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Thursday, July 12, 2018

Ducks Unlimited

Our Emerald Isle- O'Brian's Black and Tan
Diary Entry - Ducks Unlimited

 “So you see gents, when the ice freezes over only the power of the polar bear or man using tools can break through and survive.” I was just finishing up regaling once again the throngs that hung on everyone word of my stories about the Last Frontier while indulging in their quarts and pints at our pup in Devere.

 What a great job I had even if I did have to bar-tend that evening. Brian was off visiting some lady friend of his in Dublin that showed up unexpectedly from the states and of course Traci was at the library studying Irish literature she claimed. Bev and Ray the Raven along with Abdul where in the kitchen conjuring up a bisque recipe that can be made from sea weed or so Abdul claims.

 Everyone seemed very impressed with my yarn except of O’Shannasey. He just stooped over his pint and ignored the whole story. Although he was the only one, it did stick in by craw a little. I said, “O’Shannasey, you don’t believe my story? ‘tis the truth, I swear by the Ferries of Banshee County.”

 “Oh, I believe you mate, it is just that I am not that impressed. I think you are making a bigger deal out of it than it deserves. I mean it is fine thing to do to break the ice up for various reason but unless you are saving a life like that of a whale or changing the contour of geography for the better than it is of little consequence. I mean at least here in O’Malley County when we did have a cold spell nature and man got together and literally changed the world. Or at least that part of the world that affected Mallard County just three counties over.” So said O’Shannasey as he went back to bending over his pint.

 Ok, I thought now this is a story I have to hear. “OK, O’Shannasey, you won, let me hear your story and yes, yes I know it will cost me a pint.” O’Shannasey didn’t move. “OK, Ok, make it a quart.”

 “Well,” O’Shannasey began, “It was the best duck season anyone could remember. The ducks seemed to land on our lake just west of here out side of town by the thousand.”

 “Wait a minute O’Shannasey, there is not lake on the outskirts of town except Lake Donnie Mann and that is east not west.”
 O’Shannasey: “You want me to finish this story or not? ( I kept quiet) Like I was saying ducks were numerous but then the game warden showed up and he told us that we could not shoot the ducks anymore this year and had to wait till the following year. He said it had to do with conservation and to insure that there would be ducks for our children’s children to enjoy.

 “One of the boys thought that since it was sort of a fluke that the ducks came here this summer in so many numbers why didn’t we make sure they come back next summer in fact why not fix it up so that they don’t even leave. We had a bumper crop of corn so if we just kept feeding them and provide some hay for them to nest in why would they have to leave at all. Seemed logical to all of us meaning us the duck hunters.

 “So around September we started feeding the ducks corn, bread scarps and any eatable thing we thought a duck might like. They seemed to like everything especially fried green tomatoes for some reason.

 “Because the ducks swam around in a circle a lot the water didn’t freeze like most winters. The kids were a little miffed to lose their ice skating place but they had little to say about it. But then it happened, it was around February I believe. It was a freak of nature. It was one of those things that animal evolution is made of. It was something that just can’t be explained but happened none the less. A bitter cold spell hit, the temperature dropped to a record level so quickly that the ice froze solid instantly. Water freezes faster than animal tissue so the ducks were trapped in the water, now ice, and the only thing they could move were beaks, necks and wings. The several thousand ducks through instincts I guess all started squawking and flapping their wings. They knew if they did not move out of the area they would freeze to death.

" As if they all had one mind, the flapping of wings became more intense and frenzied that the whole frozen lake rose as one block of ice and carried three counties away by the flapping ducks were it was warmer and the ice just melted off the duck’s legs and dropped into an area of Mallard County that needed the water to irrigate their newly planted cherry orchards.

