22 September Sunday
I walked into St. John’s, the Protestant Cathedral in Cashel, because the door was open. I had never been inside before. The door is usually locked when I am in the area. They were about to begin a special Harvest service. I did not stay for the service but I admired the apples and vegetables placed here and there as decoration.
21 September Saturday
Everyone sits together in a very small waiting room as their cars are tested. Everyone listens when one of the inspectors come out with the result of each car. It is impossible not to listen, or at least to overhear. An inspector calls out a name. He shouts out the name of the car owner on the certificate even though that might not be the name of the person who has brought the car in for the test. “Now—Kitty O’Gorman’s car!” I was already nervous because our car is 22 years old. When the inspector called for me, he jumped right in on the attack. The NCT are eager to get old cars off the road. This man was especially harsh about the small bit of paint that Mike sprayed up along a brake pipe to cover what he said was a tiny area of rust. The man pronounced, “You cannot just cover over something like that!” He said it three times. His voice got louder each time. He was angry to think I was trying to trick him. The car failed the test. Usually with A Fail, everyone in the room looks on with commiseration and a slight feeling of fear that the same thing might happen to them. In this case, since the inspector was shouting at me, everyone in the chairs in the small waiting room kept their heads down. No one looked at me as I left.
20 September Friday
I sat on a cement wall in the hot sun at the petrol station while a young boy power-sprayed manure and mud from the tyre wells and the bottom of the car. The car is scheduled for the NCT vehicle inspection test on Saturday. If manure falls on the heads of the inspection men they will not be happy. They might well fail the car for that. We are living below the farm line. We cannot drive in or out the boreen without going through the yard. The cows cross that way often so there is always a build-up of muck. It is much worse in wet weather than in dry weather. Lucky for me it has been a dry week. When the boy finished spraying there were huge clumps of mud and manure all over the ground underneath the car. He assumed I must be a farmer myself. He said, “With that much muck, I would have thought you would be off up The Ploughing with all the others.”
19 September Thursday
Willie has an answer for everything. Today he said, “Sure, why say it is Bad when you can say it is Not Good.”
18 September Wednesday
The National Ploughing Championships are being held up in County Carlow. The yearly three day event moves around the country. It is always held in a location where there is plenty of land for the various ploughing competitions and farm equipment demonstrations plus all of the other activities around the business of farming. It is unusually good weather for it this year. No rain and no cold, just day after day of glorious sunshine. People are flocking to attend. I know a lot about The Ploughing without ever attending. In that way, it is much like the All-Ireland Match. I find out more than I ever want to know without trying. It does not matter if I am interested because it is part of the background. Everyone discusses who is going to The Ploughing and who has gone to The Ploughing. The radio is full of interviews and songs and various special interest items all being broadcast Direct from the Ploughing. This morning I heard about two brothers just back from Minnesota where they won silver medals for some particular form of ploughing. They were looking forward to competing back here at home. It is important for politicians to attend The Ploughing and to be seen among their constituents. The build-up in the weeks before The Ploughing are always full of radio excitement and there was much advice about preparation. I heard a lot about Hoof Polishing. I am not sure why the hooves of a cow need to be polished, but it is subject about which there are strong opinions.
17 September Tuesday
The man was waiting his turn. When he got to the desk he told the librarian he wanted to get a library card. She asked if he had ever had one in this library before. He said No. She asked if he had ever held a library card at another library anywhere in the country and he said No. She raised her voice and demanded, “Well, and why not?”
16 September Monday
An Post has new vans. A few years ago they changed all the delivery vans from green to white with a flying postman stretched diagonally across the side of each van. No one liked the white vans. We all liked the green vans. Now they have changed them again – this time to a terrible plasticky kind of green. They are ugly. The new vans are a bit longer and they are a hybrid vehicle which is a good thing. Derek told us that there is a new man in charge at An Post. He said that the man used to work in television so he knows a lot about telling people what they should like. None of the postmen are happy with the new vans. The new boss is phasing out all deliveries by bicycle too. This is causing a quiet uproar.
15 September Sunday
A dog appeared in the yard. It was old and yellow. I think it was some kind of a Lab but I did not recognize it. It is always a surprise when I do not recognize a dog. I walked outside to greet it and then I heard voices over in Joe’s field. A young man popped his head around and asked if he could cross over the land as he could not easily get through the top gate due to the brambles and thorns. I said yes but told him to be careful of the fence as it is about to fall down and the stile looks sturdy but it is not. He hopped over the fence and four more dogs came rushing through as did a young blonde girl. Maybe she was his sister. None of the dogs were hunting dogs. They were just mixed breeds out for a chaotic walk. I commented on the number of dogs and he said he usually has more with him than the five but today he was traveling light just out on the hunt for some deer. He had a shot gun which startled me. I forgot that it was the beginning of the hunting season. For the next few hours I heard him up on Keating’s hill with a loud horn. It was the kind of horn they use for fox-hunting. He and his dogs and his sister, if it was his sister, criss-crossed back and forth through the woods and the bushes for a long time. I never heard a gun shot but he blew the hunting horn again and again.
14 September Saturday
We produced a shopping bag to commemorate our dear friend Joan who died this summer. She loved the Farmer’s Market and she loved this poem by William Carlos Williams, so we thought this a fine way to remember her.
13 September Friday
There are long tendrils with thorns dangling down from branches in the path. They grab at clothing and hair and skin. Walking up there is a bit tricky especially when I reach the place where the crab apples are all over the path. They make the walking deadly. It is like walking uphill over ball-bearings, but if I try to duck out of the way of the clingy tendrils I am certain to spin out of control on the apples. All it takes is a branch to fall and the entire architecture of the path is changed again.
12 September Thursday
Sharon’s dog was run over and killed. She used to have four dogs and this was the last of the family group. She is heartbroken. She explained her sense of loss by saying, “I am finding it very hard to put down the time.” I was not sure what she meant by that but now I know that she simply does not know what to do with herself.