I started writing this last week, but incredible as it might seem from quarantine, I’ve been crazily busy in my little box!
so here’s what I wrote,
Happy Saint Patrick’s Day, everyone
It’s a strange one. Hopefully just a blip on our normality, one we’ll remember for being the odd one out rather than the first year of a few way of doing things, a new way of life.
It’s a day to think about all the Irish around the world – which in turn makes us think of all the other migrants, emigrants and immigrants of every other country and culture that venture out into new lands and mix and mingle to make a more united world.
Some of those would like to be home now. Because they don’t know if they’ll get home soon, or when, or if ever.
And there might be loved ones they’ll never see again. Some who won’t be there when this is over, and whose last goodbyes we won’t be able to attend, either in the hospital or over a grave.
That’s a hard thing to say, though everyone is thinking of it – and if not, well, they’re really not aware of what we’re facing here.
And that reality of death should drive home to us – and definitely drive us home, where we all need to be right now, staying a good distance from those outside our immediate family/friends circle with home we’re sharing air and surfaces – the important things in life.
These are those same friends and family, both whom we can touch and not right now.
The simple things we never think of, like simply going for a walk.
Fresh air, exercise.
The sight of a tree, of a sparrow, a butterfly.
A smile from a stranger, a neighbour we’ve never talked to, the cashier at the supermarket.
And the unimportant things. Like hedge funds. We need hedgerows, not hedge funds, someone said.
We could simply stop trading for a few weeks, and we’d all be better off.
If they’ve closed the bars, and the shops, why not the stock exchange? How vital is it, really? What’s needed now is work, willingness, good faith and a calm comportment. Not overabundant in Wall Street.
Meanwhile we’re all inside, life is busily going on outside without us, glad for our absence. Songbirds can be heard now the traffic has gone down, the air is cleaner – for those blessed with a dog and an excuse to get out, but also for the rest of us with windows open to the spring – and I can only hope that the park maintenance has been reduced to unnecessary and the personnel redeployed to cleaning tasks (the street cleaning machine still trundles down past our house first thing in the morning though I doubt there’s much rubbish to pick up) so the grass and wildflowers can grow a little more unruly and insects can have a boon from our misfortune.
I only know that the first place my children and I will visit when we’re allowed out of our flat will be the park, to run in the grass and fall down in it and pick daisies and blow dandelion heads.
Till then, we’ll survive on our houseplants and fish tank and the tree outside the window and the birds that visit it.
And the knowledge that every day we stay inside the air quality improves, planes stay on the ground, and people realise they can survive perfectly well without buying plastic trinkets and clothes to fill their closets and that the water in the tap is good enough without having to fight over bottled water.
Stay safe, stay home, stay well.
Happy Saint Patrick’s day…
Most people will probably be looking for something green here.
But I have nothing.
I’m not at home in Ireland today. I’ve celebrating my fourteenth Saint Patrick’s day off the island.
I might have a pint in an Irish pub.
I might not.
It will be a fairly busy day and it won’t bother me either way.
I’ll have a dram of whiskey at home in the evening. I’ve a nice 12 year old Jameson I got for xmas sitting here.
Just like I’m having a dram of Black Bush right now.
Everyone here expects me to do something special, though. I tell them I never did anything special at home, bar go out on a Monday rather than a Saturday. And have to drink on the street because there’s no room in Mulligan’s. And the Gardaí let us drink on the street just this once.
Here I can drink on the street any day of the week. It’s usually sunny, ever bar has a terrace, and you can take your drink up the street and sit down on the pavement in the sun and nobody will say boo.
Every weekend would put our St. Patrick’s tolerance of street revelry at home to shame.
Trying to describe what we do at home is fairly hollow compared to what people have experienced here in the realm of festivals. My forthcoming novella under the name JD Martin’s, One Night in Pamplona will give you a hint of the mayhem…
But then I haven’t been home in a decade for the day.
And certainly won’t be wearing green.
I don’t actually have any green clothes – bar my hiking/hunting gear.
I don’t like soccer, or rugby or GAA, so I have never worn a football shirt in my life. And I don’t intend to start now.
To be honest, I’d feel like a bit of a tool if I put something on just for the day.
I’m not sure why, but I don’t go out of my way to meet up with my fellow ex-pats outside of Ireland. I mix with the locals, and other blow-ins. Hanging out with Paddies just because they’re Paddies was never my bag, baby.
I’d probably have to watch football, then.
This doesn’t mean I’m not attached to my own land. I am. I love the island. I feel more at home with my feet in the soft peat of a heather bog than on the sharp stony soil growing lavender and thyme and a thousand thorny bushes here. And when I’m home, that’s where I take myself. Up the hill, as we say.
But I always remember the words of a character in a New Zealand film called Once Were Warriors.
A pretty impacting flick. I recommend it.
The older brother asks his younger brother if he wants to get the traditional tattoo on his face (ala Mike Tyson) and the kid shakes his head and smiles, says, “I wear my colours on the inside.”
He was no less Maori for not getting painted. He was probably more so than his brother, since he’d learned traditional warrior arts and methods.
That film made me think a lot – I wrote a poem about one aspect back in the day, and have pasted it in below (it’s from my formal rhyming period of poetry writing).
So enjoy the day, as I will: another day in a life of being Irish, of having cups of tea and whiskey and worrying about the immersion (thank goodness we don’t have that here!) and thinking of the next time I’ll be up the hill. And writing.
Which reminds me – I’ll be on http://thecelticroseblog.blogspot.com/ tomorrow evening 6 Irish time/10am Pacific time…. with a little blurb of Five Days on Ballyboy Beach – if you’re looking to transport yourself to the old country for a while…
Once Were What?
The people of a now downtrodden race,
However they live under western ways,
Can remember the glory of past days;
They have their ancestors to give them grace.
But here, our warriors have long since past;
Forgotten graves under tides of good times;
Yet oft’ the bell tolls, when we think it chimes:
Do we realise what we’ve lost at last?
On whose shoulders do I stand upon then?
No others’ colours can I wear inside;
I must paint my own image of those who died,
Must live in me, maybe, they were proud men.