The things we need.

by ericavanhorn

17 April Friday

Every day things are moved outside to be on display in the space between the food shop and the hardware shop.  At the end of the day everything gets put away again. Without exception, it is all useful stuff.  I watched this morning as a wheelbarrow, and various things on wheels were all moved out.  There were bags of kindling, small bags of coal, peat briquettes, 40 kg bags of coal and a big sack of timber blocks, 75 litre bags of multi-purpose compost, a display of gas canisters and a sign advertising key cutting.  The sign was not on wheels.  And now, since the weather has been so good, the bicycle table and the four seats made from red bicycle seats are out too. The arrival of this outdoor seating is a real sign of spring.

16 April Thursday

Someone won the jackpot.  The total was 12,050 euro.  The winner was someone over in Ballinamult.  John told me that it was a fine thing that it had been won.  He said that after all these months now everyone in the village can stop dreaming about being the Biggest Winner Ever.

15 April Wednesday

The boreen is a mess.  It is more like a dried up river bed than a road. After a year of ringing the council to try to get some repairs done, we received a form inviting us to apply for a road repair scheme.  Today a man came down.  He was an engineer.  He never got out of his car. He talked to us through the open window.  He said that he has seven people applying for the allotted amount of grant money.  One of the other roads needing repair is a mile long and it has 14 houses on it.  There are only two houses on our road.  He said our road is too narrow for the machinery anyway.  He said that our road is not really a road. The whole time he was talking he gestured with his hands.  He had PEANUT BUTTER written in capital letters across his left palm in blue ink.  I could not stop looking at it.  I wanted to mention the peanut butter, but I kept to the subject of the road which of course will not be done this year.

13 April Monday

Michael Keating died yesterday morning.  He had eaten his breakfast and he was getting ready to go to Mass and he just died.  It was very sudden.  Everyone is stunned. The wake was held today from 3-8 at his son Joe’s house just down the road from his own home.  We walked over the fields at about 5 o’clock to pay our respects.  It was the usual time for the cows to head up for their milking so they were already on their way to the barn.  We drove them along ahead of us as we walked.

Joe had been out in the morning and put down a few loads of gravel at the entrance to the field nearest to his house.  Cars were being directed into the field to park in order to get them off the narrow road.  A metre wide piece of plywood was laid down over the cattle grid in the driveway so that no one would twist an ankle walking over it. People were arriving and leaving all the time.  The field never had fewer than fifteen cars in it.  I think we were the only ones to arrive on foot.  There was a constant stream of new arrivals.  Three men wearing reflective vests directed the traffic in and out of the field.  There was another man out at the Knocklofty road directing people down to the house. Michael lived in this area  for his entire life.  He knew everyone and everyone knew him. One man, standing in the road, announced that Michael had been universally liked and respected. He repeated the word Universally several times.

We went into the house and spoke with Biddy and the family in the darkened room where Michael was laid out.  There were some photographs of him on the mantel.  There was also a photo of his daughter Mary who died two years ago.  Then we sat down and had a cup of tea.  The biggest tea pot I have ever seen was being carried about.  The tea pot seemed to provide endless cups of tea.  It had to be carried with two hands. Someone said that it was borrowed from the village hall.  I think maybe there were two of these gigantic pots making the rounds. Everyone had a cup of tea and everyone talked quietly.  Everyone said that Mary’s death had broken Michael’s heart and that he had never been the same since.

When we left the house, the evening was still bright and more people were arriving.  As we walked home on the road, we met many other people on their way to the house.  A few stopped to ask us if they were going the right way for Joe’s house.  Others stopped to speak of the sad and sudden death of Michael.  Some people were on their way to the wake and some people were on their way from the wake. Not one car passed us without stopping.  It took longer than usual to walk home. The wake was supposed to end at 8, but people kept arriving until 10 o’clock.  I understand that big lights were put up in the field to help people find their way to and from their cars.  The funeral is tomorrow at noon. There will be masses of people there too.

11 April Saturday

It has been one of those days.  Just as I was about to leave the house there was a downpour.  The downpour was heavy and included about ten minutes of hail.  It stopped as abruptly as it started.  I walked out in bright sun with a large rainbow off on my right.  The sun stayed strong while I climbed the Mass Path.  As I reached the tar road, a wind began to gust and everything went dark.  I zipped up my jacket, put up my hood and kept walking.  It did not rain.  On reaching the corner the sun came out again and the wind dropped.  My hood went down again. Things remained blustery but bright.  Oscar heard my whistle and joined me.  We walked together until we were stopped by cows crossing the track.  They were moving from one field across to another field. As we waited the sky went dark again and rain poured down.  I hunched in my coat. Oscar squeezed in close to me.  There were no trees nearby to shelter behind or under.  We just made ourselves small and we waited.  By the time the cows were in their new field the rain stopped again.  I walked the last bit down the boreen with my jacket open and my hood down. Oscar ran ahead of me.  Once we arrived here we wandered around together. He sniffed at things and I examined things like the new buds on trees. It was so lovely that I did not want to go inside and Oscar did not want to home.

10 April Friday

I am disturbed about the absence of the dog on the bus.  The look of the national bus service, Bus Eireann has changed over the years. The actual buses get more modern, but the basic bus colour combination is always red and white, with the words Bus Eireann written in green.  Sometimes the bus colour is more red. When the buses became less rounded and more square and modern they also became more white with less red.  Whatever colour was predominant there has always been a running dog on each side and on the front of the bus.  The dog was a drawn picture of a red and orange Irish setter. It was not a photograph of a dog.  The new express buses are nearly completely red and the dog is no where to be seen. I hope this is not the norm and just some aberration for the express service.

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