Snow Goose!


In Irish legend Leprechauns bury pots of gold at the end of the rainbow, but since a rainbow can only be seen at a distance, the gold is forever illusive – and elusive. In Greek and Roman mythology, Iris – the Goddess of the Rainbow – was one of the messengers of Zeus. In Indonesian mythology, a rainbow is a bridge used by soul boats. The Arabs and the Bantu people of Africa believe the rainbow to be a divine bow for firing arrows. In Christian tradition, the rainbow represents the throne of Christ. All very sweet and romantic, and nothing wrong with any of them – may they all be true – to whoever believes in them. After all, the world of fantasy isn’t such a bad place to hang out. It beats reality, hands down.

Amazing are the things that happen to good people. Of whom there are a few still about. Great fortune can sometimes smile on the decent and loveable ones – even though it far more often favours slimey bankers and pukey pollies. But enough about them – let’s do a runner to the Land of Honour, which is far away – and completely out of reach of such drongoes.

We all dream and fantasise during our nocturnal snooziness about finding an old brass-bound oaken chest in a sand dune, full of golden Roman coins – or – at the very least – silver doubloons: “Pieces of Eight, Mate!” crowed the parrot. We see in our strangely-sunlit night-world mellow-yellow clinky coins tumbling in glistering streams from the ruins of some ancient dry stone wall, lately brought down by a storm. And haven’t we the handy bucket right ready beside our good self for just such a windfall! Or maybe {ref opening para} our daydreams might involve catching some clueless leprechaun gold-guard, idly dozing a sunny evening away at the business-end of a July rainbow – not even getting on with his other job – whacking away at brogues. These unlikely events happen! Oh yes, they do! Or so my dear old Mammy told me; though evidence of her seizing said Lep was monetarily rather absent… But it must have happened to some people! thousands of our {admittedly} myth-struck imaginative ancestors can’t be wrong … You never know… You could do worse than say a quiet little prayery one to the Ms Iris, that Rainbow Queen down Mt Olympus way. After all, add an ‘aitch’ at the end of her name – and she’s ours! Jack Charlton would put a tracker on her case, for sure…

Now, while still hanging on to a smidgeon of the Christmas spirit that forced or shamed us into wishing various quare hawks ‘Happy Etcetras’ – {and the opposite – under our breaths!} – we’ll Goosey-Gander off a bit.

Let’s think about the poor woman who was dreaming awa all the cold far-off starry night, many decades ago, about a bag of gold sovereigns she found on a stretch of beautiful sunlit strand – but then woke up, still in the same freezing bleak room, with her shivering little boy and girl keeping well into her for the bit of heat… Aye, dreams are magic – which is their fatal flaw: magic is all about…well, magic. And after all the years, we know as much about it – magic being magic – as it lets us. … But we’re not going to leave that good woman with only the ruins of happy dreams; we’ll write her a better future! And it won’t cost us a bob!

Up she gets, anyway, and a saucer of porridge and a sup of milk for all three humans – herself, small son and daughter. And the very little bit left over split between Doggo Dog and Pussens – which tiny portion turned each of their beastly little ideas towards red-in-tooth-and-claw murder. Aye, that’s what hunger does to you. Thoughts of creating furry genocide amongst the local mouse community surfaced bright as moonshine in suddenly-medieval minds… These faithful decent pets knew of not many option. They were unusual in that they shared whatever was going, and never begged for more than they were given. Seeming to know that times were hard, they accepted their minute rations, and in return gave all their love to the little family – dished it out like there was no tomorrow. Which, back in those days, was no idle saying. The Daddy of the house had been taken away by cruel soldiers a long time back. Nothing heard of him since. Innocent people who asked naive questions about such matters often didn’t come back, either. Or if they did, they seldom looked as chipper in the coming as the going.

Before we proceed too far, you’ll recollect that in StoryLand, some gifted people and animals carry on conversations; such as Alice chatting to the Rabbit and the March Hare, and the Walrus yarning to the Carpenter, and so on. Children – and their Mammys – seemed to have that knack of “cross-talking” with other species, back then. When they couldn’t figure out something difficult, they’d always say “Ah, sure what’s natural isn’t wonderful;” which, though sounding wise, meant they hadn’t a clue. In the early strands of this tale, the Mam had warned the littlies not to ‘go on too much about the cross-talk to strangers’ – not that there was ever many of those about, apart from the odd poor old woman of the roads, or beggarman. Anything unusual was looked at sideways in those far days of suspicion – and superstition. And it was less than a hundred years since a local {enough} woman was destroyed for ‘being a witch.’ Which she was eventually proved not to be. A bit late, of course. For her.

Today was a Sunday, so no back-breaking scrubbing and cleaning lurking in wait for Mammy up at ‘The Big House.’ And no school for the children. They were twins, Billy and May, so were in the same class. The day was cold, so first off they all went and collected sticks and kippens in the nearby wood, down beside the Long Road owned by the kindly Dick M***** – who never naysayed them. The Long Road? Any track then without a bend every few yards was so imaginatively named… When they’d brought home their ‘breisnas’ of sticks – as the bundles tied in the middle were so called – the twinnies and Puss and Doggo D scampered out for a little play, never minding the winter chill.

‘Tig’ was the name of their best-loved game, in which the tarrier {never ‘terrier’} also took part. Though, having but a scanty knowledge – or regard – for the rules, he invariably stuffed the game up!. The Puss sat in a sunny spot, looking down her nose – trying to appear wise – as cats do – and snootying a bit at their antics – but would occasionally lose the run of herself, and gallop around after them in a slightly confused way.

They were hardly at the game a few minutes when suddenly Doggo gave a sharp bark……

To be continued….

Ned E


The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of The Kilkenny Observer.


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