 “Unfortunately the ducks never returned in such numbers again, being no lake they were interest in you see or perhaps they were just terrified and didn’t want to take a chance of history repeating itself.” I drew another quart for O’Shannasey. I knew when I had been defeated.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Potato Day

Brian and I were staying up late drinking our usual black and tan.  Abdul had gone to bed much earlier due to some religious holiday he seems to come up with all the time.  Bev and Ray the Raven were in the kitchen concocting some sort of special desert for tomorrow’s noon day crowd.  How Ray the Raven was helping I am really not sure.  Traci of course was still on her date and no telling when she would be home. 

Brian and I were just about to give it up for the evening when Traci came home dragging one of the local home boys by the arm.  “Brian, Snapper, you got to hear this, go get Bev she ought to hear it also.”  Bev came from the kitchen wiping her hands with a dishtowel with Ray the Raven resting upon her shoulder. “Got to hear what?” I said.

“Tell’em Scott,” Traci said.

“Well it isn’t that big a deal,” Scott the home boy began.  “I just happened to ask what Devere’s was planning to do this year for Potato Day.”

All but Scott had puzzled expressions.  Even Ray the Raven cocked his head to one side like he knew what was being talked about and I am not sure half the time he doesn’t know.  “Ok,” young man Brian said, “I’ll bite what are you talking about?  Potato Day?  I’ve never heard of it.  What’s that, some sort of day when we all dress up like potatoes and parade up and down the street?”

It was Scott’s turn to looked puzzled.  “I thought you never heard of it, how did you know?  Traci, you tell them I am getting confused and crossed signals from your brother and by the looks of the rest of your family them too.”

“Oh, alright,” Traci said, “ I’ll do the explaining.  While you two over protective big brothers hang around this pub of ours in the evening I have been going down to the library studying up on local history.  I came across an article in the news paper archives a bout last year’s Potato Day celebration.  It sounded fun but wondered if it was true or not.  You know Snapper, you have always said that facts should not get in the way of a good story.  Anyway I went to the head librarian, which just so happens to be Scott here, and asked him about Potato Day.  He confirmed the authenticity of the piece and was surprised no one had mentioned it to us already.”

“That’s about right sir,” said Scott.  “All the businesses in the village sponsor an entry and if you don’t you might find your selves being shunned regardless if you are the only drinking establishment in the village.  It’s the third most sacred holiday in Devere.”

“Why is it so sacred?” Bev asked.

“According to tradition there were a band of monks that could no longer stand the dictatorial way their Abbot conducted business in the monastery.  They were always being told what to do and how to do it, from the way the prayed to the way they ate.  Life of a monk is hard, chaste, and full of poverty, but their religious leader was going beyond what they thought appropriate.  Apparently the Irish Clan King that had established the order agreed with the Abbot and refused to acknowledge a new Abbot when a vote of the monks took place.  Some of monks felt they had no choice but to leave and find a safe haven where they could practice their faith the way they felt was God’s call.

“They walked for days which turned into months and just when they had run out of provisions they were befriended by a group of Fairies.  The Fairies took them in, provided shelter and fed them over the winter.  They taught the monks how to grow potatoes so they would become self sufficient in the future and even helped them build a monastery which eventually became our church here in Devere.

“After the first year harvest of their first crop of potatoes a celebration of thanks was in order.  As the population grew so did the celebration of thanks and like most holidays started taking on modern characteristics until it became what it is. 

“On or about the fourth Saturday after the third Sunday after the first full moon in November the whole town gathers in the square.  Each person dresses up like a potato and they march from the square to the church where a celebration of thanks is given.  You have to figure out what you all will wear this year.”  Traci concluded.

The story had a familiar ring and I tried to figure out why but my pondering was soon over taken by the practicalities of trying to figure out what kind of apparel could be made to look like a potato that wouldn’t make us all look like Mr. Potato Head.  However I was sure that Bev could figure out something.  As Bev was tossing out different ideas about how we would dress and what kind of potato we would dress like, Traci said that Bev did not have to concern herself with what Traci would wear or what kind of potato she would be.

Traci and Scott looked at each other with a moon struck puppy dog expression and Scott said, “Traci will be my sweet potato this year.”

