Tuesday, March 18, 2008

post St. Pat's post (with pictures)

( all photos can be clicked for a better view)

I had a full day yesterday. My mother picked me up and we went to a special St. Patrick's Day Mass, hosted every year by the local Irish-American club. I haven't been to church in a long time for a number of reasons but sometimes I find myself missing the ritual. Kneeling, reciting the prayers, breathing in the smell of incense; it's very comforting. Mostly, though, I feel like a voyeur, a tourist. Sometimes I envy others' faith - their God is so simple. (come to think of it, God probably is simple. I am the one who is complicated.)

Normally, there would be bagpipes and a fife and drum corps for St. Patrick's Day Mass but since it was Monday of Holy Week, we got guilt instead. The service was solemn and the priest spoke of penance and fasting in the homily. Few know guilt, penance, and fasting better than the Irish. We don't need a lecture.

Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said that to be Irish is to know that in the end, the world will break your heart. He forgot to add that in the end, it's probably all your own fault anyway.

After Mass, we met my brother and my nephew for brunch. I had a cheeseburger with pickles and my nephew had a large glass of chocolate milk, a stack of chocolate chip pancakes and a side of bacon. He gave it his best shot, but the pancakes won. My sister-in-law was already on her way downtown with my 4 year old niece, the star of the parade. (I might be exaggerating, as aunties tend to do.)

(view from the roof)

After we got downtown, we parked on the roof of garage across from the Justice Center. We had to take the stairs to get to the ground level. As we entered the cold, dank stairwell I noticed a familiar sign - no concealed carry allowed. I pointed out the sign to my mother and said, "Isn't this exactly the type of place you might need a gun?" I'm trying to get her used to the idea of me carrying a weapon.

Determined to find a sunny spot, we headed to the parade route. But before we turned the corner onto Superior Avenue, I noticed quite a few police cars - federal police cars. They read "Department of Homeland Security" on the side. Officers in what appeared to be riot gear were patrolling nearby.

(looking up)

"Uh-oh...is something happening?" I wondered. I realized then that we were outside of the U.S. Court House, right next to my first cousin. In a crowd of thousands, I found myself standing next to family. I was the flowergirl at his wedding and now he's as white haired as my father used to be...we laughed, both surprised at seeing the other. We both said "eejit" as we watched a man get ticketed by the Feds for drinking Guinness on the street. Nature or nurture, who can say?

Then the parade started. There were bagpipes.

And marching bands - and fire trucks - and giant Irish wolfhounds - and floats - and Irish dancers. And, most importantly, the best, the cutest, the most talented little pom-pom girl EVER. As you can see, she took her job very seriously.

(Maeve in the middle)

The sun soon disappeared and left us shivering in the cold wind coming off the lake, but we stayed till the end. Home then to corned beef and Guinness of my own. It took two before I was properly warmed up.


BobG said...

Too bad they couldn't find some players of the Uilleann pipes, but I imagine there aren't very many in this country.

Lorimor said...

As I was blasting down the highway today, I was listening to my favorite Irish/Celtic bagpipe powered rock band, OffKilter.

Fun to listen to but their rendition of "Green Fields of France" tears me up. :(

On the other hand, listening to "Misralou" done by these hooligans makes for some toe tapping good times. :)

Jeffrey Quick said...

I didn't make it downtown. I was going to go to a concert at CSU that night, but my wife wanted me home...she's a little twitchy about drunks at night these days.

Re the Irish and liturgical austerity: Thomas Day, in his masterwork _Why Catholics Can't Sing_, blames the Irish domination of American Catholicism for the poor state of church music..."We said Mass in the hedgerows; we don't need no steenkin' fancy Sassenach music!"

phlegmfatale said...

Sounds like a lovely occasion, and any excuse for bagpipers...

Earl said...

Nice pictures and good to be with family for fun. Thanks

Christina LMT said...

Sounds like a wonderful time for all!

Maeve is adorable.

TJH said...

I have to admit that I'm not sure why the DHS would be citing a man with a Guinness. Were there No-Guinness-Carry signs, too? If we were standing on the side of the street, I'd say, "Isn't this exactly the type of place you might need a Guinness?"

Hey, check out that piper's sock knife in the picture. I'm surprised the DHS didn't tackle him and squash his bagpipe mid-note for carrying that.

Xavier said...

Wonderful story Bre. Had to get me erie wifemate ta read it. Who knew the Irish knew which end of the pipes ta blow eh?