I tell a lot of stories. It’s my nature to wind my way through a narrative, pausing for interruptions now and again then picking up the threads until I get to the end. Some days that end is a strong and sure stop of a paved road. Some days that end is a path that just gets smaller and smaller until it has nowhere else to go.
The stories don’t have to be for an audience; I tell myself a lot of them throughout the day. Some are true, some I wish to be true, but all of them pick up the pace of my heartbeat, bringing me fully into the time, the place, the scent of the story.
For instance, that cow in the very first post.
We were visiting my grandmother’s homeplace in Owenbeg, Sligo place last August. In the Irish, Owenbeg is An Abhainn Bheag, meaning “the little river.” My cousin Margie brought us round to the house where my grandmother grew up. My first time there, in June 1983, it was a two room cottage with a huge kitchen fireplace, in many ways, the place she left in the early 1930s.
But now it was expanded, modern, more. The laundry still went out on the line in the brilliant sunshine, but the place shone bright, new and I was certain the machine that washed those clothes on the line did it efficiently, quietly. Another cousin had inherited the homeplace from his mother, my grand aunt, but while he and his family were in residence, they weren’t home just then.
In a whirlwind of conversation, Margie Tuffy took us round the house, knocking on the available doors, showing us the place. Along the back of the house was a 10 foot high privet hedge about five feet out from the exterior wall. Margie told us that the field beyond the hedge was let to local farmers, but through the thick greenness you could hear a rustling. Not ominous, more curious in nature.
We walked to look in the kitchen window and Margie could show me how the room was the size of the room I’d been in, but no longer dark and closed in, rather light and airy. Turning around there was a large hole cut into the privet – about two feet in diameter – directly across from the window. I thought, idly, that it was to relieve the green that encompassed the view of the person doing dishes.
The rustling came again and we peered in through the hole. And the cow peered back, impassive, unimpressed by these chatty Yanks coming through and disturbing the peace, thank you very much.
And while I took a photo of the cow, what you can’t see is the bright crisp sun over our heads, the laughter in our conversation, the connection to the place my grandmother called home for just a short while in a long life.
So I’ll be looking for these stories in the holes in the privet hedge, capturing them as best I can. Spinning the tales I need to tell, finding the ends of the roads be they neat or rough or green.