Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Easter (05/30/05)
TITLE: The Hungry Month of March - 1937
By andria donnelly
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“Molly, I swear, that hill is gonna be the death of me,” he huffed, as he opened the kitchen door, kicking off his rubber boots. “What's for supper, my dear?” he asked, as he made his way to the washstand. Molly poured a kettle of warm water into the wash basin and passed him a towel. “Now Sheamus, she playfully scolded, you know well and good what's for supper. What is today?” “Oh, bless us and save us Molly, I must be getting senile. Sure, I could smell fish clear across the harbor. Who's not having fish today?” he chuckled.
Molly poured their tea, sat down, blessed herself and began to eat. “The merchant told Paddy he don't know how long he can leave him have anymore grub without he gets paid. Your poor brother is having a hard winter, Molly.” Sheamus said. “I brought Nellie down a bottle of partridge berry jam and few loaves of home made bread this morning,” Molly interrupted. “We'll do what we can for them, Molly. We'll be back fishing in a few weeks, please God,” Sheamus assured her. “Twas a fine supper, my dear,” Sheamus said gently patting his belly. That's three times this week for fish,” Molly said. “Yes, but eating it in the honor of the Good Lord makes it taste all the better 'tis evening,” her husband comforted her.
Sheamus was snoring loudly, but that's not what bothered Molly. She often thought how she'd rather hear him snore than be in that big old bed, without him. Molly couldn't stop thinking about Paddy, Nellie and the youngsters. She was still praying when she drifted off to sleep.
As Sheamus lit the fire in the cold kitchen, he thought about the next day being Easter. Christ's resurrection is mighty evidence of the power to raise anything and anyone from discouraging depths, he thought. He pulled on his rubber boots. “Even the darkest of days are witness to light,” he whispered to himself, as he quietly latched the storm door.
Sheamus made his way up the wooden ladder to the twine loft. “Sheam, Uncle Jack tells us that Paddy and the Missus been having a rough time of it.” Tom said. “Yes by, I 'spose they are. We've been doing what we can for them,” Sheamus said gently. “Well, I got a few extra potatoes in the cellar,” Tom interrupted. “I got a bit of salt fish they can have Sheam,” Johnny added. “We got plenty of carrots, I'll get Maggie to do some up for 'em,” Francis Hogan called out from behind the pot belly stove. One by one the crowd in the loft found something they could spare for their friend and neighbour. “We'll all be back fishing in a couple of weeks, this should help tie them over until then, won't it Sheam?” Tom questioned. “Yes by, it will. Boys, I don't know how to thank ye all,” Paddy said shaking his head.
Molly was taking clothes off the line when she saw her husband walking up the steep, rocky path. He wasn't grabbing the fence rails like most days. She noticed a spring in his step. Molly walked down to meet her husband. She joined him against the back drop of a calm blue ocean.
The hungry Month of March: People on the Island of Newfoundland, would have bought their winter staples in the fall of the year. By March they'd be running out or “scraping the barrel” as it was often referred to. Cod fishing, their livelihood, was still a few long weeks away.
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