West's Awake: The joys of a May day
Everyone in Ireland is a millionaire this special May day. It is glorious. Think of all the pastoral adjectives and they apply in spades. Gorgeous!
I'm sitting outside in the cottage garden drinking coffee. The warmed phone on the wall beside me rings.
It's brother Mickie, and he's coming up to Ennistymon on Monday night for a music session with Billy Keane (entertaining son of John B.) and a minibus load of cracked Kerrymen, and would I join them? Would I miss it? Not in a thousand years!
Somehow surreal for the times that are in it globally, but somehow apt, I notice for the very first time that one of the stones in the rude little wall around our garden pond is unusual. It is of some dark rock I cannot name, and it is the shape of the kind of skull I will reveal to the underworld when I am two years dead!
There is a narrow mouth slit looking up at me, moss where my beard is now, a significant nose and two deep eye sockets. You could see that as depressing, but not in the least because a black bull spider of the garden variety is currently chasing a smaller heifer spider across the face.
She is very beautiful but she is also a coquette. She has great legs, and she entices him by showing off three or four of them at a time.
He lunges into the bottom of the eye socket, blinded by lust, but by the time he gets there she has flashed across the bridge of the nose and is flaunting her other four legs from the sunlit bottom of the left side socket! Slut! The mating ritual then begins again.
I drain my coffee and finish off the other thing ye hate to hear me mentioning at all, and wish him the best of luck.
Behind them, in the tiny pond, hundreds of tadpoles fill the water with life, and there is one glowing lily. Birds are clearly in great form, and the air is heavy with the humming of bees. It is the season of the birds and the bees, is it not?
For the first time this season I notice there is heavy farm traffic in the Carhue road. I look more closely and see that the very first silage of the season is being brought home to Mick Quinn's silage pit up the road.
That now is a very significant happening. It is the first harvest of the growing season.
The green tractors with their huge high-sided Torro trailers are bringing home the aromatic freshly cut green grass from the meadows. It is the new enough face of Irish farming.
Haymaking is gone forever. Now it is either silage or big black plastic footballs of wilted grass that provide the winter feed.
Usually farm families now don't do the work themselves. There is a generation of highly skilled silage contractors who move in on contract and keep cutting day and night through the season.
It is the one time of the year when non-farmers see, if you like, the industrial face of modern farming. The huge tractors, two or three of them, ply between the cutting machine in the meadow and the silage pit with clockwork precision.