The tall tree casts its long shadow at dawn in weak sunlight; winter is beginning to ease. Snowdrops catch little of the hint of warmth in still air. Cool but not cold. These Galanthus nivalis could be from the mountains in Turkey, from a valley far above the Black Sea, where we have never been.
Our Snowdrops in the garden were planted by a previous owner, a different family and a different generation. Snowdrops from Crimea, from the Balkans, from the First World War. Ottoman trophies – a few bulbs brought home in soldier’s luggage – memories of friends lost in the chaos and misadventure of war.
The Snowdrop varieties here in our garden at home are the same as growing at the big houses of North Kildare. Snowdrops as a signature of social cohesion, a society within a society, traded as presents among gardeners. Snowdrops in the garden are in a white sward, just across from a granite milepost in a limestone wall, 33 Irish Miles from Dublin, marked on Taylor’s Map of Kildare in the 1770s.
During Iris’s tenure over 50 years, the Snowdrop lawn was augmented with many bulbs. The planted Crocuses and Scilla, Hyacinths and Chinodoxa, Bluebells and Snowflakes, Daffodils and Fritillaries will remain for us, as vestiges to her memory as a friend lost, as we look forward to Snowdrops, as the first signals of Spring.
The new butter, when accidentally disturbed during a rummage in the fridge, slid, accelerated and then leapt out from the shelving a six-sided foil wrapped Kerrygold medal hopeful in synchronised diving. One of its corners got flattened by the floor and now it gathered itself together as a seven faced one-pound lump. Opening the foil, one could see the imprint of the packing machine on the butter surface contrasted with the bruise ripples, forming a fresh texture on the butter surface, that no professional butter carver would leave. A tear in the butter foil was the last piece of evidence before the butter carver’s toaster popped in the Cistin in Corracloona, focussed attention, not on the tear in his trousers, having been over a barbed wire fence, but rather the initial cutlery marks necessary to butter potato cake farls.
Up here in Kiltyclogher, Stella has us eating the best boxty and potato bread. All we are missing is an Andre to ask to put a bit of Butter on the spuds. French speakers are a rarity in Kilty, and perhaps our butter eating, potato appreciating, neighbours, might resume some butter smuggling.
The Monk’s butter from Glenstal, comes in rolls, so would make interesting geometric shapes in the middle of the night, during fridge rummaging accidents, if one got a hankering for some Ulster Farls with freshly melting butter after a go in the toaster. Even if the toaster goes, Stella has them too, and Kettles, all the essentials, for a Cistin, and dry socks, if your feet get wet, when the Wellington finally gets punctured, crossing a barbed wire fence, between Meenagh and Corracloona, that the deer cross, and jump over, not that Ralph, pronounced Ralf, in the box room in Kilty minds.
For a Sunday walk today, we decided to go to Meenagh. Rather I announced we are going to Meenagh to make a species list and get photographs for a Hedgeucation talk. I have to format the abstract book, for the meeting on Thursday online. Phytopathological strolls are the brainchild of a French scientist, Dr. F. Suffert who is presenting on Thursday, via the computer, via Backweston and the Society of Irish Plant Pathologists’ annual meeting. Like a Leitrim Hurler, one cannot tarry long. By the time we got to the turn we were up to Ascocoryne sarcoides and back to a Typhula and Propolis versicolor on an ash. Phragmidium violaceus was there. Hypholoma fasciculare, Clitocybe nebularis, and Armillaria mellea inter alia. Unfamiliar species with leaf damaging symptoms caused by something fungal were on Hazel, Rhododendron, and several other woody plant leaf types. Getting ready for a biodiversity session in the conference will take a few days concentration yet, we do it to really communicate with the public, and to swell our ranks with people who are prepared to puzzle over something external and aim to get a Latin name for the annals of biological records of Ireland.
Now about our readers, hope you have all been healthy, and the ones that read and write, have promised to write an email. I left my display book after Saturday lunch in Clancy’s Lavender in Glenfarne, in a Lavender Purple display book, All the stories, essays and poems are online on the lichenfoxie, so while it would be good to arrange recovery on Monday, we are busy in Corracloona writing full tilt, and maybe something surprising might just make its way back in the letter box in Corrocloona, While online I need to thank Jim Clancy and Raymond’s deputy for sending out 4 bags of Madra, the best dog food in Glenfarne, in the early stages of the lockdown last year. So back to the phytopathological strolls – a lockdown reaction – have a go on a lane in Leitrim near you, and see what fungally caused spots are what on leaves in the hedgerows. Dr Suffert on Twitter has guided many people into this biodiversity enlightenment, Bravo, Vive La France, Vive Leitrim, Treasure Leitrim for biodiversity, not for base metals.