Well the panic station weeks of April are thankfully now over and Helen is recovering well at home under my immaculate and dutiful nursing skills. The District Nurse now sees her every other day to tend the massive wound which became infected after the angiogram procedure and had to be operated on twice to remove dead flesh. However it should be fully healed by the end of the first week in June. May I say here that the District Nurse service for North Roscommon centred in Boyle is as fine an organization as you could possibly want. It operates on a seven day a week basis and is staffed by a fine team of lady nurses, chatty, humorous and most importantly very able. Arriving like clockwork at the appointed time although covering a massive area. A special thanks to Nurse Cait Daley who has done most of the dressings, for her close attention to Helen.
At this moment we are going through the grinding Out-Patient charade, where every man and his dog who thought he or she had some hand in Helen’s case wants to see her and do not much else. Most of these visits are a complete waste of time and money and must be a mighty drain on the Health budget. For us Sligo Hospital is a 70 mile round trip and takes four hours to complete and Galway Hospital is a 160 mile round trip and you could write off the whole day. We have been to two on separate days at Sligo this week and two more at Galway next week with a further one in Sligo the week after and that is only round 1.
Helen is good, starting to do little bits around the house under my supervision. A little ironing, washing up and a little bit of cooking. I allow this because it is important that she keeps her hand in and does not lose the deft touches she has picked up in over 43 years of blissful marriage. She has of course one or two problems still not sorted out but she is brave enough not to let it worry her. She has lost a good bit of weight, she now weighs 60 Kgs but under my meticulous culinary care her appetite is improving slowly but surely.
We are having some glorious weather in these last few weeks of May and I am sure the sun is helping the recuperation process. The garden is in a great state after a week of spring cleaning. The hard standings have all been power-washed to remove the winter build up of moss. The grass on the lawn has been cut to within an inch of its life and the edges strimmed. A new pin comes to mind.
Our greatest pleasure at this time is sitting out on the verandah after dinner, coddling a glass of wine as the sun pours its penultimate rays down on us from the west. We watch the small birds, robins, bullfinches, greenfinches and dunnocks as they gorge themselves on the organic porridge oats we leave out for them and after satisfying themselves bring a beak full back to their loved ones during this nesting season. Our pair of robins have been with us all winter and the cock soon lets us know when the bowl is empty. He sits on the newel post of the balustrade which runs round the verandah and looks mournfully into the kitchen.
While the oats are getting their evening hammering, the martins are flitting about in their last insect frenzy of the day. They return to us every year from Africa at the beginning of May to the same nests as last year and if for some reason the nest has been destroyed they set about rebuilding it in the same place. They have to get a move on because they have sometimes three litters to care for before flying back the way they came in September.
The hanging baskets are in full bloom, likewise the white lilac and magnolia bushes that stand sentinel in the middle of the garden. The wisteria which we brought with us from Manchester 10 years ago is enjoying its best year yet and the drooping lilac bunches cover the balustrade, around the gutter and along the herring bone strutting in the roof. The shame is that its flowering season is short and the petals drop off in a lilac snow storm after only a few weeks but it does have a less profuse flowering in September.
The Crumpety Tree at the bottom of the garden, which is an amalgam of hawthorn and elder gets more fairy story-ish as the years pass by. The white hawthorn blossom is just appearing and the elder flower blossom still green and will npot be mature for at least a month. Helen then picks it and makes elder flower wine and cordial. Let us hope she is up to it this year. Sitting here this evening with our glass of wine sure makes the heart feel good and hopefully Helen’s heart is of the same opinion.
As I write a greenfinch has just dive-bombed a dunnock from its place on the porridge bowl, helped itself to a morsel and sped off. We have placed the bowl on a hanging basket under a large bunch of wisteria. This stops the large birds, the blackbirds and magpies raiding. They have enough to eat in the freshly mown lawn which they share with the wood pigeon, thrush and occasional pheasant.
Further along the garden, through the elevated section which is covered with pink granite chippings, the troughs of herbs, rosemary, chives, fennel,. thyme and mint are thriving and at my elbow the trailing begonias are in full bloom hanging out of their boxes along the west side of the verandha and beyond the begonias the lavatera is in bud and within a week we should have a mass of pink flowers.
Our rocking chair is vacant at the moment trembling in the slight evening breeze. It has already seen ten of these annual cycles, nothing impresses it but it remains as good as the day I constructed it all those years ago. Beyond the lavatera our boat lies on its trailer in the driveway, pristine after my son cleaned it of its winter grime and it now waits to be put back on the lake again.
Everything is tensed and at the same time relaxed. Life at this moment is great. However we have still a few hurdles to jump but that is the future, let us enjoy the moment and the glorious late Spring.