9 April Thursday
We walked up along the hill by Flemingstown early this morning. The heat was already building up. The ground was dry. There was no mud anywhere, even in the very low bits of the fields where we usually sink ankle-deep. Once we were out on the road, Michael came along in his car. He did not say hello. He just asked straight off if we might be in need of a load of dung.
8 April Wednesday
There is yet another group of new-born calves in Joe’s concrete holding place beside the barn. They are struggling to get their legs working correctly. They look surprised about everything. Skittish is the word to describe them. The calves who were born a few weeks ago are still down in the lower field and they are getting stronger, more confident and more boisterous by the day. This is one of the teat feeders which is being used to provide both sets of calves with their fattening up formula. It can be hung as high or as low on the gate as is needed.
Below is a home-made feeder which belongs to the other Joe. I call it the Teat Trailer. I do not know what Joe calls it. It can feed a real crowd, but the height does not look optional. The rubber teats are replaceable and appear to be available in various colours.
7 April Tuesday
DO NOT JUDGE A BOOK BY IT’S COVER! is a new sign in the library. Below the sign there is a table with about twenty books on it. Each book is wrapped in newspaper and there is a piece of pale blue or bright green paper taped on its front with the words: CHOOSE ME! or PICK ME! or READ ME! Under the big letters is a clue to the subject matter of the book. One clue was Bio-fiction/Scandal and another was Humour/Tourettes. I am wondering if after you decide to take a book on the strength of these clues you are then allowed to change your mind when you go to check it out. The book will need to be unwrapped so that the librarian can stamp the due date. Not knowing what you got till you get home would prolong the mystery but would probably not be practical.
6 April Easter Monday
It is too hot to do anything outside. A heat haze sits over the valley. I am torn between thinking I should be doing a thousand jobs in the garden and thinking it is better to just sit down and savour this unexpected warmth. Marian told me that she has not seen the inside of her house for three days now. Everyone jokes that we better enjoy this stretch of heat as it might be all the summer that we get. I prefer not to believe that.
5 April Easter Sunday
I love the daffodils which appear in unexpected places. Sometimes they are on the side of the road in a little group, or far off at the edge of a field not anywhere near a house. Sometimes they are up on top of a stone wall. These have never been planted in the place where they are growing. Maybe some soil got dumped or something got moved and the bulbs just got carried along to a new spot. The daffodils had to have traveled to their new location by some human act. They are a variation on the sort of volunteers which plant themselves by being blown to a new spot. Daffodil bulbs are too heavy to blow anywhere.
4 April Saturday
One woman was reassuring another. Sure, she said, we all have more liver than we need.
3 April Good Friday
Good Friday is not as massive an event as it used to be only a few years ago. Bars and restaurants are still forbidden to serve alcohol. As a result they are all closed. Shops and supermarkets are not allowed to sell drink either. The only way to purchase a drink is to have a ticket to travel. One can sit in the bar of a train station or at the airport and drink. Some people buy a ticket for the next nearest station and then sit and drink for the day just because they can. Not so long ago the pub would be packed with people on the Thursday night before Good Friday with everyone trying in a manic way to drink two days worth of alcohol just so they would not miss anything. Mostly people do not care these days. It is no longer unusual to have alcohol at home. If people want a drink on Good Friday they are free to have one in the privacy of their home. Most people are not concerned with what the church and its lingering hold over the government decree. And the entire country is not shut down any more. Many shops are open and the big stores all have sales. It is easy to not even notice that it is Good Friday except for the deep quiet over the countryside.
2 April Thursday
Along the road at the end of a drive or directly in front of each house there are three bright orange plastic barricade things. Each one is about one metre by one and half metres and standing on two black moulded plastic feet. The three barricades support one another and stand as a triangle shape over the place where the water pipes go from the mains system into that property. It took me a while to figure out what the barricades were for. Any house which has a well has none of the barricades in place. The bright orange is a shock to see as we move along the roads. It is so garish in contrast to the early spring greens and the greys of stone walls. The plastic things have been appearing over the last week or two. An white flat bed truck dropped them at each spot and set them up in their little triangles. Now some of the barricades are no longer standing and they are lying flat in a pile on the side of the road. On investigation, I see that each house has a newly concreted place with a metal square for the new water meter system. The new meter is hidden below the metal square. In some places the new meter is in a grassy verge so there is no concrete. When the meter has been installed, the plastic things are laid to one side. The same white truck which drove around putting the barricades up is now going along and collecting the plastic things.
There has been a lot of noise and protest about the new water charges. Many people still feel outraged about being asked to pay for water in such a wet country. More people feel angry about this new tax on top of so many other new taxes. Every weekend there are Anti-Water Charge marches in Dublin and sometimes also in various towns and cities around the country. There is a lot of anger. It is less noticeable around here. Seeing the orange barricades going up and then slowly seeing them be removed is encouraging conversation about the tax but the conversation is still a quiet conversation. It is harder to gather people together to make a mass opinion on anything when we are all so widely spread apart.