Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Away from it all

I was standing on the bank above my house, and Sean Seamais went by in his boat.

"Why are you hoisting sail for now, in God's name?" I asked.

"That's more than I can tell you," he called back, "Except I have the seven cares of the mountain on my shoulders, with no end of things to do, and I'm making a start on none of them."

"It is often before now that a man pitched away his last and his awls when he had too much to face," said I.

"I'm in the same case," Sean answered. "There are people gathering seaweed.* I need turf. I have sheep to dip. I need flour. I have a wall to repair. I have a shed to rebuild. I have a trawl-line to see to and a net to prepare. I left the house now to have a day away from it all, for I couldn't decide which should be tackled first."

-- from the journals of Tomas O'Crohan of Blasket Island, February 1920, as reprinted in Island Cross-Talk.

* Seaweed was spread over fields as fertiliser.

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