Rubber bands on the path
19 August Wednesday
We woke up to rain. It was heavy beating rain. We had been warned that this rain was coming and that it would continue for a few days this week. The wet air felt different. It felt like summer might be over. I was sad. Then I decided to cheer up and to believe the forecast that promised better weather for Friday and the weekend. The postman promised that They are Giving Good for the Weekend. This is an often used expression and one can always choose to believe it, or not.
Andrzej arrived to do some heavy outdoor work. The early lashing rain had changed into a soaking drizzle but it was still much too wet for him to even consider doing anything. Then we understood that he had made the trip specially to bring us a big plastic container full of fileted mackerel which he caught in the sea last night. He said it was only a few hours since he caught it and that we must eat it fresh for lunch. We were delighted and he drove off happy with his gift-giving. I worried that he might meet Mary in the boreen forcing one of them into a difficult backing up. Fortunately, she was late. She came in announcing that she had brought lunch today for us all. She brought bread and a rhubarb tart and mackerel. Lucky for us that her mackerel is smoked so we are spared eating a mountain of fresh fish for lunch.
18 August Tuesday
I saw another bunch of the bright pink silage bales in a field today. They were piled, placed and shaped together to look like a tractor and trailer.
16 August Sunday
The announcer on the radio spoke about how a player in today’s match had made a long reach. He said He was Stretched Out Long, As Though It Were Morning and He Was Still On The Bed.
15 August Saturday
There was another escape of cows. There are always cows escaping. This lot got out of their field, went down the Long Field, then took a left onto the Ardfinnan road and took a right down the hill and into the village. One of the cows bit a chunk of hay out of the Two Bale High Man who is standing at the corner near the bridge advertising a fun event. After the cows crossed the bridge into the village, they spread out in all directions. Local estimates claim that there were 80 cows. It was 2 in the morning when they were discovered. I do not know how long they were there before someone noticed them. Most interesting was how anyone figured out where they had come from. Who would miss their cows at 2 am? And these cows had made a journey of 4.5 kilometres from the farm where they lived.
14 August Friday
Everywhere feels quiet. The land is quiet. There is little birdsong to be heard. It is so quiet that it nearly feels worrying. Someone told me that the silence of the birds is because they are moulting. I do not understand the logic of this but it is something to think about.
13 August Thursday
Three of us took a walk in Killballyboy woods. Sometimes the path we were on was narrow and sometimes it widened. We walked side by side or single file or two together and one alone. Our positions were changing constantly. The track was not rough so we did not have to look down all the time but still it was important to scan the area ahead for roots or stones or holes as we walked. Early on I noticed a rubber band on the ground. It was a nice fat rubber band and it looked new. I like rubber bands. I noted that it was a good one. Minutes later I saw several more rubber bands. These were also thick and also new. To see one or even two rubber bands out in the woods is not noteworthy. Walkers might have them on their their lunch bags, or they might be used to hold something onto a pack. They might have been on someone’s wrist or in a pocket. Very quickly, I realized that the number of rubber bands which I was seeing was not a normal amount of rubber bands to be finding on a forest path.
Later, I learned that this wooded area, which has been completely invaded by rhododendrons, is a popular spot for people who export the leaves. Each bunch of leaves on thin branches is held together with a rubber band. These are then shipped to Holland where the Dutch like them. I do not know what the Dutch do with these bunches of rhododendron leaves. Maybe they arrange them as greenery with various kinds of flowers. The industrial scale cutting and gathering of these leaves is not legal in the forest. The people doing the exporting hire Romanian workers who work deep in the forest well out of sight of the paths. The workers then gather somewhere discreetly at the end of the day to load the gathered leafy bunches into trucks. It is hard to imagine how many bunches of rhododendron leaves it takes to fill a lorry. The rubber bands are the only sign that the pickers have been there.