A Yellow Story, memoir by Ger White at Spillwords.com
Alfred Grupstra

A Yellow Story

A Yellow Story

written by: Ger White


Yellow oilskins swirl by me in the city as I casually sip my coffee. Coffee no longer matters. I am transported to that other time and place and to the magic of the Man – my Uncle Dan.

Of all the sounds… this is the most comforting sound.

1973 in Ireland. Easter weekend. We were working in the bog cutting turf for the Winter Fire. Easter weekend was chosen as this was when the sisters came from the big City for their holiday, and Dad made use of the help.

We worked from early dawn just as the yellow sun stole over the mountain colouring the land various hues of lemon, orange and gold – we were not fooled, we kept on our two layers of coats for it was still only early April.

The sisters had brought the transistor radio to the bog – an alien thing to the regular bog workers! The traditional folk preferred to chat or sing or hum a song. But this morning the radio was keeping us amused and in good humour. There was a competition running in the radio for playing songs with “yellow in the title.” So we had several hearings of “they called her mellow yellow, de dumble de dom”.

There was something missing, however. Here we were my sisters and I and Dad working together along with the help of a neighbour but the team was incomplete.

Uncle Dan was not there. He did not have to be there, he had his own patch of bog to cut.

We would work like this starting in place from 8:30. At about 10:00 stomachs growled for food. At this point we would do a combination of making tea and boiling eggs. A dozen eggs were put into a large kettle, the kettle was boiled, then, eggs were out and loose tea was put in.

We sat cross legged and ate with joy those yellow egg yolks – pouring them over the soda bread which had come from the oven that morning – manna from Heaven indeed.

Then rain fell. Still something missing. As the rain fell heavier we ran for shelter to a temporary hut Dad had made. We huddled inside wondering how long this shower would last. The mood had turned from yellow to dark brown. It was not looking good.

And then I felt a lift in my heart, I looked out the door of the hut but could not see anything different. Then I heard them… yellow oilskins.

My heart leapt for joy. Only one man could swish like that when he walked. And there he was walking up the mountain with a pike in his hand to help.

His yellow oilskins were several sizes too large and along with braces, the waist sat at chest height. But he wore these like the Prince that he was. A prince amongst nature, animals and birds.

Yellow canaries were his favourite house bird, outdoors he loved all birds.

On the day he died many years ago now – those birds sang their hearts out in the trees outside the church. I sat in church reminiscing of him and thinking how to honour him. The yellow oilskins came to mind.

Then my attention was caught by the chiming of the golden bell of the Eucharist. I looked up, as the priest raised the host platen the evening sun rays caught it and beamed a yellow beam from the platen right toward me.

I knew he was smiling at me and to this day and I know forever, I will associate the colour yellow with that noble man, my Uncle Dan.

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