Thursday, March 20, 2008

Signs of Spring

Today is the first day of Spring. Warmer weather is on its way.

For most people the first signs of Spring may be sighting that first robin or noticing that the crocuses are up.

For me, I have a different set of signs of Spring.

When I hear the starlings return to their nest in the defunct clothes dryer vent that is above the first floor bathroom, I certainly know that Spring is on its way.

I used to have another sign of Spring years ago. That was when my neighbor across the street would take out his motorcycle for its first spin down the road.

However, as the years progressed, and as our young and carefree days gradually morphed into respectable adulthood, the motorcycle became permanently retired.

At least it retired for my neighbor across the street.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Wearing of the Green

Here, people say that everyone is Irish on St. Patrick's Day.

Unlike in Ireland, where St. Patrick's Day is primarily a religious observance, here it's a day of celebration, indulging in green beer, and dressing in green.

And today is the first day in 38 years that I gave up boycotting the wearing of the green on St. Paddy's Day.

It all started when I was in 8th grade. That was the first time I had attended a public school ~ a school where I didn't have to wear a uniform.

St. Patrick's Day came around, and I was desperately looking for something green to wear to school. With the exception of my old school uniform from St. Patrick School in Providence, I did not have a stitch of green to wear to school.

I enlisted my mother's help. She offered me a sweater that she had knit for herself. And although I wore the sweater, it's olive green color just didn't quite do it for me.

So I desperately searched among my clothes and those of my mother's for something else ~ something more "Irish."

Alas, there was no true jazzy Irish green to be found. So my mother
in all her (unknown to me) naivete, suggested that I wear my orange pants, saying "Orange is also an Irish color."

So off I went to school, in a heavily Irish neighborhood, sporting a drab olive green sweater and screaming bright orange pants. Little did I know that once I crossed the school's threshold, I was going to be subject to numerous death threats on account of my extremely conspicuous orange pants.

There was no way I was going to endure a full day at school getting harassed and possibly even beat up. In fear for my life and safety, I summoned forth a stomach ache before first period so that I could go down to the front office and be dismissed from school.

Early dismissals were handled by the vice principal, who happened to be Irish down to the core.

He said nothing about my traitorous orange pants, but he must have recognized that they were the source of my acute stomach ache. He also noticed my tears of fear.

In order to dismiss me from school, he had to first call my mother for her permission to allow me to leave school and go home.

At first he could not get in touch with my mother because the line was busy. Now mind you, this was during the time when phones had rotary dials and there was no such thing as Call Waiting.

As such, the vice principal had to call the operator and ask her to cut into my mother's line.

A minute later I was liberated from potential bodily harm. I must have run all the way home in order to avoid confrontation and having rocks thrown at me.

I made it home safely ~ body and orange pants intact. And I let my mother know that her suggestion merely got me killed.

So from that day on, I made sure that I was never going to experience that type of trauma again. From that day on I swore to not wear even the slightest shred of green ~ right down to my socks and knickers ~ on St. Patrick's Day.

But today I broke away from my 38 year boycott. Today I planned to wear green.

I did not do it so much for St. Paddy's Day, but for the girls at the residential home where I work.

The girls were looking forward to today. Yesterday morning they went shopping for St. Patrick's Day tee shirts.

When I got to the house at 3:00 PM, the girls were in the process of applying green frosting to the cup cakes they made to bring to Day Hab the next day. As tempting as those cupcakes were, the girls restrained themselves from polishing them off in one day.

So my deliberate wearing of the green was not so much in honor of Ireland's patron saint, but in honor of the girls who looked forward to the fun to be had on this special day.

And this time wearing a drab olive green sweater was fine by me.