25 March Monday
The bread man was delivering at O’Dwyers. Both of the back doors were open. There was plywood fitted inside the back windows with charts telling how to store and to locate the bread in the back of the van. I guess each side of the van demands a separate stocking system.
24 March Sunday
Breda announced that she was a real Go The Road. I was not exactly sure what she meant. I felt I had to ask. She told me that it just meant she was busy all the time and all of her busy-ness involved Going. She was always going somewhere by car and never ever staying home. I liked the fact that a Go The Road was a name for a person and not simply an action.
23 March Saturday
We had porridge in the café. We were sitting upstairs where there was only one other woman sitting at the far end by herself. Other than that the place was empty. A second woman came heavily up the stairs with a cup and saucer rattling in her hand.
She shouted across the room, “Oh, Margaret! It is good to see you!” Actually she did not shout, she just used her voice in what was probably her normal way which was extremely loud. Her voice boomed. She made the entire upstairs of the café into her own place. We immediately felt like extras as she and Margaret settled in to talk and catch up on things.
22 March Friday
Yesterday was the vernal equinox and we were promised a full moon. Before bed, I went out out to look at the moon. There was no moon to be seen. Solid cloud cover blocked out all the stars and the moon. I walked down through the meadow taking the route I always used to walk with Em. I did not feel frightened to be walking alone in the dark, but I did wish that Em were with me or at least that she was off barking in the darkness and that she would be back beside me soon. I did not feel frightened but I felt lonely. I felt my isolation. I felt the deep silence surrounding me. The darkness was complete. I could just barely discern the whiteness of the birch trees at the bottom of the path. When a moon is full and bright there are usually shadows on the land. Last night there were no shadows.
21 March Thursday
Ned arrived early and un-announced with a delivery of heating fuel. He usually rings to say that he is coming. He needs to let us know because someone needs to be at home when he comes so that he can plug the generator in through the window. A regular oil truck will not deliver down this boreen. A normal oil truck is too large to drive down here. We have to have our fuel delivered in a small truck with its own generator for pumping. If no one is here when he arrives, Ned’s trip is wasted and he has to take his fuel all the way back to Piltown.
He quickly explained that the reason that he was so early and un-announced was because he had had to rush into Lidl right away this morning. They were having a special on protective helmets with drop-down face visors and sound-muffling ear protectors. The price was only 20 euro and he knew full well they would be popular. He knew they would be Flying Out The Door. The advertisement had said the helmets would be in-store from Monday morning, so he rushed along in order not to miss getting one. The store opened at 8 am and he was there waiting, with our oil in a big plastic tank on his truck, at a quarter to eight. He was not the only one. There were six or seven other men waiting. They were all waiting for the helmets. The men stood at the door and discussed the high quality of these German tools and work products. They all agreed it would be a crime to miss out on such a bargain. Ned was so impressed with the helmets when he saw them that he bought three instead of the one he had come for. He pointed into his truck window to show them to me. There were two on the floor and one on the seat beside him.
I was still wearing my bathrobe when he arrived, so he told me to give him my car keys so that he could move the car and get his truck into position near to the oil tank. When the tank was full, we all had tea and biscuits while Ned further explained the various merits of the new helmets for outdoor work. Before he left, he loaded up the old cast-iron bathtub that we had moved outdoors in September. It has been siting out there ever since. The oil truck had a hydraulic lift on the back. That made it possible for him to get the tub up and into the truck. I was sorry to see it go but glad it has found a new function. He was taking it for his brother to use as a watering trough for the cows.
Before he drove away, Ned patted the boxed helmet on the seat beside him. He said, “It has been a grand day already and it is early yet.”
19 March Tuesday
The smell of slurry is everywhere. The acrid burning smell makes me gag. Lingering outside is not pleasant. Lingering outside is not possible. Daffodils are in bloom. There are primroses all down the boreen. I want to be looking at everything and savoring the springtime but I shall have to wait for another day.
20 February Wednesday
Oscar took a turn in the night. He was taken to the vet but it was all too late. I was saddened, but not surprised to receive this news. I am more surprised that he lasted so long after his stroke. I feel so lucky to have had the chance to know dear Oscar. To have walked with him and to have had him visiting on his own irregular regular basis. He was gentle and loyal and undemanding. His absence is a loss for the whole neighborhood.
This particular kind of dog is disappearing from the lanes of the countryside. These are the dogs who walk out and visit somewhere maybe several miles away and maybe for all day, but they always go home again because they know where they belong and they know where they are fed. These are the dogs who walk only along the very edge of the road where the grass and the soil meet the tarmac. They do not walk in the middle of the road. It is no doubt a little softer for their feet just there along the verge and, anyway, they are well aware that they need to be safely out of the way of motorcars and tractors. Oscar did have an unusual habit of stetching out across the road in one particular place in front of The White Cottage, but even if he was sound asleep he could be seen by anyone driving along from either direction. His death was not a result of being run over. He died because he was old and tired and unwell.