Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Grit’s on a Ship

We've had snow and ice on top of snow and ice with more snow and ice predicted for the weekend. Schools were set to reopen today but were cancelled for today and tomorrow. It reminds me of Texas in the winter when the roads ice and everything shuts down. No one has chains or snow tires or any way to deal with the icing here either. And then there's the trouble with the 'grit'.

Today, the big kids and I decided to tackle the hill into our estate with cardboard sleds. I had them put their helmets, elbow, hand and knee pads on over layers of sweaters, coats and scarves. They were puffy but protected.
We met up with some other estate kids and watched as a taxi tried to make it back up the hill after delivering his passenger. He was in a regular car, small tires, not at all prepared for ice at an angle. As he headed up the hill he swerved and slid backwards. We all stood there watching, me telling the kids to stay clear, move back, get out of the way! Of course the boys didn't listen. Just stood there staring at the car. He managed to maneuver himself over white, crusty sidewalk and onto a grassy knoll. He got some purchase on his right back tire and whirred to clean it off, cutting a deep rut in the icy grass. With gusto, he sped off, bumping off the sidewalk and pushing it hell for leather up the hill. He got just about to the crest and petered out. The car rolled backward again.

I could just imagine what was going through his head in the solitude of that cab. What words he must have been stringing together. Insult added to injury to have a gaggle of kids and now others coming out of their warm houses to stand on stoops and watch the spectacle. He abandoned the taxi halfway up the hill.

To the grit problem. The reason the hill is so bad in an estate right in the middle of the town is because the council here and in every other town on the island ran out of grit. One of the lads standing around watching the taxi struggle told us. He was only about eleven years old but stood there leaning against the stop-signless stop sign post, legs casually crossed at the ankle, arms akimbo. He already had the Irish male shoulders, slightly curved in and he gestured with his chin as he spoke of the disgrace. "They've only enough grit to last through tomorrow. That's why they aren't using any here on this hill." "Oh, really?" say I. "We'll have to wait for it to arrive. It's coming from some other who-knows-where country on a cargo ship to Cork." I had to stifle my grin. This eleven year old kid had totally picked up his father's or uncle's mannerisms and was relaying the message like it was his own. And it was. He owned it with his shrug and his 'who-knows-where' and 'cargo ship to Cork' of all things.

Disgraceful, so it is.

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