Weather is Not Everything.

by ericavanhorn

11 February Sunday

We stood in cold bright sunshine waiting for the bus. We were early. A school marching band was practicing for the St Patrick’s Day parade. We watched them through wide cast-iron gates. A clump of tiny girls with blue and gold pom-poms came first. It was good to know that they have another 5 or six weeks to get better. They were completely chaotic. They needed a lot more practice. Then came the band, followed by older girls with full sized flags. They twirled and waved their flags, marching with high knees, and sweeping the ground with the fabric of their flags. A woman stood beside me and pointed out her grandchildren, as well as assorted nieces and nephews. It appeared that she was related to half of everyone and proud of them all. They circled the old army barracks three times before the Dublin bus arrived and we all got on, leaving the marchers marching.

12 March Tuesday

Some bus journeys are noisy, with chatter and laughter and music and the pinging noises of mobile phones. Some bus drivers keep the radio turned up loud for the entire trip. Today’s bus was a quiet bus. The driver barely spoke to people as they boarded. He was neither a talkative nor a welcoming driver. There was not much conversation among the passengers either, and what conversation there was, was subdued. As we traveled south from Dublin airport, our driver pulled over at the side of a busy road. The place where he stopped was not a bus stop. He walked to the center of the bus, down two steps and into the teeny toilet.  He did not say a word.  We waited. We waited for a long time. The bus was completely silent. No one spoke. Eventually the driver came out of the toilet and he went back to the front of the bus, sat down and drove away. He never said a word. Neither did anyone else.

13 March Wednesday

Joe explained that the woman was a small woman and that she was Low to the Ground, but he added that she was a fierce lady with a dangerously quick temper. For emphasis, he added: She’d eat you without salt!

14 March Thursday

After making a house call, the doctor told him that he must go to the hospital, but Tommie said that he had had enough of hospitals and that he would prefer to stay at home. The doctor told him that he is Dancing Close to the Rim, but finally agreed to allow Tommie to stay at home. He has returned three times now to check up on his patient. Tommie told me that he is not a whole lot better, but that he is no worse.

15 March Friday

It had been a lovely day. The sun was out and there had been no rain and we all felt a bit of hopefulness. In this atmosphere of weather optimism, almost everyone had come out without wearing enough warm clothing. Michael Hickey died on Wednesday. We attended his wake in Cashel today. The line of people waiting to pay their respects stretched all the way up the street. The pavement was full. Everyone was talking quietly to the people around them. People left their place in the queue and went to speak to other people along the way. The forward movement into the building was slow. The late afternoon was cold and getting colder, but no one complained about the wait. The shock of Michael’s untimely death was foremost in every single conversation. He was too young. Too healthy. Too funny. Too full of life and vigor and plans and always full of his usual questioning manner. The word tragic was frequently used.

After an hour, we finally entered the hallway of the funeral home where we signed the book of condolences and we waited some more. I was distracted by a model of the funeral home itself. It had been built by a 92 year old man and painted by someone else who was related to the family of undertakers. There was a small sign on the front of the building explaining these facts. I was impressed by the model and I pointed it out to those around me. No one seemed particularly interested but I did feel that Michael himself would have had something both funny and appreciative to say about it. He would not have failed to acknowledge the model building. It had an extremely steep pitch on the roof. I made a note to myself to look at the actual roof of the building when I went outside. And I wondered if there was a tree beside the building, mirroring the one painted on the side of the model. When we finally entered the room where Michael was laid out in his coffin, we spoke with Ute and her two sons. She consoled and thanked every person graciously for coming. It was as though it were her job to give kindness and sympathy rather than to receive it. She gave each person a careful and personal amount of attention which is why the line was so slow to move. Not one person minded the wait.

16 March Saturday

I did not know what the structure was as I approached it. From afar, it looked like a bit of mad archway architecture but it had never been there before. It was not until I smelled the stench of the slurry that I understood. The hose for carrying the slurry from the tank to the fields where it was to be spread, had been lifted up and off the road with a digger extended upwards. Cars and people could pass under rather than driving over the hose. It was high enough that even the big milk tanker could pass underneath without a bother. Sometimes metal ramps are placed on the road to prevent and guide cars from driving over the actual hose. This was a much more exciting solution.

