One of those days when mood swings follow the weather. The glare of late afternoon sun on wet cobblestone streets is a rival to the glare off an icy mountain slope. My knees are cold under my skirt as we jostled through Limerick looking for a café to keep our appetites appeased. When we found a place that was open we set in on a tall cup of hot chocolate. We refilled the French hot chocolate with milk until it was American chocolate milk.
This morning at Rachel O’Grady’s we picked russet apples and talked to her neighbor. As we crossed the street she repeated “heel Feather, Feather, heel” to her dog Feather in a flat monotone way until Lindsey and I were dying trying to refrain from laughing. We went around the back to find an old woman, prematurely aged and waddling with a bad knee. As we talked her story unfolded. She had terrible trouble with her knee and was constantly getting calls from the nurse. I looked at the upward lift of the creases around her eyes and realized that she is someone who had looked her own death in the face very seriously. After she told her story long enough, she turned the conversation on Rachel’s dying father and cooed her apologies. “Like, you know” she said like an Irish woman: a short “like, you” and a long “o” in “knooooow”. Rachel talked to another neighbor about beech and ash trees on passing and it made sense to him because these trees are part of their everyday understanding and vocabulary. Her house is paneled with Spruce from Norway and Douglas Fir from the farm. She said her house was insulated with newspaper (professionally assembled newspaper--this isn't exactly a miner's squat). She had a rack with a pulley to dry clothes above her wood stove and she was strict about keeping the door to the staircase closed to keep the heat from rising. She had two composting toilets and the bin where the waste accumulates had yet to fill up after two years of use. I really love how the windows are deep set into the walls in Ireland. The first time I fell for deep set windows was when I saw pictures of Le Corbusier’s church in Ronchamp, France.
St. John's Castle in Limerick next to the Shannon River. The Shannon moves quite a bit with the tide according to my twice-soaked-boot.