Spring is here. Andie and I are enjoying every moment of it. The flowering of cherries, plums and apricots that border the back garden have passed in the torrent of rains we had recently. After so many long years of bone dry drought our little corner of the world looks fresh , revived and new. Instead of yellow parched hills and struggling rural valleys , it looks like Irie, my ancestral land, which we celebrated on that auspicious St. Pat’s day when that old bugger drove the English snakes off the island.
Well, that was according to my grandmother, who swore the snakes could talk and were filled with heresies and blasphemes of the Protestant sort. We gave Grandma great account because she was a fabulous story teller and after nine children deserved her cups. I inherited her talents as the family shanachie . If it were a hundred or more years ago, Andie and I would be would be wandering hill and dale, following the Shannon, stopping at white washed cottages and earning our keep by telling stories and tales of the wee folk, the murderous English, and the brave lads and beautiful lasses of yore. Sometimes we would play the fiddle and sing. After that and a jar of stout while warming ourselves before the flames of a cozy fire, Andie and I would have gone to the loft and bundled up in a pile of straw for sleep.
Grandma number one was a hearty and beautiful Irish lass with raven dark hair and great spirit but, who died young of exhaustion after producing 11 children, Granddad Pat married the housekeeper, who was an indentured distant cousin, my father’s mother. It was so convenient, and so began the American family and its saga. If it weren’t for the story telling, the latest young’uns would not know they are related to Grace O’Malley, the pirate queen and chieftain of the Ó Máille clan of Mayo.
It might still be a dubious connection. because some of us (discretion here) are of the more rebellious sort and frown on Grace marrying her daughter into English gentry, thus producing the First Viscount Mayo and so soiling the ‘Green’ with English taint. Even that is specious, because we come from invading Normand’s who married native Gaelic souls. In truth, the direct linage is so dilute, these days we share it with at least a million others. I prefer the pirate queen, sea faring and marauding woman, who gave Queen Elisabeth a headache, because it livens the story telling.
So after telling Andie all the stories of Mayo I toasted to all the adventurous ghosts with a beer and made a green salad. Andie wouldn’t eat the carrots in the salad, but did like the little broccoli florets that ‘accidentally’ fell from the kitchen cutting board and landed right in front of her. Imagine that!
I don’t know what Andie’s ancestral linage might be, but from what I gather from her Fairy-dog-mother, it is celebrated and noble, which in Gaelic terms means she a descendant princess from the House of Tara. Andie doesn’t act like a princess though, and certainly not like a spoiled Millennial diva. Andie has captured the heart of the neighborhood and by so doing has improved my hermit’s casual social life immeasurably.
We still go outside in the wee hours of the night, because Andie scratches on the door and shakes her dog tags to wake me. Sometimes the night sky is filled with a heaven’s worth of bright stars and fills me with awe. I then feel once again the wonders of my young awakening and the miracles of life. Last night, the cloudy sky held a great, clear opening for the moon, which was surrounded by two enormous misty rings, one of which was tinted red.
Andie however, does not look up at the sky, unless by accident when my hand moves toward the vicinity of the kibble treat pocket. Rather, she is nose down following the trail of an errant possum, who just happened to cross the driveway and her domain. The hunter-gather part of Andie’s psyche is in full force at the age of two. More about that later. After her business is finished we retreat once again to the new bed and the realms of dreams. Andie likes the new bed so much, she takes afternoon naps quite frequently. So do I. It seems that as I get closer to turning 70, next month, I have entered the realm of naps and so, quite often am found next to Andie in the nocturnal blue of the sheets,
When it’s not raining our days are punctuated with liveliness between naps, walks, nighttime adventures and gardening. Andie loves to be outside and having discovered gophers last Autumn has transferred her diligent ‘hunter’ instincts to furiously digging holes wherever she senses their evil scurrying, plant chewing ways. Unless it’s an important planting she’s digging, I let her go and dig to her heart’s content, because it vexes the rodents and even put that cranky old squirrel on notice. It’s a good thing and besides, because I have such trouble raising myself from the ground these days without a sturdy stick, Andie has already dug spots for annual color. Thus she’s become a dawg, version of Capability Browne.
Hail to Me Great Aunties!