18 March Monday Bank Holiday

Everyone is weary of the rain.  It falls endlessly and even when a day begins clear, the dryness does not last. The rain arrives in gusts or drizzles or torrential downpours. It is soft or it is hard and noisy. It arrives in all forms but what it does not do is stop.  There is so much mud and there are such big puddles. As both a topic of conversation and a state of being, we are all tired of the rain.

19 March Tuesday

Burke’s Ironworks in Cahir has painted black gateposts on the outside of their building. On the wall, they then attach examples of their cast-iron gates. The real gate is attached to the illusion of a gatepost. Sometimes a gate is removed and delivered to a house or a farm and then the posts stay empty for a while until a new gate is fitted onto the wall.

20 March Wednesday

The doctor told me that she is originally from Iraq, but that she has been in this country for twenty-three years. She feels that this is a good and gentle place to be. There have been no wars and she feels certain that there will be no wars. She said Ireland is A Safe Place to Live. She said that safety is the best thing that anyone can hope for. She has never been back to Iraq and she said that she will never return. She has no family there any longer. She is happy to be here even though the weather is damp and often grim. She finished by saying that weather is not everything.

21 March Thursday

I saw the first primrose today. My initial thought is that it is early but then I think that I think this every year. In spite of all the rain that has been falling almost without cease for three or maybe four months, a lot of things are suddenly in flower. The magnolia tree up at the farm is glorious. Primrose. Stitchwort. Gorse. Lesser Celandine. Dandelions. Flowering currants. Fruit trees are in blossom. There are many late daffodils. Wild garlic is everywhere with its shiny long leaves. No flowers yet but the fresh smell and taste is added to everything we eat.

23 March Saturday

The Madonna in the corner of the car park at the supermarket has been given several bunches of flowers wrapped in cellophane.

25 March Monday

Dalton’s Tyres have a waiting room that is made to look like a log cabin from the outside. Sometimes the door is wide open and sometimes it is closed to keep the heat inside for the person who is waiting to get their tyres replaced or for their wheel alignment to be completed. Inside, a small electric heater warms the cabin, and a television is always on, with or without any sound. There is a couch, a big chair and a stack of car magazines on the coffee table. It is bleak while it is trying to look like home.

26 March Tuesday

Siobhan and I drove past the field where Jackie Murphy’s lambs are grazing. We knew they were his sheep because there were two llamas in the field with the sheep. He is the only sheep farmer around here to have resident llamas. They are there to keep the foxes from attacking the baby lambs.  As a method, it works. He has not lost a single lamb since the pair of llamas have been on duty. I wonder if they will reproduce and that there will soon be more llamas.

27 March Wednesday

The Christmas poinsettia is now outside.  I had the idea that I could keep it going and growing in the house until the weather was warm enough to put it outdoors but I now accept that it is not meant to survive. A seasonal plant with built in limitations. I put it on the table near to Simon’s words.

28 March Thursday

“There’s going to be a Famine!” This is what Michael shouted to me across the passenger seat of his little van. The seat held a big green bucket that had recently held some form of animal feed. It was now empty, damp and needing a wash. I had pressed myself into the undergrowth to allow Michael’s van to pass but he did not pass, instead he had stopped and opened the window. He shouted some more. He said, “There is a crisis coming! The fields are too wet and the mud is so deep that machines cannot drive out over them. No one can plant potatoes. Or oats. Or grass for silage. No one can plant anything and if nothing is planted there will be nothing to eat. There will surely be a famine if this rain doesn’t stop!” He repeated his message about the impending famine a few more times, then he shook his head, saluted and drove on down the narrow lane.

30 March Saturday

We all hoped that Pat would have some asparagus on his table at the market today, but it is a bit early yet.  I came home with leeks and rhubarb.