Brian and I looked at each and rolled our eyes.  I guess Traci will be spending a lot more time at the library from now on.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

pickle Piercing

Our Emerald Isle – Pickle Piercing

 Abdul had learned a lot from Bev about food preparation and restaurant/pub logistics and he was very appreciative, so much so he has started teaching her the art of pickle piercing and she is making such good progress she is about to order her own pickle piercer.  One cannot use another’s pickle piercer once the training is over they both tell me.

Devere recently has become known far a wide for its wonderful tasting pickles.  It is a  phenomena I am beginning to expect I owe to Abdul.  Our pickles have a unique taste that has been written about in culinary magazines all over Ireland.  I claim it is an old Irish recipe handed down generation after generation by family members,  but that is really not the case.  I have no real specific idea why our pickles taste the way they do and recent enlightenments have made be decide I don’t want to. 

To get the best tasting pickles one has to retrieve them from the bottom of the barrel.  This had always been done by dipping one’s arm into pickle vat up to the armpit and search the bottom until the pickle with just the right texture and firmness was found.  Abdul thought this very unsanitary so he thought of a method to retrieve pickles from the bottom of the barrel by mechanical means. 

During his days off Abdul would spend time with the cemetery care taker, Peter Peck.  Sometimes Peter would ask Abdul if he wanted to pick up some extra spending money by helping him probe old cemetery plots.  Peter said that the church records had been sloppily kept in years past and sometimes when digging a new grave they would come upon a vault, casket, or even a body buried with out either and would have to hurriedly  find another place to dig thus wasting a lot of time and effort. Abdul had a knack for and enjoyed grave probing for some reason and quickly learned to tell if a site was occupied or not by piercing the ground with the iron rod and feeling the thud of a vault, the cracking of a casket or the squishiness of pierced dead  flesh.

Abdul, always being a resourceful sort, thought the same process might work retrieving pickles from the bottom of the barrel and much more sanitary. On his own he ordered his own grave probing device, an iron device three and half feet long and one eight inch round, from the Interment Implement Company of Belfast He made some modifications and in no time at all he could retrieve a pickle from the bottom of the barrel with out said pickle ever touching a human hand other than the person doing the ordering.

One afternoon Abdul received a phone call from the Parish Priest and told to hurry to the cemetery.  The Widow Twilly had just died and they needed to put her in the ground fast and Peter Peck was suffering from the gout.  Abdul went to the pickle barrel grabbed the pickle piercer and ran toward the door.  I had a sickening feeling what was going to happen.

“Abdul, why don’t you leave the pickle piercer here,” I yelled, “we might need it.”

“Well might you might but not as much as the Widow Twilly might.  Besides not to worry boss every time I have used it in the past I clean it up real good.”

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Our Emerald Isle – Fairy Tale

  It was around closing time. Brian was taking inventory of the liquor and other odds and ends that had just come up while Traci was talking to one bloke, looking at another and probably thinking of someone else. Bev was in the kitchen preparing cherry humus and a couple of sack lunches, Abdul was busy sweeping and mopping the floor, and Ray the Raven was flittering around the pub snagging crumbs left by sloppy patrons. I was recovering from a busy night of socializing with the patrons and decisions that management needs to make due to unexpected events while sipping on a black and tan.  All was normal, just a couple of things out of the ordinary but then again that was normal.

Just as I was thinking that my latest endeavor to help those less fortunate, meaning anyone other than my pub family, was a success, two men entered the pub. They were dressed in fedoras, trench coats belted at the waist, and very serious looking. I recognized what but not who they were. Garda. Cops look the same all over the world. The best I can describe a Garda is that they are a cross between the RCMP, State Troopers, County Sheriffs, Scotland Yard, and the FBI.

They flashed their badges while introducing themselves as Detective Sergeant Tinker and Detective Inspector Darling. They said they wanted some information. “We are looking for a couple of Fairies that are suspected of robbing the National Bank of Ireland in Hook Country yesterday, and we have followed their trail to the door of your pub. Anything ring a bell?”

