I had a run-in with the cops last night. Damn, the way they harass me. I had left my car near our neighborhood nine-hole golf course (yeah, that’s right, we’re talking mean streets), and my neighbor Carol drove me down to retrieve it.
It’s about 10:30 p.m. The street and the neighborhood are entirely dark and quiet. My neighbor swings her car around nose-to-nose with mine. As I get out and start toward my own car, I see headlights coming down the street. Those headlights belong to a police car and in a few seconds, I’m in a police spotlight. Here’s what goes down:
Me: (Waving my keys in a manner that can only be described as “merrily”) “Yes, this is my car!”
I continue unconcerned to my car.
Him: (spotlight still shining on me) “Um, is everything alright?”
Me: “Oh, everything’s fine! I had to leave the car here earlier, for, um, personal reasons.” [translation: none of your business why I left my car here, officer]
The officer moves the spotlight to my neighbor, who is still sitting in her car. She rolls down her window and waves. I can’t see if the wave is merry, but let’s assume it is.
Him: “Ok! Just wanted to make sure you ladies weren’t out here drinking!”
Laughing all around.
Me: (somewhat overly brightly, as we have in fact been drinking for the last two hours, just not here) “No, everything’s fine!”
He pulls away down the street a bit but doesn’t quite leave the scene. I get into my car and start it, do a K-turn and head toward home a few blocks away.
As I near my house, I see headlights behind me, and when I pull into an open space on the street the police car cruises slowly by me.
The harassment never ends.
Mornings are delivery time on Main Street, Dingle. Trucks turn up from The Mall and trundle uphill with their supplies of giftware, produce and booze to stock shops, restaurants and pubs. The biggest trucks head for the biggest shops– Fitzgeralds’ Home and Hardware and the Centra grocery store directly in front of it.
Both the hardware store and Centra are accessed by the same very small driveway, overhung with an archway apartment, and leading to a tiny parking area between the two shops.
There’s barely enough room for two cars to enter the neck of the lot. Most days someone has parked in the neck, so if a car is coming out, you can’t go in. It’s only when you’re in the neck that you can you spot available parking spaces, so you have to feel the zen before you make that fatal turn.
Often the zen fails and all you see is a queue of cars ahead of you trying to turn around and get out.
I’m terrible at girly stuff. That’s why I’m having trouble with the scallions. They have hair. Hair I’m supposed to corral into three twists of a rubber band. Two twists — fine. But on the third I snag strands of scallion hair back under the band, then snap off a healthy bulb when I try to fix it. Oops.
It’s week two at Henry Got Crops, the urban farm where I volunteer to preserve my sanity and maybe earn part of a community farm share next summer.
I take a deep breath. Cows. How long since I’ve smelled cows? I turn and see them, lined up in stalls inside the compact, white wooden building behind me. The cows are mostly white as well. And mostly quiet, so it must be past the milking.
Cows. In the west of Ireland, where I lived for 15 years, I inhaled their scent most days. I’d pass them in the field or barn, or they’d pass me on the road, heading for a summer milking. I’d find stray heifers munching grass in my back garden and navigate carefully around the occasional road-roaming bull.
Opening the garden door this morning to another sunny, steamy, Philadelphia day, everything lush, green and growing, it takes me a moment to notice the small bird perched on top of my garden chair. It’s very still. It seems to be breathing hard. I can walk right up to it and it doesn’t move.
“It’s hurt!” I think, “it needs help!” I phone my friend Celia, who knows all there is to know about who does what in Philadelphia. “Who can help me with an injured bird?” I asked. “You’re the fourth person in two days to call me about an injured bird,” she replies. “Don’t get upset, but if it’s injured and small, the mother has probably kicked it out of the nest and it won’t survive.”