleaned out the moss he wouldn’t get rid of the crows.  Jimmie reminded him that the same thing happened when they were children in their father’s house.

He told me all of this when we met on the road.  I was on foot and he was speaking out his open car window.  He was pleased to have a solution for the scratching sound, but irritated that it had to be his own brother who put him straight.  Both brothers are well into their seventies but they maintain a competitive kind of relationship.  Jimmie was older and he had always known better.  He would always be older and he seemed always to be the one in the know. It was getting late for a change.

26 March Thursday

The wind is wild.  The washing I hung out earlier seems to be gone.  Or some of it is gone.  I decided to wait until the rain stopped before heading out to check it. When I did get outside it did not seem to me that there were as many things on the line as there had been but I could not decide what was missing so I did not know how to miss it. I walked out into the field wearing Welly boots thinking I might see something that looked like clothing or towels in the long wet grass or tangled on a bush. Either whatever flew away flew far away or I just did not hang out as many things as I thought I did.

The reason things are falling onto the ground and blowing away is not only because of the wind.  My clothes pegs have not weathered the winter well.  The plastic ones have suffered from being out of doors over several winters.  They are cracking and breaking and generally falling apart.  The plastic pegs have perished.  The wooden pegs are giving up too.  There are divided opinions about clothes pegs.  People feel strongly about them.  The plastic ones are supposed to be better because they do not leave brown marks on clothes the way a wet wooden peg might do.  But I am fond of the wooden ones. I try not to use them on things like white pillow cases so I always have a mixture of the two kinds.  When I buy wooden pegs I always buy the ones which promise to be Storm Proof.

27 March Friday

Simon took his old tablets to the pharmacist.  The plan was for her to incorporate them together with his new monthly prescription.  When he went in today to collect them, she gave him back the flowered box in which he had delivered them to her.  He said Oh dear, I was hoping to be rid of that box.  I was hoping not to have it back.  She said Everyone here thought you had brought me a present!