“Well we get a lot of people in here but I usually know most everyone. I don’t recall specifically seeing anyone that would match a Fairies description from what I have read about them for the most part recently. Feel free to look around.” I said realizing that I had technically not told any lies to the Garda.

For those of you who don’t know about Fairies let me back up and give you a little information. First of all Fairies can change size and appear human, have green eyes and give off a slight radiance. They never age or so it seems. They are even tempered but when in a fight they like to bite. They treat nice people, places, and things nicely and bad people, places, and things badly. You never say thank you to a Fairy you just give them something that will guarantee remembrance. Some say that they are a race that went into hiding years ago and just now emerging into society and having a tough time coping with the complexities of non Fairy civilization. I feel sorry for Fairies, they must have a hard life trying to fit in a society that one time felt like they needed to be chastised and rediculed for being different. For all their difficulties a Fairy cannot lie. He may try to confuse you with words but he will never tell you a complete falsehood nor the complete truth if it is to his advantage to do so. It is an art form that those of us who have practiced politics know well. I am a law biding citizen and would never break the law unnecessarily but I have always thought that law and justice might be two different animals. I do not condone stealing as such and if someone is caught red handed in any criminal act they should be some what punished.

 From what the Garda told me the National Bank of Ireland in Hook County was owned by a man named J. M .Barrie a ruthless and cunning man so I have heard across the bar. Garda Tinker and Darling said the clock was ticking and wanted to catch up with the culprits before they reached Never Landing, a swampy area just a few more leagues down the road. They said once the duo got to Never Landing they would melt into what is the largest Fairy community in Ireland and be almost impossible to apprehend because “they are all the same you know,” said one of Irelands finest..

If anyone knew the seedier side of our community I told them it would be my brother Brian. I called him from the back room and they asked him the same sort of questions I was asked. He gave the same information I had which was little and none but did it in such a slow and stuttering manner, I suspected they thought he was the village half wit.

Brian and I felt under no obligation to give the Garda more information than they had requested. We believed the Fairies to be innocent in their own way. Mr. Barrie had foreclosed on their mother’s farm while they had been fighting in the Banshee War several years ago and was a very bad man and Fairies do bad things to bad people and besides they told me they had not robbed the bank and taken all they were accused of taking. They believed Mr. Barrie took the additional amount. They were making their escape out the backdoor while the Garda were talking to Brian with his made up stammering and stuttering. Between the two of us the two Fairies, Peter and Windy, had a good chance of getting to Never Landing. I offered the two Garda a drink on the house but they declined and said they had to be on their way that it looked like rain and the Fairy dust they were following would be washed away if they did not hurry. As soon as they left our pub I told Abdul to hurry up and start washing down the ally in the direction of the north star which just so happened to be in the direction of Never Landing

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Darwin Cherries

Our Emerald Isle – Darwin Cherries

While out on one of my weekend walk-a-bouts I came across a grove of trees that after closer examination was an orchard.  Not being one who knows one tree from another I was not sure what type of orchard it was.  It was very well kept and I noticed that in between the rows of trees there were potato hills.   

I sat down to rest when I noticed an old man walking between the trees and mounds straight towards me.  I figured he was the owner and going to tell me I was trespassing and for me to leave.  Quite the contrary.  He introduced himself as Jamie O’Rilley and yes he was the owner of the orchard and the trees were cherry. He was a very nice sort of chap and talkative too.

He told me he had been developing this cherry orchard for over 20 years and it produced more cherries per tree than any other like size orchard in the country, possibly the world.  I told him that I really never associated Ireland with cherry trees and he responded that is normally the case but for some reason they seemed to flourish in these parts.  “Even the horticultural society in Belfast can’t explain it.  But here it is.”

“Have you always grown cherries?” I asked.

