Happy St. Patrick’s Day.
The St. Patrick’s Day I was in kindergarten, I searched for leprechauns in my backyard. I thought I might actually find one on this particular St. Patty’s Day. The air misted and hung gray; any green growing after the winter snow was bright and promising. At school, we ate green Jell-O shamrock cutouts my mother had made, and my teacher told us she had seen a leprechaun during her morning drive. My teacher was a tall, brown-haired woman whose favorite color was purple. Once she yelled at me for speaking too loudly in answer to a question she asked from across the room. She laughed about me “yelling” at her with another teacher later. I overheard them. I resolved never to wear purple to school or smile at her again (yes, we Irish, even at 5-years-old, know how to hold a grudge). When she told us about the leprechaun, though, I wanted to figure out if her story were true. A rainbow had actually appeared that morning because of the fog, and I had desperately sought the end of it from the car window as my mother took me to school. When I got home that afternoon, I put on my raincoat and took my little brother outside to search for leprechauns. We didn’t find any. We did, however, discover signs of one: a patch of moss spreading across a tree stump and some orange mushrooms growing next to it. For the rest of the afternoon, we watched the stump from the kitchen window hoping to see a leprechaun appear.
No leprechauns today so far, but I’ve been thinking about my Irish grandmother. She died only a year after our leprechaun search, and so I didn’t get to know her as well as I wish I had. But one of my favorite pictures of her was taken when she visited County Cork, Ireland, from where her family came. The Blarney Stone is five miles from Cork, in Blarney Castle, and the picture is of her lying upside down to kiss the stone. Kissing it is supposed to gift you great eloquence, a charming power of words. My grandmother loved to read, and even though she never received a college education, she read as much as she could. I’d like to think I inherited her love of books. So I’m wearing green in memory of her.