16 December Sunday
Anthony has brought out his Christmas Tree made of tyres. This is the third year for this tree. He keeps it on a pallet out in his yard. It is there all year to be seen at any time if anyone walks out back where all the machinery and used tyres are kept. At this time of year, he brings the pallet with the tree on it out near the road with a small forklift and he places it near to the petrol pumps. He adds a few bits of fresh greenery. Now we know it is Christmas.
15 December Saturday
About four or maybe five years ago—the last time I was in hospital, the surgeon came to collect me when he was ready for me. I was wearing my hospital gown, with little paper elasticized slippers and a little paper hat. The hat was like a shower cap. The surgeon and I walked down to the operating theatre together. We chatted about this and that as we walked. This time I was in the bed and ready to go when a man came to collect me. He was not the surgeon. He was a Porter. I did not have to walk to the operating theatre. The Porter pushed me and my bed though the maze of corridors. Before we left, he raised the bed so that I was sitting upright. I assumed he was doing that so that I could see where we were going. He said, “I know you will want to look around. Well anyone would, wouldn’t they? And no doubt you will see someone you know along the way.”
12 December Wednesday
Michael reported that he had just seen Robert with a chain saw. He was speaking down from high up in his tractor to Geraldine who was standing on the ground. They were discussing a tree that was hanging down over the road in an unnatural and dangerous way. The tree looked ready to tumble. The ground is so wet and so very sodden after all the weeks of rain. Some roots cannot hold on to the earth anymore. If the tree tumbles in the upcoming promised gusts of wild wind, it will block the farm gate and the road and it will take an electricity cable down with it. Robert is Geraldine’s partner. She knew exactly which tree was being discussed.
She said, “That tree is getting between him and his sleep.”
11 December Tuesday
The morning started grey and gloomy. The thick cloud cover has not lifted all day. It is impossible to know what time it is by observing the light. I kept thinking the sun might break through but it never happened. It is unseasonably mild. When it is not raining it is mild. Even when it is raining it is mild. These warm temperatures are not normal. There are mosquitoes and all sorts of small bugs that should not be flying around in December. Today I found a bee in a tea towel. I shook the towel out the door and the bee plopped to the ground. It walked away. It did not fly. It walked. There are cows in the fields. That is a good thing for the cows and for the farmers. It is good that the cows can be out eating grass when the fodder shortage still has its grip on things. It is a good thing but it is not a normal thing for this time of year.
10 December Monday
Our Post Office is doomed. It will be closed at the end of January. All of the efforts of our committee and our community have come to nothing. The population in the village is not close enough to the 500 mark. We needed 500 people within a one kilometre radius. People in the countryside live in the countryside. We do not live all crunched together in the village even though we consider this village our village. The fact that there are plenty more people in the five and ten kilometre radius does not count. Or it does count, but it counts against us.
9 December Sunday
There is rain and more rain. It is getting to that point where it is no longer interesting to speak of it. Everyone is tired of talking about the rain. The path is slippery and rocks are covered with moss. The fields are squelching. Walking anywhere is a wet event. There are lakes and ponds and rivers where there are usually fields. Every river and every stream is overflowing. It is not easy to remember where the river used to end and where the fields begin.
We went to the Farmers Market. There were eleven stalls today. There is a new one preparing and selling Fish & Chips or Sausage & Chips. Since we had just had our porridge at the cafe, we did not partake but we received a little coupon to give us a special price in case we changed our minds. I think everyone gets this same special price. It makes everyone feel special, so why not? A few years ago there was a couple cooking and selling Boerewors, a South African sausage. Those were a bit hefty and rich to be eating in the morning, but many people seemed to like them. Some people made a special trip to the Market just to eat one of these sausages. The smell took over the whole area. I am not sure how long ago those people stopped coming to the market. I cannot remember when I last saw them. The geese came out of the river and up onto the Castle car park because people were throwing them chips. They might have come out of the river because it is so swollen and high. There is so much water that it is easy for the geese to just walk straight out onto the car park without even climbing up the bankings.
7 December Friday
The supermarket seemed full of elderly people this morning. It made moving around the narrow aisles a little awkward. One woman came up and grabbed my arm. She said, “I am Loving Your Hat!” She repeated this several times in a loud voice. Then she said it to another shopper who was passing. She said, “I am Loving Her Hat!” She said it two or three times. The other woman just smiled and walked on. I do not think she heard a thing.
6 December Thursday
At this time of year, there is a man who parks his lorry in various locations in order to sell firewood. Usually he is in Clonmel. Sometimes he comes to the market in Cahir on a Saturday but he always parks well away from the actual market. He parks at the far side of the car park so that he does not have to pay for a place in the market. His intention is to get the customers from the market but without putting out any money. He has a young boy working with him. The boy stays up on the truck and hands bags down to the man. Bags of kindling cost 1.50 each. Five euro buys four bags. One day I bought four bags. The man had the boy hand the bags down to him and then he tossed them onto his shoulder and he asked me where my car was. We walked together to my car with him chatting and asking questions all the while. He loaded the bags into the back of the car, complimented me on my accent and went back to his truck. It was not until I got home that I noticed how small the bags were. The bags on display and the bags which the boy handed to the man were not the same sized bag. It was a clever trick. I wonder how many customers go back for a second purchase.
4 December Tuesday
There was a sparrow swooping and flying around in the food court at Dublin airport. Everyone was delighted to see it. One table had been set aside with some crumbs and a bowl of water for the bird. The name of the cafe was Warbler + Wren.