“No, like most people in these parts I use to grow potatoes but like most people it was boom or bust each season.  I was reading a catalogue one winter and decided to order a couple of cherry tree seedlings.  Just for fun if for no other reason.  I mean how excited can one get over potatoes?

“When the seedlings arrived I followed the instructions very carefully and it seems like in no time at all I had some sprouts and the next thing you knew I was able to plant some between potato rows.  It was just a hobby at that point.  I really never expected to see any cherries.  However after a couple of years or so there were some blossoms and then the biggest reddest best looking cherries I had ever seen appeared.  I was just about ready to pick my first harvest when a flock of birds swooped down and ate every last one of them cherries right off the limbs. 

“Well I was a little annoyed but it was not a great loss for I had very little money tied up in the endeavor but I took it as a real challenge and decided to outwit the birds.  The next winter I got a bunch of rubber snakes and hung them from the branches.  I had read that birds do not like snakes and thought that my decoy of sorts would scare them off.  The next spring, blossoms, cherries, bigger and better than the year before, but the birds came again.  I guess that since there are no snakes in Ireland the birds didn’t know they should be afraid of them.  I was not deterred.

“The next winter I hung aluminum pie plates and strips from the branches.  I thought that perhaps the glitter from the constant swaying in the sunlight would confuse the birds and even create an obstacle for them to land on the branches and eat my cherries.  Well as you can guess that didn’t work either.

“I decided that cherries were not in my future and I would just let the trees go to seed and fend for themselves.  At least I would be feeding the birds through a natural process. 

“It was around Christmas when I received a tin of popcorn from by cousin in America.  It contained three different colored kinds of popcorn -  yellow, caramel, and red.  The yellow had a cheesy sharp cheddar taste much to my liking, the caramel as you would suspect tasted of caramel and satisfied my sweet tooth, the red would be cinnamon I assumed.  When I tried the red it was cinnamon but it tasted terrible and burnt the inside of my mouth.  I spit it out immediately.  Who would eat this more than once was my first thought.  Then on my second thought it dawned on me. 

“After the last snow of the winter while the snow was a crystal white I spread the hot cinnamon popcorn, doused by a little red pepper, on the ground under the cherry trees.  The birds spotted the red specks on the ground and welcomed the early food supply.  However, when they started eating the red popcorn it tasted to them like it did to me but even worse.  They started identifying red with a hot bitter taste which they found repugnant and looked for another food supply as it turned out. 

“That spring the blossoms came the cherries came and they have been coming ever since.  The birds have returned but they are attracted to the insects that can ruin a potato crop and the additional insects that are drawn to cherries and not the cherries themselves.  The birds don’t leave this inexhaustible food supply of insects thus increasing the fertilization required for my cherry trees and potato plants.  Not only do I now have a huge cherry crop each year I haven’t had a bad year growing potatoes for a long time.

“Each year I add a few more trees, throw out some hot cinnamon popcorn laced with red pepper, and the result is what you see.  I sell most of the product under the brand name of Darwin and have made a comfortable living.”

“Darwin, Darwin Cherries, uh, why not O’Rilley, Devere, or O’Malley cherries after you or the community?”

“Oh, I don’t know the name just seemed to me like a natural selection.”

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Lake Donnie Mann

Our Emerald Isle – Lake Donnie Man

Lake Donnie Man is the largest lake in the County of O’Malley As one might expect it was named after a chap called Donnie Mann some years ago but until just recently that was all I knew.  Partly because I never bothered to ask. 

A man will lie to his wife.  He will lie to his priest.  He will lie to the police.  In fact a man will lie to just about anyone or anything if he thinks the truth will cause him pain or embarrassment or increase or decrease his status in the community.  One person though he will never lie to is his pub keeper no more than I would fabricate my blog entries.    

It was late.  Devere’s Pub was about to close.  The last patron was Shamus O’Malley.  Outside the wind picked up and the shutters blew open.  Shamus although a few cups into his own wind helped me close and secure the window shutters.  For his help I drew him one more pint and we began to chat.  As he was about to finish his free brew I indicated it was time to leave but felt a little bad about putting him out in the pounding wind and rain.  He was feeling about the same I guess because he asked me if he could stick around a little longer.  Well he looked so low I couldn’t say no so I drew another pint, which he bought by the way, and we continued our aimless conversation. 

