12 January Thursday
Snowdrops have been pushing up daily. In the last few days they have been appearing all over the place. They seem to be everywhere and many are in places where I do not remember snowdrops. They have multiplied and they are forming a blanket over the lawn and through the beds. Not one snowdrop has blossomed yet. They are just getting themselves ready. It has been a gloomy and bitterly cold day. A little rain has fallen. The sun has been out and bright but only for brief moments. The wind has been strong and noisy all day. Some snow blew around for a short time but it was never enough to settle on anything. An all weather day. On a day like today, the snowdrops make me feel hopeful. I have made each trip up and down to the barn as quickly as possible. As I leave the house or go back down to the barn I rush across the wet grass with my shoulders hunched and a wool hat pulled down low. I took off for another rapid journey after lunch and stopped short when I saw sheep in the grass between me and the barn. The sheep were surprised to see me. I was surprised to see them. I counted six. They ran to get under the fence into Joe’s field to distance themselves from me. Joe does not keep any sheep. Neither does the other Joe. I made inquiries by phone. They are not sheep belonging to Donal. Donal no longer keeps sheep. Maybe they belong to Paul. I went to the village with the post and bumped into Tommie. I told him about the sheep and he was as confused as I was. He knows for a fact that all the farmers with fields around us are cattle farmers. He immediately asked what colour faces the sheep had. I told him that there were two with black faces, and two with white faces. I told him I had not really paid attention and I did not know what colour the other two were. He was disgusted with my lack of attention to detail. The two with black faces had horns. I was pleased to be able to tell him that. Tommie was certain that whoever owned those sheep would come looking for them once he knew they were missing. When I got back home the sheep were still in Joe’s field. They had moved far up the hill near to Scully’s wood. They were almost out of sight. They had not returned to this side of the fence. I inspected my snowdrops and was glad to see that the sheep had neither eaten them nor trampled them too much. If it had been cows there would have been a terrible mess but even fat sheep are quite light on their feet.
11 January Wednesday
Oscar joins us if we walk the road near his house. He hears our voices or our footfalls and he comes rushing down his drive and out around the corner. He walks along the short length of road until we get to the turnoff for the boreen. Most times he continues with us and walks all the way to the house. Lately, he has taken to turning around and returning to his house when we leave the road. It might be that he is getting old or it might be that he is just getting lazy. He is a bit fat in that way that labradors often get fat. When he walks in the road Oscar does not pay much attention to the cars. He does not chase them but he does little to move out of their way. Today a car slowed right to stop while I attempted to convince Oscar to move out of the way. The motorist opened his window and shouted at me to get my dog under control. I told him that this was not my dog. He went on for a while about hitting a dog and the damage it might do to his car. I told him that this was not my dog. He said money was tight enough in January without replacing car parts. I told him that this was not my dog. He sputtered on a bit longer about this and that and then he apologized. He said “I failed to wish you a Happy New Year. That was rude of me.” I answered, “And Many Happy Returns.” He rolled up his window and drove away. I have never seen this man before.
10 January Tuesday
Few is the word used to define a quantity. It there are a crowd of people or animals or things they will be described as A Good Few. Or A Fair Few. No one ever says A Lot when they could say A Fair Few. And if someone sneaks something by without anyone seeing or knowing about it the comment will be “….and few would be any the wiser.”
9 January Monday
The woman is a strange and timid woman. If she sees us walking towards her she sometimes tries to change direction with her two dogs. One of her dogs is a Jack Russell and the other is a sheep dog. She holds them tight on their leads and never lets them run loose even in the big open fields. I think she is shy. She is skittish. I see her often. We are not strangers. If I say good morning or hello she rarely responds. She looks at the ground. This woman is not old. But she acts and moves like an old woman. Today we were walking up the track approaching the big shed. The shed is made of corrugated metal. The shed is huge and high. It is maybe three stories high. It has three closed sides. One long side is open to the weather. The shed is stacked to the top with bales of hay. As we approached we could hear the dogs barking like mad. Even with all of the hay which might have muffled the sound, the metal walls and ceiling amplified the noise. The metal made the wild barking much louder and much wilder. As we reached the open side of the shed we saw the woman crouched down low far back between the hay bales. She was squeezed into a narrow space with the two dogs held close to her. They were barking like crazy. She was looking down and holding tight on the leads. We did not say hello. We just walked past as though we had not noticed her and her dogs. I think that is what she wanted.
7 January Saturday
It is not everyday someone brings you a tea cosy. It is a very special day indeed when someone brings you a tea cosy. I have never had anyone arrive with a tea cosy. Niamh not only brought the tea cosy but she knit it herself. This tea cosy is the first tea cosy I have ever owned. I am especially pleased with the little turn-up at the bottom. The tea in the pot stays warmer and I am sure it tastes better.