by ericavanhorn

11 September Monday

I cannot go near to the book barn without colliding with a bee. The honeybees in the roof are wildly busy.  They are making up for the many weeks of wet weather this summer. Even if I am working in the garden at a distance, the bees crash into my head and my body. I try not to swat at them because I know that makes them angry so most of the time I just stay away, except to walk in and out of the barn. Their entrance is right above the door so it is impossible to avoid them completely. Beekeepers everywhere are bemoaning the poor honey production this year because it has been too wet for the bees to do their job. All of our honey is all up in the roof, completely inaccessible to anyone.  The Clonmel Honey show is coming up in a few weeks. There is discussion and worry that this will be the worst showing ever. The Irish for Clonmel is CLUAIN MEALA which translates as Meadow of Honey. The Honey Show is a big event. But without honey it will be less of an event.

12 September Tuesday

Tommie is in the care home in Clogheen. First he went to hospital with his ongoing lung infection and while he was there he contracted the new variant of Covid. After two weeks in isolation, he has been sent to St Theresa’s but he is still not allowed any visitors. I send him cards.

13 September Wednesday

There are more spiders around than ever.  I learned on the radio that at this time of year the males are out hunting the females to reproduce and the females are all hiding. The reason for the hiding is not clear. There are enormous numbers of spiders on the prowl. I do not know how to recognize a male from a female. There are large wood spiders with hairy legs trying and failing to climb the slippery walls of the bathtub. There are delicate spiders with long thin legs like fine hairs and all kinds of quick moving tiny ones and along with the massive quantity of spiders there are huge droopy cobwebs in every corner of every room. They never talk about the cobwebs on the radio.

14 September Thursday

There is a tendency for any walking path in woods that is gentle enough for children and families to be littered with little doorways for the fairies. The small doorways might be made of painted wood, or the doors might be colored plastic. They give the children something to rush around and discover while they are out getting fresh air. I am not a fan of these little doorways. I hate them. There is never just one doorway. There are usually 20 or 30 in a given area. I avoid any place where the fairy doors have invaded. The window in the hardware shop has a display of little fairy figurines and several little doorways. Added into the mix is a variety of Fairy products, which have nothing to do with fairies. Fairy is an English brand name for washing-up liquid and laundry soap. It is difficult to decide which idea came first in this display.

15 September Friday

My mother never gave us carbonated drinks except when we were sick in bed, and then we were given a tiny glass of flat warm ginger ale. All soft drinks were called Tonic in New Hampshire, but we were allowed none of them, so flat ginger ale seemed like a treat. When I left New Hampshire, I learned to say Soda instead of Tonic. In some parts of the US people call it Pop. And some people call it all Coke, even if it is not Coca Cola, but another flavor of fizzy drink. When I moved to Ireland, my vocabulary had to adjust again. Even though I never drink these drinks, I need to know the correct word: carbonated drinks are called Minerals.

16 September Saturday

Everyone feels beaten up. Twenty-eight hours of straight heavy rain will do that to a person. The rain fell hard and heavily without a moment of pause. Many people said they never stepped outside their door once all day and all night. The roads were running with brown water. The water was full of topsoil rushing off the fields at speed.

17 September Sunday

For some time and in some places, milk cartons had pictures of missing children along with police phone numbers to ring if one spotted a lost child. It was something to read while eating breakfast. Now there is a Q-code on our milk cartons. If we click on the code we can hear the sounds of cows in the field. Or we can just go outside and eat our cereal. There are plenty of cows in either Joe’s field or the other Joe’s field. We do not need the recorded version.

18 September Monday

Raspberries. I am picking raspberries as fast as I can in between the cloud bursts. I am also picking blackberries, but my priority is always raspberries. I like raspberries more than blackberries and I hate for them to get soggy in this endless rain.

19 September Tuesday

The news is full of The Ploughing. Today is the first of the annual three day event. The radio has been noisy with excitement and anticipation for weeks now. There is new terminology to accompany the types of competiton: reversible, conventional, stubble, three-furrow and two furrow. This year the event is being held in County Laois. The location changes every year but the event is always plagued with bad weather, terrible backups of traffic and parking issues in places where parking has never before been a problem, free servings of Flahavan’s porridge, and lots of mud. It is the place where farmers from all over the country gather to see new machinery and to learn new methods for various jobs, and how to tackle the climate issues as European laws evolve. Politicians know that it is important that they attend The National Ploughing Competitions. They need to be available to answer questions and they need to have the right solutions to problems if they are going to have any chance to be re-elected. The Ploughing itself is a National Sport and the Irish winners will be rushing off to the European Championships in Denmark soon, along with their tractors.

20 September Wednesday

I like to see what is going on as I walk through the farmyard, but most days there is little to see. The road makes two sharp right angles and we call it The Dog’s Leg. High gates block off a lot of the activity. The machines get bigger and bigger and they do more and more of the work. People are less visible. Ann picks apples at this time of year, but she only picks once. The rest of the apples fall onto the ground and rot. Otherwise women are not visible at the farm. The newest farm worker helping Joe is named Rafael. He is from Brazil.

21 September Thursday

I have seen the young fox three times this week. Each time I have been walking in the boreen. When he sees me, he leaps high into the underbrush, and is gone almost before I can register his presence.

22 September Friday

The nights are cool and the mornings are misty and cold. Already the sun sets earlier and earlier, but there are plenty of flowers still in bloom. Daisies, honeysuckle, purple loosestrife, buttercups, rose hips, wild fuchsia and meadowsweet fill the hedgerows, and in the garden the roses, daisies, lavender and Lady’s Mantle keep blooming. Lady’s Mantle is perfect for this climate because it’s leaves look splendid with drops of water.

23 September Saturday

Today there was a Twenty Year Anniversary Celebration at the Farmer’s Market. The day was celebrated with lots of balloons and pennants and a group of musicians from The Cahir Men’s Shed. Their music was not lively. Everything sounded like a dirge and there were too many of them to fit under the little tent covering when the rain started. Pat the Fishmonger made little sandwiches for each customer with cream cheese and his smoked salmon.

24 September Sunday

Slugs abound. This wet weather is just what they like.

25 September Monday

Beautiful sunshine today after yesterday non-stop pouring rain. Yesterday was not a day to step outside if it could be avoided. I walked through the farm as a long truck was backing up to deliver wood shavings. This is what the cows stand on on top of their slatted mats. The driver dumped a huge load of shavings and now it will take a few days for Joe to move it all from that pile to wherever he stores it until it is needed for the cows. Then the driver will come and dump another load. Or two loads. The shavings in the yard smell wonderful.

26 September Tuesday

I visited Tommie today with a large bowl of raspberries and a jug of heavy cream.  He arrived home yesterday in the afternoon. He had been away for nearly five weeks. By seven o’clock he had had his tea and he told me that he felt depressed. He felt lonely and alone.  His neighbor  came over with two sausages on a plate and he told him to go away.  He did not know if the sausages were for him or if Pat just wanted to display them to him. He did not want to see Pat. He said he missed all of the nurses and the activity of people around him with food and cups of tea and smiles. His hair looks thick and shiny.   I told him that it looked nice and he said they were good to shampoo it for him at St .Theresea’s. He said he doesn’t bother with shampoo much himself.

28 September Thursday

Yesterday we were heartily thrashed by Storm Agnes.  I do not know why the naming of storms has gone from Betty to Agnes.  Why would we be going backwards through the alphabet?  The winds were fierce and a lot of people lost their electricity.  Even inside the house it was hard to think for the noise of the gusting wind. Today the winds are weaker but still blustery. There is nothing but the weather to focus upon.