We finally got around to talking about fishing, which finally led me to ask how Lake Donnie Mann got its name, more rhetorical than anything else.  I did not expect illumination let alone a saga.  He hunched over his beer, looked over his shoulder like he was making sure no one was around and said, “Since you have shown me some kindness I will relate to you a story told to me by my Grandfather.  It is not a secret story but no one believes it except me and I have been made fun of more than once in my telling.  Grandfather was an honest man and he swore to me that what I am about to relate is a true story and I believe him.  I have no children, thus no grandchildren so I might as well tell you because if I did have children they would be about your age.  After hearing what I am about to tell you  feel free to pass it on to whoever you want just be prepared that knowing the truth does not always free one from ridicule.  Not relating the story as often I think it deserves has burnt a hole in my soul for many years.  I have been afraid I would die without anyone believing me, and I sense you will.”

“Donnie Mann was a trader in salt.  He would pick up a load of salt at one end of the lake and deliver it to the villages dotted around the shore.  It was the custom in those days for people to name their boat after themselves and The Donnie Mann was known far and wide and so dominated the salt trade and other necessary cargo delivery that people started referring to the lake as Donnie Mann’s.  Donnie Mann was a proud and arrogant man and began to think of the lake as his own and its master.  However the lake had a mind of its own so it seems.

 “It was sort of a night like tonight my Grandfather said.  The wind was howling, the waves were gigantic, and it was blistering cold.  Donnie Mann had one more load of salt to deliver and he sat here in this very pub with his three man crew waiting for the storm to pass.  Put pass it did not.  Donnie Mann became impatient.  He decided to make the run across the lake to deliver his last load.  He was bound and determined to leave and collect a large fee for his even larger stash of salt this trip. Every one in the pub even his crew begged him not to go.  He would not listen and called his crew a bunch of cowards when they refused to accompany him.  He marched down to the docks, set sale, and Donnie Mann and The Donnie Mann were never seen nor heard from again or so it was in the life time of those in the pub that night.  Eventually the lake began to be called Lake Donnie Mann.” 

Well I thought that was interesting but it didn’t seem much like a story others would not believe and ridicule, and I told him so.

“Me lad, that is only half the story.”  He continued:  “Many, many years later a fishing boat came across a drifting derelict floating aimlessly far from shore.  The crew of the fishing boat realized that the boat was crewless and must have been abandoned, so  thoughts of salvage took the place of fishing. 

“When they boarded they searched for cargo but found none.  They did not understand why the boat had been abandoned because it was in pretty good shape. Their search eventually led them to the helm where they found the ship’s log.  Having a some what limited interest in books they did realize however it might help to secure salvage rights.  Instead of reading the log right away they gave it to the youngest member of the crew for safe keeping.  That was my  Grandfather.

“They secured the boat for towing and headed towards land.  It had been a clear day but from out of nowhere a northern squall appeared.  It was like the lake had its own idea about salvage rights that day and did not want to give up the boat and claim it as its own.  Both boats were capsized and sunk with all hands lost, save my Grandfather who was found two days later clinging to the side of an over turned dingy.

“At the formal inquest at the Maritime Court held in Dublin an investigation tried to determine what had actually happened to the fishing boat.  They called my Grandfather to give testimony.  They believed him about the storm, the capsizing, and the loss of the crew.  When asked if there was any indication as to the name of the boat trying to be salvaged is when doubt crept into the proceedings.  ‘Twas called The Donnie Mann me Lord,’ Grandfather told the Court.  From that statement he would not budge although he was laughed at and threatened with imprisonment for piracy gone awry.

