I apologize for the delay in writing and posting. From July 22-August 6, 2018, I was away in Ireland for a series of workshops for my Master’s in Creative Nonfiction. I was inspired by the people and places I visited and will be posting the articles I have written over the next several weeks.
This post was written about Rosie Flannery, the owner of the Harbour View Bed and Breakfast on Slea Head Road in Dingle, Ireland. I stayed there for nine days. In turn, I wrote a story about her based on our conversations.
“Fancy a potta tea,” Rosie, the owner of the bed and breakfast said to me on my first night in Dingle. It was a statement, not a question. I answered yes. “Go on up and have a look out my picture window. I’ll bring it to ya,” she added.
The rattan loveseat gently comforted my tired frame as I watched the show unfold outside the ceiling-to-nearly-floor windows. All the birds in Dingle flew in synchronized packs of swervy curves before settling into the largest tree I had ever laid eyes on. Branches covered in fir-green leaves, stretched away from the base resembling a bonsai that appeared out of place on an Irish hillside.
Crows cawed while magpies muttered, and tiny birds tweeted. As if indignation at having to fight for sleeping rights, a seagull snapped, “That’s my place.”
“I was here first. Go find your own crooked bend,” another retorted. Before long, the cawing, muttering, and tweeting quieted, just as the tea arrived.
“They make such a racket. I can’t stand it,” Rosie said, a toss of her head towards the window. “Here’s your tea dear. Will there be anything else?” She said with a dramatic sigh and a twinkle in her eye. I thanked her. She turned, slippered feet padding quietly down the carpeted steps towards the kitchen.
Over the next few days, small talk wound itself into chats, which meandered into conversations, and all over pots of tea. I, telling her of my life as a teacher, she, filling me in on the gossip of the town as if I had lived here all my life, and knew everyone and how they were related.
“Such and such person, who Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, should have known better, because they’re my husband’s-brother-in-law’s-best-friend, who bought a boat that was broke because they didn’t turn the key before buyin’ it,” and she was off.
‘Potta tea’ turned into ‘cuppa tea’ and by Tuesday, she said, “Go on then. Have a seat here in the kitchen.” We’d sit, hands wrapped around delicate porcelain mugs, telling yarns, each one weaving into the next until our stories blended as one. The words flowed as easy as the tea with milk was drunk. Sip. Laugh. Sip. Boisterous guffaws. Sip. Tea-up-the-nose. Cough. Sip. Clean up the mess.
Then one night I read Rosie’s cards. We talked about her life, past and present, and beloved family members now gone. After we said our ‘goodnights’, I was sitting in bed, when her brother paid me a visit. He stood quietly in the corner by the door. Curious. No words were spoken. I sat and listened, as he stood and stared, a rueful smile playing at his lips before fading into the shadows of the house. That morning I passed on my vision to Rosie. Rosie, usually jubilant, took my hands and squeezed them.
Later that day, I wandered into a store and after exchanging pleasantries, the woman asked where I was staying. “Rosie Flannery’s,” I said.
“Ah, you’re the American girl who does the readins’. I sure could have used your help this mornin’. When can I meet with you to do mine?”
That night over a ‘cuppa’, I said, “Come in as a guest and leave as a friend.”
Smiling, swirls of happiness and sadness filled the spaces of my heart. Rosie, with her easy laugh and straight wit, welcomed me into her life as part of the family; a long-lost cousin or sister perhaps.
When my bags are packed and my taxi is booked, we’ll say ‘toodles’, as ‘goodbyes’ are forever and ‘see ya laters’ are for ‘soon.’
“I’ll see ya next year,” she said. “Room five.”
“Of course,” I smiled.
Every cup of tea tells a story and ours was told in two porcelain mugs in a kitchen warmed by friendship.
Any grammar and mechanical issues are the responsibility of the author, and even though she’s an English teacher and does proofread, there may be some errors.
If you find yourself in Central Massachusetts, drop by The Shrewsbury Public Library on the third Saturday of the month and join us for a writers’ workshop. You do not have to write anything to attend. https://www.meetup.com/Shrewsbury-Library-Writers-Group/