Fetching the Mail

by ericavanhorn

30 October Bank Holiday

Fetching the Mail has taken on a whole new meaning. We drive three miles down to McCarra’s shop and sit in the tiny room which used to be the Christmas Room and then was the All Year Round Gift Room. Later it returned to being a place to eat or to use the internet and the photocopier but lately it has a bunch of chairs and a few tables and a lot of merchandise which is piled up and waiting to be shelved somewhere else in the shop. We use the signal to take in the mail and to send out some mail. Our mobile phones do not work in the shop but they do work outside the shop. At home nothing works yet. We make two Fetch the Mail trips to the shop each day.

29 October Sunday

Maud had the whole day to herself. She told me that Peter had gone off to Chase a Churn. He drove to Gorey which is more than a three hour drive. He said it was worth it because it is not easy to find a butter churn with its top still intact. He would not be home till late. Maud was pleased to have the time to putter around and to just do what came into her head rather than doing things that needed to be done or demanded to be done. She told me that she had bought a lovely bunch of organic celery in the market. It had lots of leafy foliage and a glorious smell but she knew there was nothing at all to eat from it. The stalks were too thin to be worth anything. I wondered why she had bought it. She hung the celery in her window with a piece of pink twine. The sight of the celery hanging there pleased her enormously and she was glad to have had the time to do something like this with her afternoon. I forgot to ask if the celery was hung with the leafy part up or the leafy part down.

28 October Saturday

Pat Looby loaned me a copy of WASTING TIME ON THE INTERNET by Kenneth Goldsmith. It has been sitting around for a month or more. Now that there is no internet here and spending time on the internet is not even vaguely a possibility, I think it might be as good a time as any to read this book. The promised modem arrived but now the mast from which it receives its signal in Ardfinnan is down. So we remain without the internet. We are without our mobile phones too. We are reduced to using the landline and the dictionary. I have become accustomed to using my phone for everything. I check the weather with my phone. I am out of the habit of listening to the radio for this information and I no longer remember when to tune in in order to catch a weather forecast. Small things have become big things.

27 October Friday

The new modem is coming today. I do not understand it all but Simon spent a lot of the day yesterday talking to Winnie Hickey. Our internet has come from a system of bouncing connections all down the country. The last bounce before the bounce to us was off the roof of Winnie and Michael Hickey. This system has worked well for years. We could always phone the Hickeys if anything was malfunctioning with our internet. So that is what Simon did today. First he talked to the internet company, then he spoke to Winnie and then he went back to several different people at the company. No one gave him the same answers, Winnie assured him that no matter what they said the problem was nothing to do with the hurricane. She said that was their easy excuse but she said things had gone wrong a few days before the hurricane. We would have believed the man if she had not told us otherwise. The guy was trying to pretend it was the hurricane but then suddenly he said a tree grew up in the way. Simon said it was not possible for a tree to grow that fast and exactly in a position to be blocking the connection especially not at this time of year. The guy on the phone was waffling. He sort of implied without saying directly that they had sold off part of the company and the people who bought it could not be bothered with our small area of bouncing connections. Winnie is already signed up for a new service. She recommended that Simon do the same. That is why he ordered this modem which is to arrive today. I am confused by all of it.

26 October Thursday

There are many freshly cut trees everywhere. Big and sturdy stone walls have been knocked down by falling trees. Branches have been thrown into enormous piles to be dealt with later. The bright look of sawdust and exposed timber stands out from all of the gloomy grey light. Other trees that fell where they stood have huge ripped apart trunks. In some places it is difficult to remember how things looked before the storm.

25 October Wednesday

We missed the hurricane. It was the biggest natural disaster in years and years. We missed all of the problems and the dangers and the excitement. I felt a little left out to be far away. I still feel like that. Our own house was fine. We did not lose any slates and we did not find much damage except for branches and one plum tree that was blown down. And of course, the leak in the roof has let in more water, but that could have happened with any normal rain storm. It did not need a hurricane. We have been getting reports from everyone we speak to. Some people lost electricity for a week or ten days while their neighbours next door did not. In many cases the neighbours with electricity have filled their freezer with the food from the freezer of people who lost their electricity. Tom Cooney’s galvanized roof flew off his hay barn and landed two fields away. It could easily have cut off someone’s head. PJ and Fiona felt it landed too near to their house. They were fearful that it might take off again in a fresh gust of wind. Tom Cooney told me that he is waiting for the insurance company to assess the damage but he knows he will have to pay at least part of the repair himself. He said they are backed up to their teeth with claims. He is in despair as he feels the entire world to be in a perilous state. He said his roof is just a small thing. The Mass Path is impassable. Trees and branches are down. I could not walk far enough to find out if the problem continues all the way up the path or if it is just the first hundred metres past the stream.

24 October Tuesday

There were two Americans behind us on the bus. They were in their mid-sixties. A man and a woman. I think they were in their mid-sixties. I did not look closely because to do so I would have had to turn right around to stare directly at them. They were with two more Americans, also a man and a woman. The second couple were sitting in the seat across the aisle. I think these two were a little older. Maybe they were in their late sixties. Maybe they were the same age. They all had southern accents but I could not decide exactly from which part of the south. They spoke quietly. The two behind us discussed what to capture on their camera from the moving bus. The woman was beside the window and she had a proper camera rather than just a camera phone. We passed a field of sheep. The man said, “Get the sheep. Get the sheep. Get the sheep.” She snapped and snapped. He said, “Get the sheep. Keep shooting.” He was not bossy with his orders. He was just excited. There were only about twelve sheep in the field and the bus was moving pretty fast. The sheep were widely spread out so maybe she had enough time to photograph each one, but I do not think so. A little later, he said, “Get the tree.” She did. Then they discussed the tree.

Sometimes the four people spoke together. At one point, the woman across the aisle asked how long they had stayed in one place. They all agreed it had been six nights in one place and three nights in the next place. They joked about the woman updating her diary. Except for this interchange, each couple mostly just discussed things quietly between themselves.

I was not eavesdropping intentionally but I was exhausted from the long overnight flight and I was too tired to read and too tired to even fall asleep. The gentle excitement of photography from the moving bus was just enough to keep my interest. As the bus rolled down the hill into Cahir, the woman behind me was rapidly snapping the river and the weir and a heron which all looked beautiful in the sunlight. The couple on the other side of the bus were both taking pictures of Cahir Castle. We stood up to get our things together in anticipation of getting off the bus. Neither couple turned to look out the opposite side of the bus. The ones looking at the castle did not see the river and the ones looking at the river did not see the castle. Neither couple called over to the other couple to point out what there was to be seen out the other side of the bus.

I have been thinking of these people since I got home, and as I have drifted in and out of jet lag. I am hoping that at the end of each day of their travels they switch cameras and look at what was available to be seen out the other side of the bus. That way they can have a more complete picture of where they have been.

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