“More rational thought finally prevailed given my Grandfathers youth and the Court took pity on Grandfather and cleared him of any wrong doing.  They did order that since The Donnie Mann had gone missing over a hundred years ago it could not have possibly been the boat in question.  The poor lad must be delusional the inquest determined and he was ordered to the Saint Patrick’s Hospital for the Insane until such time as Grandfather sort fact from fiction.  At that time and no sooner he could be released. 

“Grandfather decided after three months of incarceration that unless he changed his story he really would become insane and decided that honesty and integrity were not that important.  He petitioned the court and changed his story, saying he realized he must have been hallucinating after all.  Grandfather returned to Devere took up farming and never sailed on a ship again.”

I immediately saw a flaw in his story, an inconsistency, one that did not close the loop to any great mystery.  The story I decided was just a bunch of the blarney.  “What happened to the Ship’s Log that was given to your Grandfather? I suspect he lost it when the ships went down didn’t he?”  I was trying to give him an honorable way out of the corner he had told himself into.

“Well yes the Log was lossed.  Like I said he was floating around for two days clinging to a dingy.  Having been given the Log Book for safe keeping he had tied it around his neck.  While he was floating around he had nothing to do so he started reading the Log.  Most of the log had been ruined and he only was able to read the cover page and the last entry with any clarity and other bits and pieces.  The cover had ‘Ship’s Log: The Donnie Mann.’  Captain Donnie Mann’s last entry was ‘To much salt, ship taking on water, am foundering.’  He had always heard about Donnie Mann and realized he held an answer to a mystery in his hand.  He also realized that he would probably die alone at sea and his discovery concerning The Donnie Mann would never be known. He began to carve on the side of the dingy a very short version of what I just told you. 

“He eventually passed out and when he awoke on a life saving trawler that happened by his saviors had no knowledge of the Log and the dingy had not been retrieved.  The Log no doubt was destroyed and it and the dingy rested somewhere at the bottom of Lake Donnie Mann.  It is a story that is true, Grandfather had no reason to lie about his finding but without proof he was never believed outside the family, and spent the rest of his life walking along the lake shore early in the morning just in case the dingy had broken apart and a tell tale portion drift ashore.  If one did it may not have been actual proof of his story but it seemed more important to him the older he became.”

The wind and rain had calmed down.  We made a little toast to Donnie Mann, The Donnie Mann, Lake Donnie Mann, and finally Grandfather and bid each other a good night.

Over biscuits and coffee the next morning I was relaying the story to Bev.  She looked nonplussed but said it was a mystery but not a great mystery.  “I have heard something like that before albeit off the coast of Nova Scotia.  As I remember the story my Great Uncle Vinnie was smuggling a load of whiskey from Canada.  He over loaded the boat and when a northern squall came up the weight of the whiskey in the casks was too much and the boat went down. Uncle Vinney and the crew survived but the loss was not made known to the authorities naturally.  Some months later the boat reappeared floating about the same place where Uncle Vinney claimed it had sunk.  The Coast Guard traced the registration to a corporation in Chicago but the company did not exist naturally and those listed as company executives and board members were all dead according to Cook County records.  The Coast Guard was at a loss to explain anything.  It was Uncle Michael who postulated among the family that the whiskey had probably seeped from cracks in the kegs while on the bottom, said cracks caused by the pounding storm, lightning the load, thus allowing the ships normal buoyancy to bring it to the surface.   If The Donnie Mann was overloaded with salt the weight could have easily taken it to the bottom and when the salt eventually dissolved the ship would resurface.  If The Donnie Mann’s cargo compartments were water tight, as one would expect it to be in the salt trade, dissolving could take a long time and given the coolness of the lake bottom the wood would have rotted more slowly than normal and what little wood rot that had taken place would not have prevented it floating again.  The boat became lighter at the bottom of the lake ergo up she went.”  Well I can always count on Bev to come up with a rational solution to any mysterious encounter I come across.

