Thursday, December 19, 2013

Blithe Centenarian, Solstice & Christmas Gift

"Do you know Gaelic?" she asked.

"Oh, I wanted to. I begged my Irish, tri-lingual French teacher, to tutor me in Gaelic. She refused; called it a dead language. But I do love the sound of it."

I had just come from doing a radio gig, reading stories aloud, and popped into the big health food store when I saw a little elf. An old lady.

"Don't you look smart!" I said.

Like a bird tilting her head, I realized she hadn't quite heard me. I said it again, leaning down, as a friend working there came up to tell me:

"She just had her hundredth birthday!" I laughed and touched her cheek.

"Bless your soul."

"I'm Irish, you know, from Co. Galway."

"Are you now!"

So I burst into song. Loud enough for the little lady to hear, which meant the store did, too, but most folks just grinned.

Oh Inishfree, my island I'm returning,
From wasted years across the wintry sea...

She recited a poem for me which she had written about the pretty town where she and her daughter live on a sunny slope up near the Colorado border:

...where the winter snows come late...

"I was born in 1913," she said, "in the time of the Troubles, when we were fighting for our rights. Sinn Féin stayed above us and my mother cooked food for them." Her eyes twinkled. "And later came," she grimaced, "the Black & Tans."

I nodded.

"And do you know,  
The Harp that once through Tara's Hall's...?"

"I do!" And sang that, too.

"You know the Irish Blessing?"

"Yes, ma'am." Though not as I was about to hear it. She recited it for me, in Gaelic.

May the road rise to meet you...
And God hold you in the hollow of his hand.

I feel as though I've been given a Christmas and Solstice gift from out of a fairy mound.

A storyteller stocking-stuffer
Call to Adventure

Ireland's Neolithic Newgrange tomb, dawn light streaming inward at the Winter Solstice


At December 20, 2013 at 1:49 PM , Blogger Wayfarer said...

Today I had another errand in store where I met the ancient lady, and this is not an easy holiday season. Going for a jug of fresh apple cider felt like traversing the dismal swamp. Eyes downcast and little interaction. Soon the days will begin lengthening, to what new year?


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