25 August Tuesday
Tommie was finally allowed to have a visit with Margaret in the care home in Cappoquin. He found it awkward. He and Margaret sat on opposite sides of a big sheet of glass and they both wore masks. He said she did not know who he was with his mask on, so he took it off. She still did not know who he was. He felt that after more than 60 years of marriage she should recognize him, but 5 months of no contact had made him easy enough to forget. He was told that he could scheduale a half hour visit every two weeks but before he had the chance to do a second visit, they placed the home back into lockdown.
26 August Wednesday
The ditches are full of honeysuckle and purple loosestrife and creamy clumps of meadowsweet. I am still waiting for the ripening of the blackberries. There are loads of little hard berries but there has not been enough sun to ripen them. The teasels took a beating with all of the storms and winds. They are tumbling everywhere. Very few remain standing fully upright.
27 August Thursday
The roads remain dangerous. Farm vehicles command priority.
28 August Friday
I recognized the woman at the dump. She was the one who had quizzed me about how to dress when dropping off the rubbish and recycling. She said it was a dilemma because if she came all the way into town she wanted to do some other errands and she liked to look nice when she went into a shop. She did not want to wear her good clothes because going to the dump could easily become a messy job if your Black Bag full of the horrible non-recycling stuff broke or if something leaked in the car or spilled when one lifted it up. This woman was always in two minds about whether to dress for the dump or to dress for the town. She lived too far out to make two separate trips. It was last year when she quizzed me about how I managed this issue for myself. When I saw her today, she looked just the same to me as she did then. She certainly did not recognize me from our previous conversation. Either she has resolved the question in her own mind or she is still worrying the problem.
29 August Saturday
As always, the cows ate their way right around one field leaving it tidy and short with straight edges exactly where the fence stopped them eating. Today, after milking, they walked right through that field to the next one where the grass was fresh and long and ready for the eating.
31 August Monday
I saw a yellow plastic ear tag under the gate. It was stuck in the dried mud. I debated whether to crawl over the gate or to squeeze under the gate. I had to get the tag. I looked around until I found a stick. It was a short stick but it worked alright as an extension of my arm. I reached through the gate and scratched away at the mud until I dislodged the plastic. Then I scrabbled and raked it over towards me. As always, I am delighted to have a new tag.
2 September Wednesday
We often hear reports on the radio lamenting the fact that the country is no longer practicing religion as it once did. Actually it is not so much a lament but more of an observation about the change in attitudes and behaviour. Few people attend mass regularly and that is not just because of The Covid. The numbers attending church have been falling for many years. There are not so many people subscribing to the practices of the church. When it comes to a funeral or a wedding or the confirmation rituals for children, it seems everyone is still a Catholic. It remains common to see a car slow down as it passes a church while the driver crosses himself or herself. The crossing is often done while the driver is also on the mobile phone. Many sentences end with the expression God Willing or Please God, especially when anticipating the future. Today my doctor told me on the telephone, “I will see you on Wednesday at 10.30, God Willing.” In written form I do not usually see God Willing abbreviated (G.W.), but P.G. and T.G. (Thank God) are common on paper. I am not even certain that people realize that they are saying it. They just say it.
4 September Friday
Raspberries are ripening fast now. I am picking a bowlful every day. Sometimes it is just a normal kind of cereal bowlful and sometimes it is a very large bowlful. We are eating copious quantities of raspberries, giving some to neighbours and freezing some. The freezer is full of all sorts of frozen fruit. I spilled an enormous bag packed full of blackcurrants inside the freezer today. The hard little berries all tumbled to the bottom. Of course. It is a pity it was such a large bag. I have yet to go out to the shed to empty the freezer of its contents and shovel up all the escaped blackcurrants. Blackberry picking has not started. They seem to be slow to ripen, although I hear from other people that they have huge quantities growing near them. I am busy enough with my raspberries so I am glad the blackberries are not ready.
5 September Saturday
Breda and I walked up the old path along the stream to the waterfalls. It was clear for most of the way. We remarked on what easy going it was and we remarked that we had not expected it to be so clear, but as soon as we said that we walked into a mass of fallen down trees and branches. Either Storm Ellen or Storm Frances had done the damage. It was a mess. It was a scrabble to get through but with a lot of crawling and snagging and scratching, we managed to get in and then we had to keep going because backing up was not possible. Halfway though our struggle we heard a man shouting. It was another walker who was crashing through from the other direction. He said he had walked down from Bay Lough which is several hours walk from where we were then. He was a huge fat man and by the time we met him he had blood pouring down his face. When we pointed to the blood he waved his both of his hands in the air and said “No Bother. No Bother. You know yourself. It will be clotting itself any minute now.” And then he marched off down the path.
6 September Sunday
The cows get a bit of fresh grass thrown down to munch on while they are waiting for the rest of the herd to finish up the milking. Some days they wander off down the fields whenever they are ready, but if they are being taken to a new field across the road they have to wait till everyone has been milked. They do not leave the farmyard until they are all ready to go together in a group.
7 September Monday
While walking up through Joe’s fields today I found another ear tag mashed into the manure on the track. This one had been snapped off so no doubt the last bit is still in the ear of the cow. A few days ago Breda pointed me towards a tag in the bog when we were up the mountain. She did not want to pick it up but she knew I would want it. It was a small one, made for a sheep. Finding three new tags in one week is a thrilling bounty. Sometimes I go for months without finding a single new one.