St. Sylvester

Getting up early is crucial. So I get up when the dark still lingers around the corner. But I know better: if you want to get away on the 17th you have to be early. I feed the cat and put on the heavy boots. These boots are made for walking. Yes, they are. The door shuts quietly behind me. Shush. The village is sound asleep. I turn right and face to my left the church St. Sylvester. I quickly pass the grocer’s wife shop and cross a smaller street, turn left and soon I am at the seafront. Above my head the sun rises, being all glitter and gold. From the distance of the shore the village looks even smaller than it is. It is not quite sure if the vast, open sea makes the village shrink or the towers of the church, St. Sylvester. Soon the buses full of tourists who booked a tour for St. Patrick’s Day will arrive, first roaming around the village before they are driven into Dublin to get drunk, as it is a tradition for this day of the year. I am not too fond of their presence. They leave the beer cans they emptied on the bus in my frontyard and think it funny to throw their cigarette butts into all our letterboxes. Happy St. Paddy’s day or so. They don’t care about the village, they hastily wolf down their breakfast and don’t look up to the silent towers of St. Sylvester. They click their photos and miss the point but that doesn’t matter for the people in Italy, France or Spain, who receive a message and look at my front- door probably wondering why a door should be the image conveyed of rural Ireland by their children. But I am long gone. I already went past the willow and nodded hello to the sheep. The sheep look back subtle and silent and not much disturbed. Crisp is the morning, silent and cold. But the rising sun, promises warmth and the spring can not be far away. I carefully swing my feet over an iron gate and wander along a narrow path that leads up to the former house of the former earl. The earl died a couple of years ago, said the grocer’s wife, who knows such things. Sometimes tourists are asking how to get to the castle and the park. But the villagers just shrug their shoulders. Even the grocer’s wife, who can’t keep a secret at all, makes a face and says: “Don’t know what you are talking about.” It took me half a year, when finally the grocer himself told me the way to the castle. It is not only a narrow path that leads up there, but a complicated one, with many corners to miss and soon you find yourself at a dead-end. “Always watch out for the cross at the top of St. Sylvester” said the grocer back then. But twice I lost sight of the church and didn’t find the castle nor the park. But maybe the castle decides who is allowed in and who not, what does one know about such things? The grocer’s wife said: The old earl was a sweet man, g*d bless him. A shame that he had no wife to look after him. Died of sadness, said the grocer’s wife and sighed deeply. The castle is silently sleeping but the lawn in front of it is wide awake. A sea of daffodils spreads out as far as your eye reaches. Here a blackbird wanders through the grass and there a seagull bathes in the sun. The old yew trees are humming their old song and the sun is all glitter and gold. I sit there and close my eyes. I think of the old earl sitting behind the windows, maybe patting an old greyhound or a black cat. Maybe not that unhappy at all as the grocer’s wife thought him to be, just carefully hiding before the eyes of the world. I walk around the park for a good while and before I get back to the village I search for the upmost top of St. Sylvester, the guide back to the world. When arriving at the main street of the village, the tourists are queuing up in front of the busses and the grocer’s wife calls out to me, : “I saved you some Scones.” When walking further down the road, I pass the open church door’s: the priest is preparing the church for a concert and carefully adjusts a blue banner: LENT is written on it in white letters. Hiya, I say and half an hour later we sit in my garden, with tea and the scones, the big black garbage bags to be filled with the visitor’s leftover’s in a minute, facing directly, because the church and my house share a long stone wall, the tower of St. Sylvester, silent and staunch and high above us mortals.

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