Simon has been lightly cooking gooseberries with a few elderflower blossoms. The perfume off this combination is wonderful. It is more like muscat than like what it is. The blossom is just about gone now. We are hoping that later in the year we will be able to recreate this taste of summer by using my elderflower cordial in place of the actual blossoms. There is a good supply of gooseberries stored in the freezer. I feel wealthy when I see them in there.
9 July Thursday
Margaret noticed that a fox was coming to eat the food that she had placed out for her dog. She started to put extra food out when her dog was safely inside the house. She kept a watch and saw the fox arriving and gobbling the food. She changed the position of the bowl so that it now sits up on her wall. She no longer has to worry about the dog getting the foxes food. She is also able to watch the fox easily from inside her house. She can not go too near to the window as the fox will sense her presence. She stands back in the room a little ways. She can look out but the fox can not see her. Margaret tells everyone about her fox. She has started to speak of him as her pet fox. People are discussing this among themselves. The Knocklofty road is a busy road and the bend where Margaret lives is a bit of a blind bend. People zip around there quickly in their cars. Some people think that it is wonderful that Margaret has this pet fox to feed and to watch and to think about. Other people think it is an accident waiting to happen. Either the fox himself will be hit by a car or else a car will swerve to avoid the fox as he jumps up or down from the wall directly into the road and there will be some sort of a crash. They shake their heads and make distressed sounds when they discuss the potential disaster. There is not one person who does not have an opinion about the feeding of this fox. I am wondering if this fox is the fox who lives up in Scully’s wood, or if it is a completely other fox who might live down in the quarry.
8 July Wednesday
First I learned the word Perisher. I learned that I am a Perisher. Being one who feels the cold and is always taking my sweater on or off, I am pleased with this new word. I often find myself telling people that I am a Perisher. I am interested to know if absolutely everyone else knew this word long before I ever even heard it. I mentioned it to someone recently and she said “Ah, you mean to say that you are a Cold Kettle!” This is another way of saying the same thing, but these are words that belong to a different part of the country.
7 July Tuesday
We do not have mosquitoes. Summer guests are always surprised and even a little confused that we have no biting bugs of any sort. We have no screens on our windows. The only reason we ever close our windows in summer is if it gets too cold, or maybe if the rain is being blown in a particular direction. I can feel smug about the lack of biting insects but I am less self-satisfied when I think about the slugs. This has been a bad week for slugs. There is always a slug in the bathroom at night. I have taken to closing the window tightly quite early in the evening. I have put the plug into the bathtub. Now I am thinking that maybe I have not been keeping the night slugs out. I am not stopping a slug who might have oozed up the wall and in through the window. I fear that they are already inside and that during the day they are simply staying out of sight under the tub or somewhere dark. At night they come out and travel around. A few nights ago, I picked up my glasses and touched a slug that was draped around the bow. I dropped the glasses with a little shriek. I am lucky that they did not break on the stone floor. I am not afraid of slugs but I find them horrible to touch. I do not wish to be surprised by the feel of a slug. The next night I found a medium-sized slug stretched out on the side of the sink as though it were sunbathing. It had a little curve in the body which suggested more than just sleeping. I threw that one out the window. Last night I found another slug curled around my toothbrush. It was not on the bristles. It was down where my hand holds the toothbrush, but that does not mean it had not already crawled over the bristles. I used to dread stepping on a slug in my bare feet in the night. Now I feel I am under attack.
6 July Monday
It was all day wet today. The rain varied between lashing and just coming down. It was never a mere drizzle and it was never warm. It is July and it is chilly and wet and hateful. I spoke to Marianne who was pleased that it was raining because she felt she now had an excuse to stay inside and watch the afternoon match at Wimbledon. She was delighted with her change of plan until she remembered that their television does not work properly in the rain. The screen shows nothing but static when it rains which is not very good for tennis. I set off for a walk at one point because I felt I just had to move. If Em were still alive, I would of course be going for a walk. She was not bothered about the rain. If we all stopped everything in this country every time it rained no one would ever get a thing done. I dressed in full waterproofs and headed off and up the Mass path. I did not get any further than the stream. Branches have fallen and brambles have thickened and there was no way I could push my way through. I got down on my knees to crawl but even that did not work. I was trapped. The growth was dense and clawing at me. Everything was dripping. The only way through will be with a saw and some secautars. That was not a job to do in the rain and that was not a job to do when what I wanted was a walk. I went the other way, up the boreen and out onto the road and once I met Oscar, we were both happy to march along in the gusty rain. I wondered if maybe walking with a dog was even more of what I needed than simply walking.
5 July Sunday
A sign on a tree is advertising A SILAGE EXTRAVAGANZA — Family Day. I have no idea what a Silage Extravaganza might entail, but I assume the farmers will be cheerful to be celebrating.