The Journal

Erica Van Horn – Living Locally

Month: March, 2016

She’s Happy Out


31 March Thursday

I walked up the Mass Path and around today.  The trees and branches were still difficult both going over and under. I did more clambering and crawling and squeezing than I would have liked.  Simon came with me and he brought work gloves for the hands and knees part of the crawling. He is not fond of putting his hands into the mud just to go for a walk.  The moss on the rocks was still slippery.  The sun was out and the wind had dropped.  The radio is giving a straight nine days of rain so this sun felt like something we must savour. I felt as good to be walking as I felt awful the other day. We devoured that last batch of wild garlic immediately, I came home with another big bunch today.  My hands smell of the leaves now. Next time I shall carry a little bag so I can fetch a larger supply.

30 March Wednesday

She is Happy Out.  This is an everyday expression.  It means she is totally Happy.  She is as Happy as can be.  She is completely and utterly Happy.

29 March Tuesday

Jim told me that he had cut a fine load of timber for this past winter. He had cut it and he had stacked it and he had it in the right order for use.  He had the oldest and driest wood ready in the easiest position to get at. But this was the winter when the price of oil was way down. It was well down. Jim’s job is delivering oil so he knows exactly when the price is good.  He did not allow his family one single wood fire all winter long. He did not even allow a fire at Christmas. His wife has not forgiven him for that. He kept the oil heat going. He swore that his wood would last to burn another winter but the price of oil would go up and up and it would not be low like this probably ever again. Already he is right. The price of the oil has risen and he still has near enough a full tank at the cheap price. Jim is feeling smug. I am not the first person who has been told about Jim’s oil and Jim’s firewood.

27 March Easter Sunday

I feel depleted by this cold or virus or whatever it is.  Today the sun has been bright. The wind was cold but I decided I would feel better if I took a walk. I decided that I needed a walk in order to start feeling stronger.  By the time I struggled up the Mass Path and crawled under the tree which fell down and clambered over a few big branches which had blown down, I was already pretty tired.  The rocks were slippery with moss.  The walking was hard work. An abundance of wild garlic cheered me up and I picked as many leaves as I could hold in my hand.  By the time I reached the tarmacadam road I was exhausted and feeling dizzy.  That was the moment when I should have turned around and struggled back down the path and over and under the trees and branches and gone home.  But I did not do that.  I continued all the way Around.  By the time Oscar rushed out to meet me, I was considering ringing and asking for a lift home.  I was so very weak.  Oscar walked me the rest of the way.  He stayed close. He licked my hand, the one not holding the leaves. He knew I was not right.  I did not feel better for the fresh air and the walk.  I felt terrible. I arrived home still clutching my handful of wild garlic. I thanked Oscar at the door and I went inside, put my leaves into a pitcher of water, and fell back into bed.  I slept for three straight hours.

26 March Saturday

Empty Saturday.  I have never heard this expression before today. I do not know if it was made up by the man who I heard say it or if it is used every year. Maybe I am the only one who does not know it.  Today seems to be a gap in all of these days involved with Easter. They seem to fill the days of the week, even if not consecutively.  Fat Tuesday. Ash Wednesday. Maundy Thursday. Good Friday.  Easter Sunday.  Easter Monday.  Today is just a day when no religious events happen. I am not sure if the Empty means that it is simply a day without a definition in the Easter rituals.  I am not sure if the Empty is a good thing or if it implies a sense of something lacking.

If it was any better it would be wrong

24 March Thursday

My friend Marianne will celebrate her birthday on the 26th. Today is the 24th.  There is no way I can get a birthday card to her. Ordinarily something sent today should reach someone elsewhere in the Republic by the next day.  Tomorrow is Good Friday.  The country is closed for business on Good Friday.  The next day is Saturday. We never have postal deliveries on a Saturday. That has nothing to do with Easter.   Then there is Easter Sunday followed by Easter Monday, which is another holiday. If I rush to put a card into the post for Marianne today, she might receive it on Tuesday the 29th, but most likely, what with the holiday and all, it will not arrive in her post box until Wednesday which is the 30th. Wicklow is a two and three-quarter hour drive from here.  In the number of days it would take a card to get to her I could walk there and deliver it in person. I am still struggling with this cold.  I do not feel up to walking to Wicklow.  I do not even feel up to driving to Wicklow.  I do not even feel up to making a card. I think I shall simply make a phone call on the day.

23 March Wednesday

A fox walked by the window this morning.  I was standing right there as he strolled along looking left and right.  I was only a few feet from him but he was oblivious. I was inside and he was outside. He was a big fox.  He was much bigger than the young one who was on the table the other day.  This fox was a deep dark red colour and his tail had a dark almost black tip at the end. This fox was big and muscular.  This fox sauntered.

22 March Tuesday

Ned was well pleased with his work.  He said “If it was any better it would be wrong.”

21 March Monday

I have been up and down from my bed for the last three days. Mostly I have been sleeping.  This cold has completely knocked me out. It is a terrible one.  At one point this morning, I got up and walked through the house. I was only going to the bathroom and fetching more water for myself. There was a lot to see.  Joe’s cows were in the field. Looking out the kitchen door, I saw two pheasants pecking in the gravel.  Through another window, a young fox was up on the table eating stale bread with his head thrown back.  Out the big windows the robins and tits were clustered around eating peanuts from the hanging feeders. Just above them, the white farm cat was sunning herself on the Galtee tower. The birds did not know that the cat was so close and the cat did not know the birds were so close. They were all busy with their own activities.  It all seemed to be going on.  The sun was bright and daffodils are blooming. It is very cold but everything looks like spring. I was pleased to see all of the creatures out and about but I was most happy to crawl back into my bed.

17 March Patrick’s Day

It was late afternoon when we stopped at the shop on our way to take a walk.  The village held the deep silence of a bank holiday. There was no one around but the shop was open. A table just inside the door had various Patrick’s Day decorations as well as thematic pies and cakes for sale.  Everything was green and orange. The table looked pretty well gone over. I think most everyone who wanted to buy something for the national day had already done so.  A plastic rectangular container was half full of water.  In the morning it must have been full of shamrock for people to pin on to a coat or a lapel. I do not know if the tiny shamrock bunches were being given away or if they were free.  At this end of the day, the remaining greenery was waterlogged and sitting under water in the bottom of the plastic container. It was not even floating.