Ray the Raven and I went out for our morning walk along the banks of Lake Donnie Mann as we did every morning and as every morning we passed Shamus O’Malley doing the same.  This time though we eyed each other knowingly like we shared a secret which in fact we did.  I will never be able to walk the lake shore again without keeping a look out for flat pieces of drift wood that just might have come from a dingy supposedly lost many years ago.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Our Emerald Isle - A Little Vote

Our Emerald Isle – A Little Vote

Two years ago an astounding thing happened in Devere, a Leprechaun was elected to the village council.  This had never happened before.  The Leprechaun community is not large nor were active in Devere politics before that and never seemed to agree on anything amongst themselves as a group anyway.  The Catholic and Protestant majority would always court the “Little” vote as it was referred to and now and then throw a shamrock their way but all in all the “Little” vote was not considered important let alone a threat.

From out of the green however a leader arose from the Leprechaun community that was able to pull all the different “little” factions together.  He was a little taller, a little less green and more educated than most Leprechaun’s.   His rhetoric was superb, his ability to speak about how things should be, and the wholesomeness and kindness he projected appealed to all those historically ignored and appealed to more than just a few of the Catholics and Protestants who were normally at odds with each other anyway. 

It was the first time a Leprechaun had run for office as a serious candidate and the Leprechauns along with the dwarf community voted in a block.  That along with the disenfranchised Catholics and Protestants  John Littleman was elected councilperson of District Two.  District Two just so happens to be the district Dever’s Pub is located and Dever’s has the added distinction of being the polling place for the village.  It is a great honor and I respect the fact that the sale of alcohol is not allowed until one has casts his or her vote.

After John Littleman took office it seems like he could do nothing right and was unsuccessful or least that is what the Catholics and Protestants that had not defected to John’s side contended.  They had a point because every time he would introduce a village ordinance it would either be shelved or voted down.   The promises he had made he was unable to fulfill and he took much abuse from those who were against his policies.  Most of those who were opposed to what he espoused did so because they considered his positions radical but those who were most opposed to him, were so because he was a Leprechaun.  They let those who opposed John Littleman, based on his governmental philosophy, take the lead in the vocal opposition while the anti Leprechaun forces egged the others on and financed the hate campaign hidden from critical analysis.   

John Littleman was a gentleman though and took the attacks and hidden slander in stride and just chalked it all up to politics.  Because of his success at least to being elected some other Leprechauns and one Dwarf decided to run for the council seats coming up for election this November. 

The village council has realized that if the Leprechauns, Dwarfs, and disgruntled Protestants and Catholics voted as a group again the village “will be run by a bunch of midgets,” I have heard it said more than once in Dever’s.

To counter this threat the village council passed an ordinance that stated that milk crates would no longer be provided by the village election commission for those who happened to be too short to reach the counter of the polling booth.  The ordinance went on the say however that any voter could bring their own device that would boost them vertically but only after a safety inspection certificate was provided to the election commissionaires certifying that the device used was not a hazard.

A protest was immediately made by John Littleman to the village council.  He demanded to know why after all these years such an ordinance was necessary.  In unison the other members of the council said nothing.

I don’t know if not having milk crates provided by village expense immediately made available for those wanting to cast a vote will hinder the Leprechaun and Dwarf turn out or not.  They are allowed to bring their own the ordinance says and the people who support the measure insist it is because of the liability issue and besides “what is the big deal anyway, if one is too lazy to get their own milk crate they shouldn’t vote.”  

In our weekly Dever’s Pub business meeting the matter was discussed and we thought that perhaps we could rent milk crates at the font door when people came into vote if one was needed.   Then when they finished voting they could redeem the milk crate at the bar and get a “free” drink.  Bev suggested that if people turned in a milk crate that we had not rented we would charge half of what we normally would and thus create a surplus of milk crates for the next election to be rented at a reduced price because of the decrease in capital expenditures.  How does she come up with these ideas?  Anyway I have not played politics for a long time and only getting involved now reluctantly, but the combination of doing ones civic duty and making a dollar or two is irresistible.