May the road rise to meet you

I'm one of those people who has an aversion to cold weather– if I never see snow again in this lifetime I will be happy and grateful. It's why I didn't grab the opportunity to visit Russia, despite its fascinating history. After seeing the film Doctor Zhivago as a child, I still recall Omar Sharif struggling to retain himself from falling while shaking off his frozen eyelashes. But one place where I haven't been where the cold may not parallel Russia but is just as far north is Ireland, where I sense there is delight infused into the ordinary.

The first time I went to New York it was mid March. Approaching St. Patrick's Cathedral, it was early morning, I looked up, the towering church rawbone Gothic, the leaves blowing on its granite steps, I went inside where a mass was being held while the incense clouded the aisles and pricked my nose. The pew I sat in was next to a stained-glass window of a lamb. The priest, bowed and whirled and occasionally extended his arms in my direction announced the significance of the saints day, locally and back in the motherland. I had stumbled onto something fortuitously. Aye, the luck of the Irish! I heard whispers behind me about the parade, the oldest parade in the nation's history due to start an hour before noon that gave meaning to what may have been a shapeless day.

I love parades– they are celebrations; with all the regalia and costume, marching bands and floats, and beautiful horses. I waited and stood behind the mark, arms crisscrossed to fight off the winter chilly morning, inches away from it all. So close was I, from the sound of the trotting horses and a booming mass of bagpipes. I was told on that day, everyone that partook in the parade, was Irish. This as I understood it, was rare that New Yorkers extend this air of grace, but I inhaled in the gesture.

Every single Irish society group and civic clan attended and there probably wasn't a bigger day for New Yorkers to party like the Irish and display the color green. As I watched the parade that was hours long, I never did become Irish, but I did see some toss their jackets to the wind with their milk-skinned Irish arms, black hair mussed by the wind and faces reddening to the cheers and whose mouths split into smiles that was entertainment in itself.


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