After The Grand National

by ericavanhorn

4 April Thursday

A second bright day. There is rain forecast for later but right now the day is bright and the sky is blue. The cows have been turned out and it appears that every field is full.

5 April Friday

I have received a summons to appear for jury duty. I sat on a jury some years ago and after that I was given a piece of paper saying that I need never do it again. The day that I was selected for that jury, I met an older woman in the car park who recognised me from the morning of jury selection. She had been among the initial group but she had not been chosen. She was deeply disappointed. The woman was nicely dressed. She wanted to appear tidy and respectable and reliable. I felt she was lonely and perhaps hoped for the activity of sitting on a jury with a group of people as a way to fill her days. She said that she was envious that I had been chosen. We talked for a few minutes and then she wished me luck.  As she turned away, the woman said, “And you, you are not even Irish.” I was not sure if I was meant to hear this. Nor was I certain if her comment was simply an observation or if she felt that someone born in the country should have priority in these situations.  I decided not to ask what she meant.

6 April Saturday

Storm Kathleen is bludgeoning us. We have been warned. The sound is endless and interrupted only by lashings of hard beating torrential rain. I watch the bird feeders being blown left and right and waving in the air fully horizontal. The birds hold on and they keep eating, no matter which way the feeders are blown.

8 April Monday

Forget-me-nots. Robin Run the Hedge. Honesty. Bluebells. Ferns. Harebells. Grape Hyacinths. Apple blossom. Wild Garlic flowers. Every day there are more spring flowers and plants to see. There are ones that I know and others that I do not have names for.  I am happy to see them all.

9 April Tuesday

The bright red board with yellow squares around the edges is in position to alert and to prevent anyone from backing into the structure behind it. I do not know what it is protecting but it is at the petrol station, so it is something to do with fuel.

10 April Wednesday

A shallykabukie is moving slowly across the window. I would not have noticed this snail in its striped shell except that I have been running to look out the window at the men above in Joe’s field. The men are replacing the utility pole. A few hours ago we lost our power. Looking on the ESB app, we found out that 452 houses had lost their electricity. The engineers were looking to locate the problem. Within the hour, 451 houses had their power restored. We remain without electricity. The pole beside us has fallen down. Its bottom is completely rotten and the weeks and weeks of unending rain meant that there was no way for it to remain standing. The afternoon is windy but dry. Eight men and two big JCBs arrived to do the job. Every so often, I run outside to watch and report on their progress.  Sometimes I just look out the window. The shallykabukie keeps making its way slowly across the window. By the time the electric is restored, it still has a long way to go.

11 April Thursday

The display for Signed Prayer Cards is large, and it is new. Twelve cards are on display for seven euros each. I asked Stacey why anyone would want to buy a card that is already signed by someone else. She explained that the cards are signed by the priest and also by the sender. The card is a guarantee to the recipient that the priest will mention the death or the illness of whoever the card is sent to during his next Mass. The priest will get everyone to pray together for that person. All for seven euro.

13 April Saturday

Breda told me that she saw the first swallow on the 9th. I have yet to see one myself, but I am on the look-out.

15 April Monday

Everyone is discussing The Grand National. Irish horses did very well on the day. Everyone is proud. The whole country is proud, even those who do not regularly follow the horses. A woman in the shop was thrilled that a horse named I am Maximus won Big. She announced to everyone in the shop that she should have bet on that horse. She was as excited as she might have been if she had actually bet on the horse. She said she should have bet on that horse because her dog is named Maximus. She said she would have bet on that horse if she had known his name and if she had someone to place a bet for her. She said that she had never before bet on a horse, not even once in her life and she did not even know how to place a bet but if she had known about this horse with the same name as her dog she would have surely bet on it and then she too would have won Big.

16 April Tuesday

Anthony told me that Mena was away in France for The Bones of Two Weeks. She might have only been away for eight or nine or ten days but by saying The Bones of Two Weeks, he meant most of that time. The implication is that there is not much left of two weeks by the time she returns. He could have said that Mena was away for a little more than a week but he did not. Mena is short for Philomena.

17 April Wednesday

I set off up the Mass Path.  I was pleased at how much drier things were, but then I stepped on a mossy rock and it was too slippery to hold me. I fell flat into the mud. I landed hard with my whole body. It was a thump that took my breath away but I felt proud that I had been able to keep my face from landing in the mud. I turned around and went back home. I was too wet and cold and heavy with clumpy mud all over my clothes and my hands to continue.

18 April Thursday

Five, maybe six, days now without rain. We are all reeling with pleasure. It is cold. The wind is sharp. But it is dry. Ploughing is being done in all directions. The tractors race along the roads from field to field. Everyone is in a hurry. Every field without cows or sheep in it is being prepared for planting. The whole district feels busy.

19 April Friday

Today I received notice back from the Courts Department. The letter excused me from Jury Duty with the expression: “on foot of the summons served on you…” I have been thinking about this terminology all day.

20 April Saturday

In my life, there continues to be a mix-up between the words call and ring. I always make the mistake of saying that I will call someone and they respond by saying: “Oh, no need to call! Just give me a ring.”  To call is to drop by and visit. Calling in on someone means they will be obligated to offer tea and maybe some biscuits. A call demands etiquette. A quick chat by phone is something else. When someone says that they tried to ring and the phone Rang Out, it means that no one picked up the incoming call. It rang and rang and there was no answer. When a number Rings Foreign, the person ringing can tell that the telephone is out of the country. I seem to be the only one who does not understand how the dial tone sounds different when the person at the other end of a phone line is abroad.