The Last Apples of Tullaghmeelan
27 November Friday
Today we are promised an end to this crazy balmy spring like weather. I walked out early to miss the rain. We are promised rain and wind and maybe even snow in high places. We are promised the low temperatures which are normal for this time of year. Knowing it is November while marveling at the small buds appearing on trees which have not even lost all of their leaves yet is unsettling. As I write, the winds are gusting. The rain has begun. I have had to drop the latch on the top part of the kitchen door as it keeps blowing itself open.
26 November Thursday
I asked for ten stamps. The post mistress offered me the yearly Christmas bonus book of stamps. For the price of 25 stamps I could receive 26 stamps. This extra stamp is our annual gift from the government. I never refuse it.
25 November Wednesday
I went up and gathered The Last Apples of Tullaghmeelan. I took a large backpack and a big bag. I filled the bag and left it in the path. I walked through the orchard thinking that there might be some other drops off other trees but there was not one entire apple left anywhere on the trees nor in the tall grass. There were some chewed and mushy ones, but not even many of those. I went back and filled the backpack and topped up my bag from the ones on the path. There were still many left on the ground when my bag were full. I walked back down the path slowly. I could hardly move with the weight. The backpack was far too big, far too full and far too heavy. I had to stop and rest five or six times. I have gone from feeling smug and pleased with myself for getting all of this free and unexpected bounty to a slight sinking feeling as I realize that I am now stuck with the job of doing something with it.
24 November Tuesday
I walked up the boreen noting the many branches blown down by recent winds. There were a few new wiggly turns through narrow places where the places were not narrow before. A length of the path up beside Johnnie’s orchard was full of large yellow apples. They turned the path into the deadliest apple walk ever. They have fallen into a sort of gully and the gully is the path. Or the path is a gully. There was no where to put my feet down except on the apples as the undergrowth was thick on either side. It was a matter of walking on the apples or turning around. I examined the apples which were some kind of mix from Johnnie’s experiments with grafting. These had a bit of russet mixed with whatever they were. The majority of the apples were freshly fallen. They were not yet squashed or rotted or eaten by animals or insects. The taste was not great for eating but I knew they would be good for cooking. I picked up three apples and then I had to make a decision. The apples were big and there was no way I could carry more than four using my coat pockets. I could either walk back down and fetch a bag from home or I could continue on my walk and come back tomorrow. The light was dropping by the minute. I chose the walk hoping the apples would still be good for the gathering tomorrow.
23 November Monday
Everyone was wearing new shoes. A lot of the shoes did not look comfortable. Most of the shoes did not look comfortable. The newness of the shoes was evident. Everyone was wearing new coats. There were new scarves, new sweaters, new trousers and new hats. There were lots of new suitcases and every suitcase was loaded and heavy. One woman wore a bright orange coat and had a matching bright orange handbag and a small bright orange suitcase. She wrestled two enormous bright orange suitcases off the luggage round-about. It was a plane load of shoppers. They had flown off on Wednesday and caught their return flight on Sunday for a marathon of manic shopping in America. Flights are cheap in November. What was saved in airfare was spent on shopping. The entire journey was full of loud and boisterous discussion about who had shopped where and who had bought what. The women, and it was mostly women, talked to the people they were traveling with and they talked to everyone else. There was a strong air of competition. When the duty-free cart rolled along, everyone did a little bit more shopping. The frenzy and the excitement of so many new purchases was dampened as everyone walked out into the bleakness of Shannon Airport at 5.30 in the morning. There was no one to admire all of the new stuff. It was damp and dark outside and the terminal was devoid of people.