A Dead Fox.

by ericavanhorn

3 October Wednesday

I was interested in the yellow and grey paint job. I took a photograph just to think about the colours. Since I have had the photograph to look at I am more interested in the two doors side by side. It is a tiny house. I have a lot of questions about the doors. I have no answers.

4 October Thursday

The woman at the counter was grumbling. She said, “Sure, we still have plenty of tourists about. The coaches arrive several times a day to drop them off to see the castle. The trouble is that at this time of year, they are all the ones on the budget tours. It’s always the same with them. They say ‘We’ll have one scone and we’ll share a cup of coffee.’ And that is when you realise there are three of them doing the sharing.”
She kept grumbling and repeating to herself: “It is not my idea of a holiday, I can tell you that.”

5 October Friday

It has been a Two Wake Week. Two people died. They were both elderly and they were both members of large farming families. In both cases, a field was mown and cleared and ropes were put up to define the area. Neighbours were out on the road in High-Visibility vests directing cars through and into the parking field. The entire community turns up on these occasions. The deceased is Reposing At Home. We each walk into the house and we shake hands with all of the members of the immediate family. I am sorry for your loss. Or -I am sorry for your troubles. We repeat these phases again and again. In one house the man was laid out in a coffin. In the other house, the woman was in her bed. They both looked peaceful. People cross themselves or bow their head for a few moments in front of the deceased. The person is at home surrounded by their families and now there are these 5 or 6 hours for the neighbours and friends and relations to come to pay their respects and to provide a special kind of respectful company. There are pots of tea and there are sandwiches and cakes. Visitors can choose to have a cup of tea or they can just continue on out of the house. They can continue with their day. There is a steady flow of people arriving and leaving. We all nod and acknowledge one another. We see people we have not seen for a long time. We also see the people we see every single day. Sometimes the deceased is removed to the church at the end of the wake for a mass and then they spend the night alone in the church. Sometimes they stay in their own house for one last night and then they are taken to the church in the morning in time for the funeral. This journey to the church is often full of small detours as the person who has died is slowly driven over the familiar roads which have been a part of their everyday life and landscape for a long time or forever. Each family makes their choices about these beautiful and quiet rituals.

6 October Saturday

A person stepping off a curb unexpectedly flails about to hold themselves up. Or someone falling in a hole and losing their balance catches themselves after a few wild steps and does not fall. That is what I was thinking as I saw the cow. I was driving down the road and Tomás’s cows were ahead of me. They took up the whole road. I slowed to a roll and watched them. There was nothing else I could do anyway. They had been milked and they were on the way to their next pasture. Suddenly one cow made the kind of wild struggle to stand up that I just tried to describe in human terms. She nearly fell but caught herself before she slammed into the stone wall. I assumed she had caught her hoof in a hole. Then she did it again. And again. The young helper who was driving the quad bike behind the herd to keep the cows moving. Tomás himself was up ahead in his truck. The boy must have phoned him. Within seconds he was there and out of the truck and moving toward the cow. He separated her from the rest of the herd, but it was not easy. She jerked away from him and fell to her knees. She could not get up but then she did get up and fell sort of sideways again. It was dreadful to watch. I had tears pouring down my face. It was awful to see her helplessness and confusion. The car stalled out. I could do nothing but watch. Tomás came near to the car. He looked like he wanted to cry too. He said “Meningitis.” He said it quietly. He said, “Her mind cannot tell her body what to do.” He said, “I must get her to the vet.” He followed while the cow staggered and fell and staggered and fell all the way up the road toward his farm buildings. I watched their slow progress in my rear view mirror while I waited for the rest of the herd to plod along until they got to where they were going. I wept as I watched. I weep again every time I think about it.

7 October Sunday

Oscar walks with me every day now. He walks with me every day that I use the Mass Path. He meets me two thirds of the way around. He meets me just as I pass Sharon’s cottage. The cottage Sharon lived in was The Murder Cottage but since she lived there, she gently made us all adjust to calling it The White Cottage. She painted several small signs to get everyone used to the new name. Sharon has moved away because the cottage was put up for sale and her lease was up. I think she was not offered the option of staying. She was sad to leave. She has gone to live with her mother which is hard for her but good for her mother. Her mother is not at all well and her father died recently. Oscar still spends a lot of time at Sharon’s house. He is waiting for Sharon to come back. He is waiting for her two dogs to come back. One of Sharon’s dogs died suddenly just after she moved but of course Oscar does not know that. He is waiting for both Emma and Shay. He lies down across the road and he waits. Some cars do not know that this is his regular resting and waiting place. He is not quick to move off the road. I worry that he will be killed but so far he does what he wants and all vehicles accommodate him. He is happy to see me on foot and then he is happy to walk up the road and down the boreen with me. Oscar is always happy. He wheezes a lot when he walks now. Maybe he has asthma. Maybe it is not asthma. Maybe it is just age.
Today we were both startled by the bull in Joe’s field. The bull is a different bull than the one that was in the field for most of the summer. That one was brown and white. This one is big and black. This one was rushing back and forth and stopping suddenly with a sort of skid and turning around and then racing off in the opposite direction. He bellowed and he roared and then he ran back again. He criss-crossed the field over and over at a frightening speed. He threw his head down in a charge and then he tossed his head way back. He looked like he could easily jump over the wall if he wanted to and since it was in a downhill direction to where we were, I felt it was a real and frightening possibility. Once he saw Oscar he stopped running abruptly and walked over to the wall. He stood completely still and stared at us.

8 October Monday

There are fewer raspberries everyday. I can no longer fill a big bowl but I can fill a small bowl. Some days I can only fill a cup. It is best if I pick every other day. For some reason the sorrel is growing like crazy. It is going mad. It is more plentiful that it has been all summer.

10 October Wednesday

The man did a fast U-turn in front of the church. The turn was too fast to be safe. At the same time as he made the scary turn he was crossing himself: Head.Tummy.Left.Right. and at the same time as he was crossing himself and making the turn he was talking into his phone which was squished between his shoulder and his ear.

11 October Thursday

It was first thing I saw as I came out of the undergrowth and reached the tarmacadam road. Dead fox. He must have been hit by a car. There were no obvious injuries. He looked perfect. A small amount of blood was coming from his mouth. He looked like he was resting. Part of me felt that I should move the fox off the road so that he would not be run over and squished by the next car or tractor that came along. Part of me just wanted to go away.

12 October Friday

Wild lashing rain.  Incessant beating winds all night and all day — so far.  The rain is so heavy and noisy it is difficult to think.  The roof of the big room is being pounded. After such a long dry summer, it is thrilling to hear this sound. It is exciting to hear the rain and to know that we do not have to line up the buckets and throw down the towels.  The leaks are not leaking.  I can still barely believe it.