Marching Forth

Singing her way through to St. Paddy’s Day, our columnist looks forward to spring.

Fran LoBiondo
by Fran LoBiondo

Okay, every Irish person in the Vineland area—all two of you—are waiting with bated breath for the worldwide celebration of St. Patrick this month.

And who could celebrate the good saint who drove the snakes out of Ireland without a corned beef and cabbage dinner and some singing and dancing to the traditional songs? “O Danny Boy,” and “Molly Malone?” for instance.

When I was a young and tender lass, our Aunt Catherine gave our family a record player and some recordings of Irish tenors that would melt my heart. I was just at the age that listening to them obsessively, they went right to my heart—including that mournful song about Molly Malone:

“In Dublin’s fair city, where the girls are so pretty …

… She wheeled a wheelbarrow through streets broad and narrow crying, “Cockles and mussels alive, alive -O”

“She died of a faver and nothing could save her and that was the end of Sweet Molly Malone.

(voice low and echoing)

“Now her ghost wheels a barrow through streets broad and narrow, singing Cockles and Mussels alive …

Well you can guess the rest. The point is, it was a dirge that could drown an old woman in tears, and the Irish have many more, should you want to be serenaded.

I know Americans think they can bake, but I collected scone recipes from my mother’s cousin in Armagh, County Mayo who served them for breakfast, and from Bunratty Castle that I ate while crammed in the backseat of our teensy rental car. They were quite tasty.

What a trip!

Now, what else is up for this month?

We have sometimes gone to watch the St. Paddy’s Day parade in Philadelphia.

We almost froze our backsides off a few times, but my brother-in-law always marched with his club, in a kilt, and who can guess when the wind might lift and show what lies beneath?

On another subject, we did not escape a snowstorm in February, but it sure looks like spring outside. Our son, Greg, calls snow “winter flowers,” and he spends the day looking out the windows searching the yard for winter flowers. If he would just wait a little longer, he’d get his wish. Real flowers! Hydrangeas, tulips, daffodils, peonies—anything he wants. Unfortunately, he takes after his mom in the Patience Department

We’ve been isolating at home forever to fight the coronavirus, and having to explain why he can’t go to his school has frayed my last nerve. It’s not his fault, but the constant repetition makes me want to throw something.

I won’t, though.

The kids in summer recreation stopped picking me for their softball team when they saw my nose smashed and dripping blood. It was the first time I played softball, and as it turned out, I was not very good at it. The camp counsellors agreed and put me on the bench for the rest of the season. That was alright with me.

It probably saved me from the torment of others.

Well, it has been weeks since my latest slip and fall incident. Although I survived with flesh wounds only, I wonder if I could buy a racing suit, padded and inflammable just for the times there’s going to be traffic on the roads. It has to happen soon, right?

I can wait. Truthfully those two times I fell I was not far from the house, so maybe I can get by with a racer’s suit. And a breakproof helmet with a clear plastic mask like the astronauts use to avoid getting hit by any space trash or moon rocks that might take aim at me. Not that I have nightmares or PTSD about it or anything.

I’m just preparing for splashdown, you see.

Have a warm and sunny March.

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