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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The March Milestones that make the Road that Rises to Meet You

Lent, the NCAA tournament, St. Patrick's Day, Girl Scout Cookies, with a dash of Fat Tuesday and Easter and baseball and the time change around the edges. I'd say Lent and March comprise some of the most expectant days of the calendar year. There's somehow, in the space far enough away from the holidays and MLK day, and just after Punxsutawney Phil announces six more weeks of winter and Mardi Gras pronounces the end of fun, a glut of time spent in the expectation of big things to come. And good things at that.

More sunlight. Warmer weather. Daffodils that have survived snow and frost. Easter that will release the penitent from their bonds of self-denial and back into the sticky embrace of chocolate or cookies or booze or caffeine or Facebook (though I've noted far fewer people giving up Facebook for Lent this year than last)! And a basketball tournament that will break the monotony of work life and the post-football world and allow for a spiral of excitement and elimination that tornadoes its way to crowning a new champion of college basketball. To my personal sense of the calendar year, St. Patrick's day is a very important respite from the life of un-fun or waiting. It's a little reprieve from our better behaviors and a one-stop shop for fun and excess. An allowance of our more basic instincts - drunkenness and singing, irresponsible weekday behavior, green, green and more green.

I spoke with my brother and sister-in-law by phone this evening after they'd enjoyed the thrills of a bar on the east coast. Somehow my brother and I fell to discussing the general lack of fervent participation - regardless of fashion sensibility - of the majority of people on the streets today in the wearin' of the green. My brother was, to my great joy, outraged and appalled by people's failure to wear green. I explained I wore green on green on green, looking totally even more fashion-inept than I usually do, because that is what one does.
"Oh, I did too!" was his reply.

Yes. Yes. Because that is what one does! It's St. Patrick's Day! When else will you wear all green? Come on! Participate!

It was a moment of shared point of view stemming, no doubt, from our childhood in a home that featured some family fun hoopla for St. Patrick's day - lots of green was worn, parades were attended, songs were sung, cabbage was boiled, beef was corned, green bagels were eaten and the subsequent unexpected side effects of green food coloring were discussed. The shared point of view also came from our childhoods occurring in Pittsburgh, a city that cares about St. Patrick's day a good bit. Sure, some of that is from the many Irish immigrant families in the area, but more so, I'd say it's from the city's need for a break in the long winter's dreariness. A break made of whiskey and soda bread. Lent and winter and cold and March and the bleak black and gray of wardrobes used to being dragged on bedraggled bodies through slush and ice and snow to the safe warmth of office spaces only to be forced out again into the dark cold of night, and back home again to the welcoming glow of Jeopardy! after a dinner that was used as much to warm the bones as to feed them. Winter can take its time, especially in March. But not when everyone is smiling drunk and wearing enough mismatching green to confuse a chameleon.

Sure, it was about 80 degrees here today. Or more. Yes, more. The "bleak winter" is not so much a fact here as it was in Pittsburgh, but the March drag is still a reality. St. Patrick's day injects the newness of youth, even if only in excess, back into the month, with staggering ever, and ever staggering, sweet sweet green.


  1. Amen, Sister. St. Patrick's Day was a much needed break for me.

  2. you would be proud of Denver-ites (though not me) who were out downtown in full force and wearing loads of green!