Winter is baring its teeth now. I’m sitting in front of my small turf fire, watching the flames in their feeble fight against a furious wind pushing down the chimney, screaming through the thatch, squeezing under the door. Storms in this part of Ireland are not to be trifled with. It is always a surprise and relief when they pass, and my little cottage is still standing. There are few trees to shelter it, or to damage it. Small hills on three sides do their best to guard me, and haven’t failed me yet.
I pull my crocheted shawl tighter, and hope the chickens are safe. They hate the noise of weather. It makes them flap and squawk incessantly, until it dies down. Those hens are my only companions, and have been for a decade or more. They’re better company than most of the humans I have encountered. They don’t point and stare, they don’t run away laughing, they don’t whisper. They won’t walk out and leave me with no explanation.
I never have visitors – if I can help it. Most of the locals fear me, because I don’t share their Protestant faith, and they think I’m odd. At least, that’s what I’m guessing, as none of them have got close enough to tell me. I suppose I am a strange woman: living alone, scavenging for plants on the hillside to make unheard of soups, walking the lane at night, talking to the ghosts in my memory.
I stand up, push open the door against the wind, and cling on to the outside walls to go and check on my fowl friends. I must tell you: I am not unhappy; this little house is my home, and I will live here without regrets until the day I die.