Wild Garlic

by ericavanhorn

17 April Monday

It is still dry.  Nights are cold and mornings are chilly.  Some days get warm but mostly the wind keeps things from warming up. I walked through Joe’s fields carefully trying to step around the lumpy mashed down hoofprints of the cows and in between the cow pats.  Under the fence and through another field. Under another fence and through another field.  I went through four fields and then got onto the dirt track which is just for tractors and cows.  It is rocky. Between the hoof indents and the stone it is all rough walking. The only place where it was wet was right down in the hollow where there is no where else for water to go. I think the water and mud there just came from a leaky water pipe leading to a drinking tough. Everywhere things look green and lush. Nothing looks dry but all conversations keep coming back to the lack of rain.

15 April Saturday

She is a very shaky elderly woman.  I do not know her name but she comes to the market every Saturday. She has been getting more fragile in the last few years.  Today Jim mentioned the lack of rain and she launched into a long tirade about the problems of the dry land. She quickly worked herself into a rage.  The grass was not growing and the cows were not making enough milk and once their bodies got into the habit of making less milk they would not easily return to making the amount of milk that their bodies should be making.  The variations of this problem went on for twenty minutes and then she stopped talking abruptly and she walked away.

There is some sort of big Easter family event being set up for Easter Sunday and Monday. Right at the edge of the farmers market there are suddenly toilets set up for the public. Two for women and two for men.  Each cubicle has a little sink included. They will not be there by next week.

14 April Friday

Today is Good Friday. There have been all the usual discussions on the radio, in the papers and over the counter. It seems certain that this will be the last year when the Good Friday Alcohol Ban is in effect. After ninety years, the government is passing something soon and apparently without much resistance to say that none of it matters any more. Bars and restaurants and shops will be able to sell and to serve alcohol. People are already bemoaning the passing of this outdated law and it has not yet come up for a vote. For years the Thursday night before Good Friday has seen packed pubs and shops selling loads of drink. The idea seemed to be that if people were told they could not drink they would do everyhting they could to make sure that they did drink. A bit of it was about defying authority and a bit was about the joy of the forbidden. It was well known that people could drink in hotel bars if they were registered guests or if they knew the bartender. And with a ticket to travel the bars in railway stations or airports were another possible drinking place. I just learned that the Dublin Dog Show, formerly held over Easter weekend, was another place where drink was served but only to people who had dogs in the competitions. It became the norm to borrow a dog for the day if you did not own one and to take it along with you just to have a place to sit and drink. Boring and a bit confusing for the dogs. Normal access to alcohol will make the country a little bit more like everywhere else but no doubt the stories of outwitting the ban will continue for a good many years. Poor Rose.  Christmas Day and Good Friday have been the only two days of the year when she could sleep late.

13 April Thursday

It cannot be very long since the first swallow arrived but I cannot remember seeing it.  Already the swallows seem to be back with such a lot of busy swooping that I cannot remember them not being here. Some people mark the first swallow on their calendar so that they can check this years arrival with last years arrival and maybe with the last four or five years of arrivals but even though I do not usually mark the day I do tend to remember the first one I saw in a year.

12 April Wednesday

Michael was rung by the hospital. A woman informed him that he was still on the waiting list for an electro-cardiogram. He was asked if he was happy to still be on the waiting list. He said he was happy to wait. He then spent two days fussing about the phone call and the question. Of course he would rather not be waiting. Of course he would rather the electro-cardiogram be done and over with. He worried out loud and he worried by himself. Finally he rang back and he spoke to the same woman. He said, “Maybe I did not really understand your question.” He said, “If I am not happy to be on the waiting list, what is the alternative?” She said, “There isn’t one.”

11 April Tuesday

Jer informed me that it is common knowledge that a pregnant woman never enters a graveyard. It may be common knowledge but it is new to me. Even if a woman’s own father has died she will not enter the graveyard for his burial. She will be at the funeral but not at the burial. It is something to do with not letting Death and Life touch. But a tiny baby can be taken into a graveyard for a burial with no worries. Once there, the baby will have a tiny clump of the soil for the burial plot put on him or her, just above the heart and underneath the bib. For a baby this is good protection.

10 April Monday

There is a curtain at the kitchen door. During the day it is pulled over to the left side. It is tied out of the way with a wrinkled blue ribbon which I always intend to replace but I never do. At night I close the curtain because the stable door is a homemade door. It was once a regular door but Simon cut it in half and made it into a double opening door. It is draughty. That is not the fault of the top and bottom parts of the door fitting. They are pretty snug. The sides are a little less tight fitting than is normal. In the winter and on any cold windy day there is a breeze coming through the cracks. The full length curtain pulled across the door at night keeps a lot of wind out. Perhaps it keeps the heat in. I made the curtain. It has long loops of fabric sewn onto the top edge. The idea of the loops was that they be generous so they would be easy to slide across the wooden dowel which I used as a curtain rod.   But it is not easy to slide the fabric across the wood. Maybe metal would have been better. It might have been more slippery. I have to use both hands to tug the curtain open in the morning. I have to use both hands while I stand on tip-toes. Sometimes it is just too hard to get the loops sliding across and I am not able to stretch myself tall. I think rubbing a waxy candle along the wood might make for easier sliding. I think of it and I always mean to do it later. It is quicker to drag out the little two step ladder. The curtain was supposed to be a simple thing. Instead it takes two hands and a big stretch. Tip-toes. Step ladder. Open in the morning and close at night. Some people have doors that fit tight and do not let in the wind. But I do not.  This is where I live.  I live here and nothing is easy.

9 April Sunday

More and more often I find Old Oscar lying across the road. When he hears or sees a car or a tractor he gets up slowly and carefully.  He is older than Young Oscar but he is not an old dog.  He is not stiff and slow.  He can run as well as any dog. He gets up slowly to show that he does not like being interrupted.  He wants others to wait. His deliberate careful movements give me time to think about his way of being in charge.

8 April Saturday

Things are dry. There has been no rain. Or there has been a bit of rain here and there but it is never a soaking rain. It has not been the kind of rain to water the crops. The dirt tracks across Joe’s fields are dry. There is mud up the path even though no where else is wet. A little spring half way up the hill feeds into the mass path so it is always muddy and mossy. Walking up makes me look down. I have to keep track of the slippery stones and the squishy muddy places. I have to watch where I put my feet. At this time of year it is good to be looking down anyway because there are so many new things to see. Each day new plants come up. There are primroses, wild garlic, violets lots of violets, several kinds of ferns, wild irises and many broken birds eggs. The eggs are open and the small birds are gone. I want to gather up the different shades of blue halves but unlike lichen or horse chestnuts, I know the shells will smash in my pocket before I get home. Instead I scoop up big handfuls of wild garlic on each trip. The white blossoms are starting to open so a handful of garlic leaves now looks more than ever like a lovely bouquet. If I meet someone out on the road, I am asked what it is.   I explain and describe its many pleasurable uses. No one looks enthused or interested. Without exception, I offer them the wild garlic. When I offer my handful to anyone, they accept it but I do not think they want it. A mistrust of food found free in nature is ongoing. People are accepting it to be polite to me. They might not even put it into water when they get home. They probably drop it on the side of the road as soon as I am out of sight.

 

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