Loose Lichen Letting Go
8 September Thursday
Nellie was speaking of a man. She said he was Old and Short and Timid. She said that was enough. She said that said it all.
7 September Wednesday
Breda and I walked in the mountains. The sky was white with moisture and with fog. We were sure it would rain so we wore full waterproofs but it never rained. It just looked wet and it felt wet. We could not see any distance at all. The mountains and the hills and the horizon completely disappeared. All we saw were lots of ghost-like sheep appearing and then disappearing in the whiteness. Many had red paint on their backs but there were some with both red and blue markings. For the few minutes before the sheep disappeared in the mist, the colours looked really bright in the otherwise whited-out world. All was quiet and white and damp.
6 September Tuesday
The girl was trying to be helpful. When I asked if the eye drops were okay for people wearing contact lenses she said “Oh I am sure they are.” She said “I am after using them myself and they are wonderful for dry eyes.” I asked her if she wore contact lenses. She said “No, but I wear glasses.”
Two week ago I was in a shop and I tried on a pair of shoes which were a kind of reddish brown leather. The shoes did not fit. The woman serving me went to the back room to see if there was another pair in the correct size. She came back with an armful of boxes. She could not find my size in that shoe style so instead she pulled out every pair of red shoes that she could find. She too was trying to be helpful.
5 September Monday
The bread man delivers bread from a small truck. He does not carry cakes or biscuits or anything else. He only delivers bread. Some of the loaves are sliced and wrapped in waxed paper. Some of the loaves are just sitting on the floor or on a metal shelf. The bread delivery man has a large wooden tray which he loads up with whatever bread the shop has requested. He carries it across the street and into the shop. If it is raining there is no protection for the unwrapped bread. Lucky for the bread, it is a short walk across the street.
4 September Sunday
The first Sunday in September is the traditional day for the All-Ireland Hurling Final. This year the two teams playing were Kilkenny and Tipperary. They have been meeting each other in the finals for many years. The competition between the two counties is fierce. Everything everywhere is decorated with the respective team colours. Bunting and flags, hats and shirts, cars and buildings. I think maybe the two teams have met for the finals six times in the last nine years. Kilkenny has won six times. Some other counties have won in that time too but Tipperary has not won for nine years. There was a deep silence everywhere in the county as people were either up in Dublin or in their homes watching the match. Tipperary won. There is wild joy among the fans. The Liam McCarthy Cup is the prize and now the cup will be traveling around the county for a year. It will go to schools and to shops and to small villages and to every sort of event. It will be touched and rubbed and kissed. Many many people will have their photograph taken with The Liam McCarthy. But first there will be a huge parade and welcoming party for the team on Monday night up in Thurles. Everyone who went to the match will be there and everyone who did not get to go to the match will be there. It will be the middle of the week before things get back to normal in Tipperary.
3 September Saturday
I continue to collect and dry and glue up my pieces of lichen. Some days it is difficult to find any pieces at all. Some days I find a lot. I was certain that after last night’s wind and wild rain that the ground would be strewn with copious clumps of lichen in the undergrowth. I took a little bag ready to fill it with huge pickings. I imagined the birds scrabbling away on the branches, trying to hold on tight to stop themselves from being blown away. I imagined their feet loosening lots of lichen. I imagined Masses of Loose Lichen Letting Go. As I walked up the path I got very excited about how much I would find. If the winds and the birds did loosen lichen last night, the winds blew it far from the branches where it had been living. I failed to find a single bit in the entire length of wooded area where I was expecting such bounty. I put the little bag into my pocket and just went on with my walk.
2 September Friday
The word Fáilte is omnipresent. It is in every single bit of advertising for the country and its tourism. The official expression is Céad Míle Fáilte which translates as A Hundred Thousand Welcomes. Fáilte by itself is widely used too. It is on doormats and flowerpots and little signs. Recently I saw a postbox with NO FÁILTE in small white vinyl letters. I had to stop in order to look at it more closely because I thought that maybe some other letters had peeled off and the NO was not really NO but part of a bigger word. But in this case No means No. The man who lives inside the closed gate and up the steep drive is not very sociable. There is a long drive, many mature trees and heavy undergrowth which ensures that his house is not visible from the road. On a good day this man might be called morose. On other days he would be called A Very Private Person. I have not set eyes on him for years. I am not sure I would recognize him. He was never very friendly then and it seems he is even less interested in people now. The always closed gate would be enough to let people know that he welcomes no one but announcing NO FÁILTE like this means he really really really does not want visitors. A KEEP OUT sign would do the job. It might even be a little less harsh.