Shot into town early Saturday morning to buy wellies with my niece and nephew, Thi and Daniel, who stayed with us for the weekend. They are city-slickers from the Big Smoke, who forget that wellies are an absolute must when visiting their country cousins in Tipperary. I had no upbeat music in the car for the journey, only some Dvorak, Sibelius, Handel and Barbra Streisand. Daniel opted for Barb. as he'd sampled some of the classical stuff before and wasn't that impressed. Thi sat in her car seat in the back and Daniel mused beside me in the passenger seat in quiet appreciation of Ms Streisand as she sang her version of the beautiful song, Windmills of Your Mind .... a great start to a really lovely day.
Robert Redford and Barbra Streisand from the film The Way We Were
What a movie !!!
I took them, along with their mummy and daddy to see the St Patrick's Day parade in Ballylanders. Ballylanders, Co. Limerick rather than Tipperary town, as is my norm, because the band of my Lisvernane National School, which lies at the foot of the Galtees, were marching and playing music there. (I say 'my' because I have the privilege of teaching drama there!) The band marched in the Tipperary parade last year, but for some reason this year, Tipp were having a parade, then they weren't, then they were, but Lisvernane had already signed up for the Ballylanders gig. Every pupil in the school is a member of the band and they looked magnificently resplendent in their white and blue, as they marched on this very green day. Enormous credit is due to the teaching staff of this school; their families and the small, but industrious community of Lisvernane as a whole. There was a wonderful sense of community and occasion in Ballylanders that day. We arrived in the village only to find that the parade had been pushed forward a half hour to 3.30pm, because some of the floats were on their way back from the Mitchelstown parade. I smiled to myself and sighed wistfully. Thankfully there are still some things that remain spontaneous and sparkling about this beautiful island and its culture, at a time when Irish bureaucracy has quite possibly overtaken that of Britain.
Then.......there was the rugby match !!!! What rugby match I would say! I'm not really that familiar with the rules of the game, but I have watched quite a few high profile games, and have never seen so many scrums or so much scoring from penalties. What did the Irish team do to deserve so many penalties against them? Penalty try....?!?! Crikey I was going nuts watching it and it didn't help that I watched the match with a soccer fanatic, who doesn't know much about rugby either. Despite the fact that I am English, I consider myself to be Irish now (after 36 years of living here) and always, always, ALWAYS shout for the Republic of Ireland, whether it is soccer, cricket, tennis, golf or even rugby. Naturally, if Ireland is knocked out of a tournament, I then fly the flag for Britain. If that had been the first rugby match I had ever watched, I'm pretty sure it would be the last! Rugby fiasco did not, however, hamper Thi's enjoyment of her spare ribs!
Sunday was Mother's Day and once again the weather was unusually warm and bright for March. Daniel had made his confirmation quite recently and was mad to buy a fishing rod. We tried our luck in Ballylanders the day before, but to no avail. Fishing nets were a last resort. Mum and dad entrusted their babes to us for the afternoon, and we went off in search of fish in the River Suir. Daniel caught only weeds in his net, but we had great fun, crossing ditches and fences; getting stuck in swampy sand and water gushing in over the rim of our wellies. At least they saw fish (not sure whether they were trout or salmon, as I grew up coarse fishing in canals with my dad) jumping for flies under the bridge at Bansha, which at least proved the river wasn't empty. We went home wet, but warm-hearted. My girls were in touch from London and Canada to wish me a happy Mother's Day. The picture below was taken the afternoon before both Emma and Katy left.
Today, following a stroll down the boreen and making wishes in the fairy ring across the fields, the house is quiet once more and I am left with a windmill of 'strawberry moment' memories. I am sitting alone at my kitchen table looking out at the birds who appear to be relishing the silence of the garden; singing; swooping; sparring; spiraling with the joy of just being.
Then I notice that the greenfinches are back in their droves after a year or two's absence.
Perhaps the return of the greenfinch is a sign of a long, hot summer. Let's hope so!
WINDMILLS OF YOUR MIND (1 verse)
Round, like a circle in a spiral
Like a wheel within a wheel.
Never ending or beginning,
On an ever spinning wheel
Like a snowball down a mountain
Or a carnival balloon
Like a carousel that's turning
Running rings around the moon
(written by: Michel Legrand/Marilyn Bergman/Alan Bergman)
Ciao for now!