The clocks go forward, the birds begin to sing their courting songs, March has been the brightest and driest since they began keeping records. It is beautiful today and every day.
There is the old saying about March coming in like a lion and going out like a lamb. This one was a lamb from Day One, and she has filled the fields around the cottage with lambs and foals and calves and the ragged foundations of crows' nests in the tops of all the trees. It will only be a week or so before I am informing ye again that the swallows are back!
Under this month's moon there came a touch of milky frost every night. It was snappish and silent in the moonlight, silver on the lake, golden to the eye.
This was the kind of healing March we needed. God delivered in both spades and diamonds of pure dew every morning.
All of us neighbors gathered in Carrygerry Country House down the road for a neighbors’ night last weekend. A huge fire blazed in the courtyard of the old house.
We sang and we danced and we drank and met people we had not met before from some of the new houses, and it was special. National woes of all kinds were banished far away. It was good. Informative too.
I wrote a piece the previous week for a farming paper about the language we use to communicate with our animals, especially when calling them for their food.
Everybody knows the clicking sound we use with horses and the "sucky! Sucky!" call that brings calves up to their feeding buckets, and the "chucky!" call that brings the hungry hens running.
But, I asked, how do you summons a pig to your presence? And what is the correct sound to communicate with a goat?
I got many emails telling me that "hurrish! Hurrush!" will attract any pig within range, but dammit, nobody was able to help with the call for a goat until I met a man at the neighbors’ night. He informed me that "bon! Bon! Bon!" will do the job splendidly!
Many of you living in urban settings will be unlikely to need such information today, but file it away anyway for your next Irish trip. It could come in useful!
And speaking of Irish trips reminds me of the furor which has developed on our Irish Central site over the mild complaints which a decent young visitor to Ireland -- Simon? -- made following his recent trip. He listed 10 irritants which he encountered during his stay and seemed to draw the wrath of hundreds down upon his head for so doing.
Everybody seemed not to have read his statement that overall he enjoyed himself here and, critically, would be returning to Ireland when he gets the chance. That was the clincher surely.
And dammit if a visitor wishes to list a few irritants attached to his visit, well, he is entitled to do so. Furthermore, Simon was listing some useful tips on his list, and his comment about nighttime flights landing you jet-lagged at dawn into a world where you could not get into your hotel room before noon was certainly justified.
I salute the man and will be delighted to meet him and buy him a pint when he returns. What he said was largely constructive criticism.
I do disagree, though, with his view that non-Irish service staff like barmen and waiters dilutes the power of the traditional Cead Mile Failte. In my experience an eternally smiling and happy Filipino front-of-house person greatly enhances the warmth of our welcome. And you get your food and drink faster too.
I live happily here the year around and, dammit again, I have a list of irritants about my own place which is three times longer and much harsher than Simon's.
I don't write about them half often enough, but they are there. Realities such as poor road signage and gross overcharging across many service areas deserve to be highlighted.
I recall the amazement of an English friend who was driving from Limerick to Dublin for the first time along the Naas carriageway and phoned me back to say he had seen a large sign bearing just the word "KILL" on his journey. I had to tell him it was the name of a local village!
It is a reality that farmers with trailers attached to their tractors, especially in the upcoming silage season, are more lethal than two truckloads of Libyan rebels. It is another reality that thieves lurk around scenic and tourism areas where cars park in numbers and would steal the eye out of your head. They are now even stealing huge metal sculptures from the side of the road.
And you can be unlucky enough, in one of our small and fabled country pubs, to be presented with a pint of stout that will put you in a bed very close to a bathroom for the rest of your holiday.
But I suppose that is life as she is lived here and everywhere else. And no man who visits a strange land should be criticized as much as Simon has been for mildly listing a few things about Ireland which he did not like. Fair play to the man.
It is the early afternoon now. This piece represents the only work I have to do until dusk. The sun is shining and I am now finished with it.
I am going to walk down to the Honk in a few minutes and have a pint of beer. It will be crisp and cool and pleasant.
There will be a few early regulars there if I am lucky and, at the earliest possible moment, I will amaze them with the information that the proper way to summons a goat is "Bon! Bon!"