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I like to write and I like to party, but mostly just the writing. Disclaimer: A lot of these stories are true ones. The memory of growing-up in and around Killybegs. When you hold a mirror up to small communities, sometimes there are those who don't like the reflection. Capote knew this only too well. If you find the refraction just a little too much and would like the angle of incidence changed in your favor, please email me at georgevial@hotmail.com and I will be happy to make a name change here or there.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Snow and Salt and a Big Hill

Snow, it never fecking snows in Ireland. We get sleet, hail, slush, really cold rain, hail stones, we get all the stuff that’s like snow, but we never get the real deal. So when it mother nature finally winks at us and sends us those nice big puffy snow flakes, the kind you can make snowmen and snowballs out of, we are to say the least: very fecking excited.

It was Christmas 1985, around my seventh birthday and the snows came. Jesus Christ, it was like a fecking movie, snow on the ground Christmas morning. Derek and I had been praying like mad for snow, in between prayers for rain in Ethiopia. After opening all our Santy toys, we laced up our Doc Martin boots and went outside and walked all the way up to the McCourt’s house to play with the Zoids they got from Santy.

By the time we got to their house our fingers were so cold we could barely untie our shoes and for a brief moment I wished it wasn’t so cold, then I realized it could be years before we got this quality of snow again and tried not to complain.

The snow was starting to freeze and most roads were impassable, especially St. Cummin’s Hill where we lived. Cars tried in vain to go up or down it without slithering all the way to the bottom. But all the kids on the Hill were having a blast, sliding down on bin liners, fertilizer bags and rubbish bin lids. God, we were all delirious with enjoyment, it was the best Christmas present ever to the kids of Killybegs.

However, after a few days of no-go-traffic, Dad was getting a little annoyed, because his newly emerging company, C-Fish, was run out of our home on the hill and he couldn’t get his fish van to make deliveries. He put the old brain to work and came up with a plan. He had big bags of salt he used for salting fish and loaded his Lite-Ace van up with a few bags. Himself and John-Joe Dowd’s shoveled salt all the way up the hill making a path about the thickness of a car. But when the kids saw the salt melting the snow they began to kick it to stop it melting their snow and for a brief few moments there were cries of joy as the snow stopped melting. Then there were cries of frustration as the snow began melting all over the hill.

All the kids on the Hill looked at us like we were leapers, they said all kinds of nasty words about us and our father. We tried to argue that he was only making a small path and that they were the ones that kicked it all over the hill. They weren’t buying it, we were instant outcasts and the stigma of being the children of the man that melted the snow stayed with us for ages. Even after the holidays were over and we were all back at school, people would say snide remarks to Derek and me “Your father ruined Christmas.”

1 comment:

Jeanne said...

George, such a lovely story and some of which we discussed. Would love to talk more on the subject. My family of the South (Capital "S") has much the same sentiment. My mother was thrilled that I was in love with horses, as her father was, but leary (sp?) of the cost and all that the "love" entailed. Also interested in your perspective on the the English/Irish relationship or lack there of. Which we have not spoken of, but which I have strong feelings about. Wrongly or rightly; and am willing to hear and discuss. Have often been accused of being a "terrorist" (IRA sympathist). Not really sure, but would love to discuss futher.