13 March Monday
There are daffodils in bud and daffodils in blossom. Daffodils are everywhere. There is the promise of more daffodils to come even while enjoying the early ones. Gorse. Forsythia. Lesser Celandine. Primroses are beginning to bloom down the boreen. Every blossom is a yellow blossom. Things are burgeoning. Nests are being built. The mornings are noisy with birdsong.
12 March Sunday
The moon is full. It popped up and sat right on the edge of the hill for a long time before it rose any higher. Now it is full and bright and high in the sky. Tonight will never be all the way dark.
11 March Saturday
I bought the first rhubarb of the year from Keith and Jim at the Farmers Market. I was looking forward to preparing it and eating it. I poked through the ginger in the supermarket. There were only a few scruffy pieces and they were shriveled. I was picking through to find the best one I could find. The young man whose father ran the supermarket for many years saw me. He has taken over the running of the market from his father and he is eager to be helpful. He loves his work. He showed me that there were some packages of organic ginger. The organic ginger looked fresh and firm but it was expensive and there was an awful lot of it in one packet. I told him that I only wanted one piece today. I told him that I just wanted some ginger to cook with the first rhubarb. I said I would keep sorting through the loose bits. He came over to help me in the looking. We found a few small pieces which met my approval. He put them into a little bag and then he threw in a few more. He said, Now put those right into your pocket. There will be no charge. This is between me and yourself.
10 March Friday
The path up to Johnnie’s has been cleared. There are no longer horizontal trees to duck underneath. There are no more fallen branches to crawl under. The brambles are trimmed way back. There is still a muddy uphill climb over slippery mossy rocks, but now I can stretch my arms straight out from side to side before I touch anything. It is now a big airy tunnel rather than a narrow tunnel. It will get overgrown again soon but for now it feels like a whole new place to walk.
9 March Thursday
Breda and I walked over the small unevenly shaped fields behind Jimmie and Esther’s farm. They no longer keep cows themselves so they rent out the fields to another farmer. He grazes his cows there in the months of good weather. In the winter Breda is free to walk out with the dogs with no worry about electric fences or climbing over gates or meeting cows or bulls. There are a lot of fields. I lost track of how many there were. Some of them are deep with wet. They are boggy after all the rain. None of the fields are large. They are not the kind of fields where the ditches have been torn out to make large expanses easy for big modern equipment to get in and move around. There is no ploughing nor planting in these fields. Perhaps they are fertilized a bit with a small tractor just to make sure that the grass keeps growing. Cattle move from field to field to eat and eat all the grass until they eat everything and then they get moved to another field. These fields are never flattened by heavy equipment rolling over them so they are uneven with cow hoof prints and the pushing up of gnarly tree roots. Walking though these lumpy fields in the sunshine was a pleasure even while it was hard work. There were no cows. We saw a buzzard, a fox, and a pheasant.
8 March Wednesday
Dawn lives downhill from a dairy farm. She rents her house from the farmer. Water in the house is at the mercy of the farmer and the needs of his cows. The water supply for the house and the water supply for the cows both come from the same well. During morning and evening milking times there is no water in Dawn’s house because the farmer must wash the milking parlour and flush out the milking equipment. The farmer calls this Cow Time. His cows have priority over his tenants. If his cows are grazing in one of the fields which is lower than the house, water gets pumped down to them for drinking. Then there is not enough pressure for it to go back uphill to the rented house. Keeping water stored in 5 litre bottles is an all year round job at Dawn’s house. The filled-up bottles of water are kept in the shed so that there is always water even when there is no water.