When something especially shocking or traumatic happens, the brain does something interesting. It squirts out cortisol; bathing the event, so to speak in this cortisol, which in turn ensures we remember the incident in a detailed manner.
I remember with clarity where I was and what I was doing when I found out Elvis died. It was evening and I was coloring by lantern light at a picnic table at a camp in Massachusetts with my cousins when the news came over the transistor radio.
When I found out Lucille Ball died, I was walking into the break room at Ames Dept. Store where I worked and her death was being announced on the black and white TV mounted on the wall.
When the Challenger exploded I was standing in my third floor apartment getting ready to vacuum my cranberry colored carpet when news of the explosion was broadcast over the TV.
On St. Patrick’s Day of 1982, I was 17 years old. There was snow on the ground. I’d let my dog out for a pee and she didn’t return right away as she usually did. I found her collapsed; out by the mailbox barely breathing. I carried her silver-grey poodle body into the kitchen; wrapped her in a pink bath towel and cradled her while talking to the vet on the phone. (It was the type of wall phone with a cord. It was mustard colored. The kitchen was orange and green.) She died in my arms. The memory has lessened and I don’t associate the holiday with that death anymore but I don’t ‘celebrate’ St. Patrick’s Day. But then I don’t celebrate President’s Day or Valentine’s Day either. Did I mention I’m not a fan of corned beef and cabbage?
I suppose I am Irish. I’m adopted and my biological father (now deceased) appears to have had a distinctly Irish name. It’s actually the one place I’d love to visit, moreso than any other place…if I ever had the funds. I love the legends of little people especially…But the holiday? What does it really mean? I have been known to hang up a cardboard shamrock or two; acquired at the Dollar Store, just to say I’ve participated in some way. Wearing green on March 17th is also as far as I usually go toward participating in zst. Patrick’s Day; but I don’t even think I own a green shirt these days.
I know what I was doing on that particular day that my poodle died. I also know what I was doing on the morning of June 16, 2005. I was getting ready to leave for the funeral parlor and make “arrangements” for my deceased spouse—when I felt compelled to spend my newly widowed status crawling around on my hands and knees in the backyard. My mother in law watched from the living room window, mouthing the words to her daughter: What is she doing out there? You see, I was looking for yet more four-leafed clovers…
Let me explain. Four-leafed clovers starting appearing in great quantities during the last month of my husband’s life. Because of this peculiar occurrence, I started mowing the lawn around a certain 3′ by 2′ clover patch because I couldn’t bear to obliterate this odd discovery in the grass… By chance, in May, I noticed these odd mutations growing while fetching an errant empty garbage pail which had blown into the backyard. Always one to seek patterns, I noticed the 4-leafers immediately; much to my awe and delight. From then on, you can see why I couldn’t bear to mow down what was, to me, an odd thing indeed.
Now I’ve heard that five leafed clovers are not uncommon although I don’t think I’ve spotted one since the one I picked in my youth; from the lawn of my Grandma’s property in Vermont. I’m pretty sure that the record mutation of the 3-leafed White Clover plant (Trifolium repens) is 18 leaves! What I had in my backyard was a clover patch with dozens of clovers that were 4-leafers! Imagine finding a half dozen 4-leafers within inches of each other. There were so many in one small area!
Here are a few that I have left, which I saved from my lucky clover patch from that summer of 2005. I laminated them, you see, and I’ve been known over the years to snip off a few clovers from my collection and mail them off to people:
Every year I check the clover patch and it’s not grown 4-leafers since… What is luck? What are talismans? The last time I saw my Aunt alive was back in around 2002, I sat in her living room amongst her things: the sway back mare statue, the bird pictures, the bird book by Audobon. I picked it up and started reading it, very much enjoying the pictures. My aunt’s head rested in my lap. She would pass away within months but that day as I leafed through the bird book, I came across a 4 leaf clover she had pressed between the pages.
Today as I write this, is Friday “the” 13th of March. For some reason I recall that this was the birthday of a neighbor, now deceased.
One of my grandchildren was born two weeks before St. Patrick’s Day and another one was born a week after it. (His favoritest color of all colors is green.) My father’s birthday, my cousin’s birthday, and the birthday of two other people I’m close to, (one of them falling ON St. Patrick’s Day) fall in March. It’s a busy month around here. I tried to explain to my grandson what the holiday ‘meant.’
“I don’t celebrate it,” he said to me. “I think St. Patrick’s Day is just a drinker’s holiday and I’m glad you don’t drink, Grandma!” (He’s eight years old. Almost.)
Truth be told, I’ve never partaken in a green beer and I don’t feel I’m missing a thing. Speaking of color, I was reading an article the other day about the color blue… There has been an upsurge of scientific articles about color as of late, ever since that stupid white and gold dress went viral. Or did you see it as black and blue? Anyway, the article stated that early writers had no distinct word for ‘blue.’ Is it possible we did not evolve the ability to see this color until fairly recently in the evolutionary continuum? It’s a theory seemingly backed up by many facts. Fact is stranger than fiction… and many things are crazier than patches of four leaf clovers growing side by side in colonies. Examples: Shark embryos fight in utero. The survivor gets to be born. A tiger’s roar can be heard 2 miles away. And consider this: what do we really inhale when we breathe on the subway system? In addition to dirt and other organic matter, 15 percent of the material analyzed in the air in a study was human skin cells.
But getting back to my grandson, I was trying to impress upon him what exactly St. Patrick’s Day was about. I brought up the absence of snakes in Ireland and of course we discussed shamrocks (also called trefoils), which are symbols going back to 1675 that were used by St. Patrick himself as the symbol for the holy trinity. Sheep shearing is an Irish thing, I think. It’s an activity I’ve always thought I’d enjoy. It’s true I’ve never partaken in green beer but I have dug potatoes from dirt mounds at midnight under a full moon. The Blarney stone and the book Angela’s Ashes come to mind when I think “Ireland” but the latter is not something my grandson can read until he’s at least 18! It is a great book… Leprechauns? Those come to mind too; both the nasty one from the movies (the first movie being one of my all time favorites but it’s another thing he cannot see just yet)
and of course the cute leprechaun on the Lucky Charms box comes to mind too.
I do like to tell stories about “little people.” Here are two such blogs from my archives:
Peas roll, right?
That’s all for now. Enjoy your green day whatever way you do. And let me know what you think of my little people blogs above!
When Did People Start To SEE The Color Blue? Read more here: http://www.iflscience.com/brain/when-did-humans-start-see-color-blue