Just the right wood
18 October Sunday
Simon’s wooden gutters were taken down last year when the house got painted. Slowly they have been getting re-used. The treated Douglas Fir will last maybe forever, so it has been good for the wood to find new functions. It has been used to make new table tops on two outdoor tables and it has made a new bench just outside the sauna. The props for the lean-to have been strengthened and replaced. The broken fence where the cows broke through down below has been repaired with the gutter wood. There is still more of the wood. We are looking around not in any kind of a hurry but knowing that there will be another job needing to be done and knowing that this wood will be just the right wood when the time comes.
17 October Saturday
Every one of these sunny afternoons is full of activity. Cows are out in fields which have already been cut or chewed short. Hundreds or maybe thousands of crows are gathered on a freshly ploughed up field. I think they are eating worms. They lift and they land in huge crowds. They are too many for me to call them a flock. Young heifers rush along beside the stonewall. The field where they are grazing is just above the level of my head as I walk. They race along in a group jostling and trying to get as close to me as they can. They push each other as they follow and look over the wall to make sure that I am still down below but just beside them. They seem to just want to be going somewhere and they want to be going in a big excitable group. Wherever I am going is just somewhere to be going.
16 October Friday
A Garda was buried yesterday. He was shot and killed while trying to calm a domestic dispute. The country is in shock. The media keep reporting details of the attack and details of the funeral. They list the objects which were lined up on his coffin. Alongside a family portrait were the things that he loved to enjoy in his relaxing time. They included a shirt from his local hurling club, the remote control for the television, a can of coke, a chocolate bar and a bag of Hunky Dory crisps.
15 October Thursday
I sat in the small narrow room where everyone sits while waiting for their car to be inspected. Some people were waiting for their turn. Some people had their cars in the inspection bay already. Some were just there to keep other people company. There are ten seats in the room, eight along one wall and two at the end. The seats are close together. There are three doors as well as a little counter space. It is a cramped room. I read a book while I waited. All of the other nine seats were taken and two people were standing. Every single person in the room was talking. The room was loud and cheerful with the noise. People talked to the person next to them and they called down the line to others. They spoke with people they knew and they spoke to the people they did not know. My book was the wrong sort of book to be reading in such cacophony. I struggled to keep my focus. I was just about to give up on reading altogether when the older man in the next seat nudged me and said “So, have you nothing to say for yourself then?”
14 October Wednesday
Another foggy morning. Every morning is foggy. It is no longer a surprise to not be able to see beyond the fence in the morning. Every morning is the same. Today there was bright sun. It was bright and it got very high in the sky before it was able to burn off the fog. Through the white emptiness around us, we could hear cars on the Dungarvan Road. It is rare to hear cars from such a distance. The sound might have been from the Knocklofty Road. The sound of cars on any road is not something we normally hear. It might be the wet surface of the road but I think it is just the strangeness of the fog. It muffles and it amplifies at the same time.
13 October Tuesday
What brand of tea do you drink? This might be the question asked the very first time a cup of tea is drunk together. Or it might not come up for a while. People are divided between being drinkers of Barry’s tea and being drinkers of Lyons tea. If you are one you rarely cross over. If your family are all Barry’s drinkers you will be a Barry’s drinker too. If your family have always been Lyons drinkers you will continue to be a Lyons drinker. The transition from loose tea in a pot to tea bags is not a much commented upon issue since almost everyone goes for the ease of tea bags these days. Which tea you drink is always important.
12 October Monday
Each time I walk up the mass path and around is a chance to collect a few more horse chestnuts. I pick up at least one at the bottom near the stream and at least one at the top near Maisie’s old house. Sometimes I collect four or five in each place but one is my minimum. I think of it as a kind of toll. There is a bowl by the back door. I put my chestnuts into the bowl before I enter the house. The bowl is filling up. Soon I will need a bigger bowl. No one but me knows that I am paying into the bowl with each circuit of the boreen.
11 October Sunday
Trying to remember when a death had occurred, I asked Tommie. I said “Wasn’t it nearly a year and a half ago?” He thought for a moment and said “No, it was last May twelve months.” However I think about it Last May Twelve Months is exactly eighteen months ago. Tommie just said the same thing in a different way.
10 October Saturday
A side plate is placed to the left of one’s dinner plate at the table. The side plate is for potato skins. Each person peels their own potatoes leaving the skins on the side plate. Some men do not peel their own potatoes but wait for it to be done for them by their wife or mother. The skinned potatoes are then ready to be eaten with butter and gravy. No one seems interested that the skin is where the fiber and the vitamins are. No one seems interested that the skins taste good.