4 December Monday
Simon and I spent an hour or so with clippers and saws trying to work our way up the mass path. We had not gotten too far when we reached a fallen tree. It was too big for our little saws. It needed a chain saw and since we did not have a chain saw, we back-tracked and went through Cooney’s wood where tree felling has been going on for weeks and weeks now. We struggled up a steep banking, got into the field and walked along the side parallel to the path. A small fox run at the top of the hill allowed us to slip back down onto the path. We were both scratched and bleeding from the pushing and cutting through brambles and branches. We had thick clods of mud encasing both the top and the bottom of our boots from the field. The very sticky soil made walking hard. The soil is called Clay. No one calls it dirt. Dirt implies excrement. Clay is what fills the fields. The way it clumped around our boots made our feet heavy and awkward. We staggered down the road with clay falling off at intervals. At the fold in the land near Ballynamudagh, Oscar came rushing out to greet us and he walked with us all the home. With sunset at about quarter past four we just made it before dark.
3 December Sunday
I saw Mary at the market yesterday. She is the Mary I usually see at the Farmers Market. I do not think I have ever seen her anywhere else. She is the Mary who loves Edvard Grieg. She has traveled to Norway to sit on Grieg’s bench. She and Anne baked cakes and pies and scones for the market for at least six years. They also took baking orders for special occasions. They had a little mobile stall from which they sold their wares. The stall was small and high off the ground. It meant that they were standing way up above their customers. The cakes were at the level of the top of my head. I could never see what was available. I had to ask. Mary’s pear and almond tart was a great favourite. Anne’s husband arrived early each Saturday morning and got the stall backed in and level and secure and then he went home and came back later with Anne and her baked goods. The two women retired a few years ago. Anne and Mary stopped selling at the market and I have never seen Anne again. Mary comes to the market every week. She swears she has never baked another thing from that day to this. When I saw her today she looked a bit lost. Maybe a bit naked. Then I realized that she was wearing no glasses. She too had her cataracts done this year and she has had a bad time since then with infections. I asked how her eyes are now and she said they are terrific. She told me they are so good that she can see A Sparrow On Top Of Galtymore.
2 December Saturday
I went down to the post office yesterday afternoon to catch the last post before Monday. There were cars everywhere. It was the wrong time of day for a funeral. Funerals are always at 11 am. This was a wedding and everyone was just leaving the church after the service as I arrived. There were cars parked everywhere all the way up to the bridge and there were people all over. The men were all wearing suits and ties and looking smart. The women and girls were all completely underdressed. Everyone seemed to be dressed for a wedding in the middle of summer. There were lots of spaghetti strapped dresses and bare legs with fake tan and high heeled sandals. It was a bright and sunny day but the temperature was 2 degrees. It was nearly freezing and in my many layers and my wool hat I was still feeling the cold. These women must have been nearly dead. I saw a few hats but they were summery wedding hats not wooly cold weather hats. I saw one little white furry cape that covered someone’s shoulders and came halfway down her upper arms. The shop was full of people laughing and talking and getting warm. They were getting cash and cigarettes and talking about what a lovely ceremony it had been. The wedding was for David John and his girlfriend. I do not know her. I do not even know her name. They have been together for maybe seven years and they have two children. People save up for years to have a wedding. They are more apt to buy a house than to have a wedding. That is the current order of things. DJ is Rose’s son. She had opened the bar for an hour before the wedding and it was going to be open for two hours after the service. That is why people were in the shop getting some cash. People like to drink before a wedding and they like to drink after a wedding. Two buses were going to come after the two hours to collect everyone and take them down to Dungarvan for the party and the Afters. Later in the night, or in the early morning, the buses would make a few trips to bring everyone home again and deliver them all to their houses.
1 December Friday
We spent a lot of the morning looking for an apple corer. We knew we did not own one. We were looking for something that might work the same way. I texted Breda. She did not have one. I texted Siobhan. She did not have one but she met us for a walk and brought a potato peeler thing which she thought might do the job. We bumped into Biddy at the graveyard. She did not have one either but she remembered that she used to have one. She could not recall the last time she even needed an apple corer. There was not a corer for sale at the shop. Kieren found a short piece of pipe with a sharp end in the hardware shop. The pipe had been part of some shelving unit. We decided that might do the job. It was the best solution so far and in the end it worked beautifully.
30 November Thursday
The pumpkin rescued from the ditch was too old to be edible. One side started to rot so I cut it open. The flesh had gone all spongy. I think it had been frozen and thawed one time too many. I scraped out the seeds and dried them in the oven with a bit of oil. They are delicious. The pumpkin is in the compost heap.
28 November Tuesday
We walked up the small road past Tommie’s and met Michael at Middlequarter. He thought we were walking toward the waterfall and he warned us that it was wickedly muddy and slippery up there right now. We knew that to be true so we said we would wait for another day to do that walk. He told us that Rose’s mother MaryAnn swore that the waterfall was a Tried and Proven cure for alcoholics. If any man went and stood up under the rushing water at The Gash he would be cured of his drinking addiction. She used to tell this to anyone who would listen as she stood behind the bar serving drinks. After a bit of laughing, Michael said goodbye. He was on his way to the stream just below to rinse off his Wellington boots. He had been with his cows and he had muck and hay and mud coated almost to the top of the boots. He said he did not want to sit into his car with all of that still on his boots.