Tag Archives: winter

Andante, andante

If September is the composer’s marking ‘allegro ma non troppo’, in October, he instructs ‘andante, andante’. What’s the rush? The cows aren’t in a rush. Walking them in from the field these days, we’re not to proud to plead with them to come into the parlour. If you’d be so kind girls to leave the field and produce some milk. We’re the kind of household that are very in tune with our cows. They’re slowing down, go on so, put on the kettle.

During the busy period of the year, with young children climbing out of every crevice, or so it seems, and paperwork mounting up, it was a sink or swim sort of situation. Dinner prepared the night before scenario, busy planning Sunday night for the week to come, sorting cow’s cards, filing the incomings and outgoings. It was the first time in almost nine years of marriage, the accountant saw us before the deadline with accounts in order. Who are these people?

I mean, we’re not home free, work will still be done, in fact if you’re a visitor watching the poor farmer come and go while you sip your tea with the farmer’s wife, you mightn’t see the behind the scenes slowing down. The worries don’t subside, you still have to keep an eye on the food ahead of cows for the winter, there are still evenings of planning for the year to come. He’s still milking twice a day, but he’s not spreading fertilizer or feeding calves or making silage or or or. No, have a biscuit, he’ll be on soon.

The light is creeping away on us, a chill is most definitely in the Kerry air. It will carry us through the high and low notes of this Winter’s sonata. And in he walks, as if he can smell a hot cup from down the high field. And he does like cake. Andante, andante does it.

Survival

I started an overdue post yesterday as follows;

The tax man is licking his lips and wringing his wrinkly old hands. Whatsmore, this October storm is tapping a ‘remember me’ tune on the windows and though it was slow to reach us, there’s no denying that Winter is here. Yes, Winter offers us a respite from much of the hard work that comes with the farm. In the farmhouse, however, there is much to keep the farmer’s wife busy.

If you’re still with me, read on…

On thinking on survival, I remember my early country mentor, my Grandmother, Cait. She was the quintessential country woman. In the reverse of my situation, this fine country woman found herself living in the city. And throughout her life, she offered me glimpses of what being a countrywoman meant. She cared for herself just enough so that she could look after her children and her home. Loved those same children enough to make sure they grew up strong and fed them healthily to chase illness from their threshold.

Today’s much needed amendment;

I caught my Nana once drinking a scalding hot Lemsip down to the gulps of us, her awestruck city grandchildren.  She made sure there was a homemade creamy sponge cake in the fridge every Saturday night when she babysat us. And she loved Dallas. She knew more about hurling than any man I know. But she was deaf and rarely spoke. So how do I know? Despite a very difficult life, the sparkle in her beautiful eyes, said listen girl, ‘just face the music and dance’.

I’m lucky to look just like her, her height, cheek bones and stature (sometimes not so lucky) and so increasingly, I catch her looking at me in the mirror and she’s smiling. Let’s face it, farming in Ireland as a one income family with three small boys requires basic survival strategies. Most days, I’m chanelling my inner country woman just to get through the day. And then comes the point when you stop just surviving and you’re smiling and dancing with little boys (God help them) to Frank Sinatra in a kitchen and you’re living again. Winter is here and only the fittest will survive (!), so put on your dancing shoes, grab your inner Grandmother and dance.