When we were small my mother used to tell us stories. I woke this morning with the story of 'The Pound' in my head.
Growing up in a small townland on Ireland's most westerly coast it wasn't unusual for the children of my mother's era to walk to school barefoot. Sunday Mass, however, merited taking out the horse and cart for the two and a half mile trek.
In a small farming/fishing community like theirs the seasons were often marked by the temperature of toes or the fullness of bellies. In those times, my mother would say, "Christmas was really Christmas" all the more so because it was followed by cold wet days, long dark nights and cupboards getting more and more bare. With cows in calf there was no milk to bring to the creamery. The curraghs (small open fishing boats) weren't made for rough seas. January to April were the 'lean months'.
One Sunday morning in February the mood in the cart was as grey as the sky overhead as they made their way home from Mass.
No money for food that morning meant no stopping at the shop for food and more tragically for my grandfather, no customary 'rum and black' with his friends in the back room of Gerald Sayers' pub across from the chapel.
Unsettled by the tension in the air, my eight year old mother, lay on her back looking for faces in the clouds. Something fluttering on a nearby bush drew her attention and she looked twice before grabbing the sopping wet pound note hanging from a thin bare branch just above her head.
No words could ever describe the the strangeness, the joy and the miracle of that moment. Turning back towards the village it was hard not to think of the sugar and tea, candles, paraffin oil, not to mention the 'rum and black' as gifts straight from Heaven.
Pausing at that point of the story to let it sink in, my mother would remind us that miracles happen everyday right under our noses. We only have to open our eyes and keep looking out for them.
As to the origin of the miraculous pound, rumour has it that a local woman lost her purse somewhere on Bothar na Marbh (the road of the dead) on her way home from work that weekend. Maybe no-one will ever know for sure where it came from. For sure it was a gift. It transformed lives and fed a family for a season.
As for the woman who lost her purse, my grandmother made sure that she was never short of eggs, milk, bread, fish, potatoes, onions, carrots or homemade butter. That same pound fed her for the rest of her life.
Self Employment sometimes leaves me worrying about the future. At those times it serves me well to remember the story of the fluttering pound and to trust, against all reason, that MONEY SOMETIMES GROWS ON TREES!!!