Dirty Carrots in Kanturk
21 August Tuesday
I went to an emergency meeting in the village hall last night. The meeting was called because the post office in Newcastle is threatened with closure. As is the post office in Clogheen. Hundreds of post offices in small places all over the country are closing down. There are so many closure issues affecting rural villages, not only with the post offices though they are a huge part of life. . An older person going to the post office to collect their pension is bound to meet someone they know in the shop. They might buy milk or they might buy a paper while they are there. They might not buy anything. But they will have a conversation. They cannot go to the post office without having a conversation. And by the time that person gets home they will know the story of the whole town-land. Every one of us needs our post office for all kinds of reasons. We are going to fight this. I am now on the committee.
20 August Monday
I have stopped counting raspberries. It was a ridiculous thing to do anyway. It was easy to fall into when there were so few coming ripe. They are coming far too fast for counting now. Every morning I pick some and every evening I pick more. We eat loads. I put some in the freezer. I take them to neighbours. The figs too are ripening at a rapid rate. They are ripe and unctuous and without doubt the best figs we have ever grown. They are not at all woody. They went from rock hard to squishy and wonderful within a week. There are plenty for the birds and there are plenty for us.
19 August Sunday
There is always another Tractor Run. It is a guaranteed way to earn money for a worthy cause. A long slow parade of tractors rolling through narrow lanes is a reliable draw. There are always some men happy to bring out their vintage machinery to show it off and give it a trip out in the air. It does seem an odd time of year for a Tractor Run as the farm workers are all so busy with haying and silage. The roads are already full of slow moving vehicles and machinery. The slow ones are not a problem. It is the speeding ones that are frightening. This Tractor Run is advertised to benefit a man called Haulie Murphy. I do not know Haulie Murphy, but I like his name. I like names that tell you what job a person does. Whoever Haulie Murphy is, he is obviously someone who moves a lot of things around with his tractor and trailer or with his truck. Larry Doocey could be nicknamed Haulie what with all the runs he does with his small tractor. He delivers gravel and topsoil or whatever else people need. But he is not called Haulie. He is always Larry Doocey. No nickname. And never just Larry. He is always and only Larry Doocey For years we assumed that Christy Driver was the actual name of Christy Driver. Christy was down at the bar every day occupying the exact same corner seat. But Christy Driver’s name was not Driver. We missed a party celebrating his 60th birthday. We had been invited but because we did not realize that his real name was Christy Cullinan, we did not go. We did not know whose party we had been invited to and so it was easy to forget all about it. Christy Driver is only spoken of as Christy Driver.
18 August Saturday
Today is the beginning of Heritage Week. There are activities and tours and free access to buildings and monuments all over the country. There seems to be a lot of storytelling. In Clonmel, they are combining Heritage Week with the 50 year anniversary of STAG. STAG is the South Tipperary Art Group. The idea they came up with for the day is to set up four age groups from young children to adults and a list of locations. Any amateur painter is invited to go out to one of the assigned locations to paint a picture. They are invited to create A Brand New Original Piece Of Art From Scratch In One Day between the hours of 8 am and 5.30. The paintings must be turned into the art centre by 5.30. Winners from each category will be announced next week.
17 August Friday
The fox came running around the corner of the shed. He was moving at speed. I was sitting on the bench with a cup of tea. He saw me at exactly the same moment that I saw him. He skidded in the dirt and gravel and changed direction while he skidded. There was hardly a wasted movement except maybe a little bit while his legs found their place on the ground. He was gone in seconds.
16 August Thursday
I took a full load of stuff to the dump. As I was moving back and forth between the recycling bins and my car, a woman came over to me. She told me that I looked well. I thanked her. I wondered if I knew her. I did not think I knew her. But I knew that being told I looked well had nothing to do with my health. She was telling me that I looked nice. She was telling me that I was well presented. She said she herself never knew exactly how to dress for the dump. She said the gathering up of stuff to load into the motorcar was a certain kind of activity as was the unloading. It could get a little messy. If she chose to go into town for some messages after the dump-run she liked to look maybe a bit nicer than she would if she was only going to the dump. She did not like to waste a trip to the dump without going to town too. What with the price of petrol and everything. She liked to look carefully to see what other women were wearing at the dump to help her to decide exactly how to find the balance.
15 August Wednesday
The drive back from Kerry was scary. A soft drizzle had come down. It became a fog. It was impossible to see a thing. The road was winding and narrow with steep drop-offs into the sea. There were a few tour buses crawling along full of passengers who could not see a single bit of the Ring of Kerry which is what they had come for. The drive was slow and the drive was difficult.
We reached Kenmare where we planned to have a good lunch to reward ourselves for the terrifying journey. Cars were parked all along the road entering the town. A cattle market was in full swing right in the centre. There were trailers and tractors and cows and bulls and farmers everywhere. There were a lot of tweed jackets and caps and there were a lot of rain jackets. Some sections of the streets were completely closed off. They had been transformed into big holding pens for the cattle. There were deviations added on to deviations. It was not possible to stop the car. There was no where to park anyway. Hundreds of people plus all the animals and everything under a steady downpour. We escaped as best we could which was slow. We ended up in Kanturk which is a good name but the lunch we found was dreary.
There was a man on the corner near the restaurant with a small blue car. Four young children were squeezed into the back of the car. The children were tight in and screaming and making a lot of noise. They might have been happy or they might have been miserable. It was hard to tell. A woman stood quietly near the man. He had three bunches of Dirty Carrots on the bonnet of the car. He was a huge and loud man. He kept banging the bonnet and shouting that he only had three bunches of his delicious Dirty Carrots left. He shouted that when he sold these last ones he would be able to go home and eat The Dinner. Each time he banged the bonnet more muddy soil fell off the carrots. There was no one about. It was not a busy location. I did not buy any of the carrots. I would have liked to have made a photograph of the man and his family and the carrots but I knew that if I took a photo I would be expressing more interest than I had. The man would certainly have pushed me to buy his carrots. It would have been difficult to refuse. I have marveled before about this love for Dirty Carrots. Somehow the heavy clumps of soil coated on the carrots hold great promise. The promise is that they will taste better than another carrot which is just carrying a thin easily washable amount of soil. I have never found this to be so. I find cleaning the Dirty Carrots much more work than they are worth. The sink is always full of mud and stones after the washing. A normal unwashed carrot is fine. A Dirty Carrot is not. When we left the restaurant, the car and the man and the family were gone so I assume somebody else came along and bought the remaining Dirty Carrots.