Even as a kid, when you had to wear green to school or get pinched,St.Patrick’s Day has been one of those annual times to remember ancient rituals.
I’m not Catholic, nor is my family, but we do have some Irish blood; along with English, Welsh and a smattering of Portuguese, thanks to someone way back in my father’s family.
But on my mother’s side? Pure British Isles. And this includes a great-great-grandmother from Leeds who sailed to the U.S. from Ireland. Why Ireland? No one has ever found the answer, but I’m still looking.
This same great-great-grandmother traveled and on one trip back to Ireland, family lore has it that she kissed the Blarney Stone. So some of our family legend might trace back to that visit.
Whatever the reason, I’ve always celebrated St. Patrick’s Day, usually with corned beef, cabbage and Irish potatoes, occasionally with a tot of Jameson and for several years with a party that included a fair amount of drink and someone singing “Danny Boy”.
One year as the party was in the planning stages, I moved. I moved 900 miles away. It was for a new job that I desperately needed. I ended up on St. Patrick’s Day that year in a new city, a new home and a new job with a group of people I came to count on as true friends.
But on the day, I sat in my new office looking north at the San Bernardino Mountains, palm trees waving in the breeze under a clear blue sky and wondered what the future held.
That year was particularly hard because our St. Patrick’s Day party had a theme. We were going to design and enter a “float” in the Kinetic Sculpture Race, a three-day event from Arcata to Ferndale, across Humboldt Bay mud flats, grazing lands and two-lane roads using only human power to propel the sculptures.
A dream brought on by the Guinness and Jameson? Maybe. This vision and planning had begun several weeks earlier and would consume us right up until race day, always begun on Mother’s Day in May.
Our sculpture would be a cross between a barge and a cart. It would have to ride on over-inflated fat tires, like a dune buggy. It would have to have pontoons laced underneath for the water portions.
We had a name and a design. Since all of us worked for various non-profit agencies, it would be called the “Non-profit Prophet”. It would have a superstructure designed with Moorish columns and turrets. A “prophet”, yet to be chosen, would ride on a throne, dressed like a Turkish sultan.
Since we were all women, the actual work of moving the sculpture was a major discussion. It would have to be propelled by some sort of bicycle arrangement to move across the mudflats and none of us were bicycle enthusiasts, so we started working up a training schedule.
We’d set aside the St. Patrick’s Day party as an appropriate time to work out the superstructure design. What should the turrets be made from? We were leaning toward papier-mâché over chicken wire, both for weight and because a couple of us had been teachers and could churn out papier-mâché by the cart-load.
Plans were coming along until that fateful phone call one Sunday morning, offering me a job I couldn’t refuse.
In the hustle of packing up, moving, finding a place to live, enrolling my daughter in a new school where she’d know no one, the “Non-profit Prophet” slid off the radar. I’d promised myself and my friends that I’d come back for the St. Patrick’s Day party and to help with the final planning for the race, but demands of a new job and new surroundings took over.
So instead of celebrating the day with a group of close friends, laughter and raging silliness, I sat at my new desk and wondered if I’d made the right move.
Over many years, I’ve decided that, yes, it was the right move since it opened up experiences and challenges I’d never have had. I’ve stretched my interests, met many new people, become a writer with six books under my belt and traveled. I’ve even been toIreland.
I didn’t kiss the Blarney Stone, but now St. Patrick’s Day brings back both memories of parties and memories of a green, green land full of history, music and welcoming people.
And a big chunk of zaniness!
Photos are from the Kinetic Sculpture Race website and were shot by Tina Kerrigan.
Michele Drier was born in Santa Cruz and is a fifth generation Californian. She’s lived and worked all over the state, calling both Southern and Northern California home. During her career in journalism — as a reporter and editor at daily newspapers – she won awards for producing investigative series.
Her mystery Edited for Death, called “Riveting and much recommended” by the Midwest Book Review is available at Amazon. She’s working on the second book in the Amy Hobbes Newspaper mysteries, Labeled for Death, out in spring 2013.
Her paranormal romance series, SNAP: The Kandesky Vampire Chronicles, is available in ebook, paperback and audible at ebook retailers. All have received “must read” reviews from the Paranormal Romance Guild. SNAP: The World Unfolds, SNAP: New Talent, Plague: A Love Story and Danube: A Tale of Murder are available singly and in a boxed set at Amazon, B&N and Kobo. The fifth book, SNAP: Love for Blood rated 5 stars, is now out. She’s writing SNAP: Happily Ever After? for release in summer 2013 and a seventh book in late fall 2013.