The Grinch Who Stole St Patrick’s Day

Isn’t it weird how Covid 19 hit China just before the Lunar New Year, and now it’s managed to cancel St Patrick’s Day in Ireland? Nothing says ‘The End of The World’ louder than the pubs closing in Ireland! As we watch what’s happening in Italy and Spain, it’s hard not to feel fearful.

This sense of impending doom reminds me of a time I took a ride on a rollercoaster in Disney with my 8-year-old Godson. We were going up the first rise, a long drawn out drag that seemed to go up up up forever. I hadn’t been on such a high roller coaster in years (mind you, I suppose it wasn’t that high as it allowed 8-year-old kids.) Still, I knew that when we crested the top and dropped, I’d get that horrible ouf feeling in my stomach that you get in freefall…

…right now, I feel like we are climbing that rise again.

…and I’m dreading the freefall, which I fear is sure to hit.

So what can we do?

Well, let’s focus on the here and now. Think good thoughts, share sweet stories…stop and smell the flowers.

The garden is an excellent source of distraction for me. A few days ago, I planted some seeds. I wanted to start some pea plants indoors. I’ve read that these seedling don’t transplant well. When their roots are disturbed, it damages the root nodules symbiotic relationship with bacteria that helps it fix nitrogen for the air, so I’m experimenting.

“Ah-ha,” I hear you say, “that solves the mystery of the mass toilet roll shortage!”

The idea is that when the seedlings are big enough to transplant outside, I’ll put cardboard and all into the soil so that the roots don’t get disturbed. The cardboard will disintegrate in the dampness, and the wee roots will push out into the soil outside. I’ve planted some pea seeds the ‘normal’ way in small pots and will compare the two – gardening is part scientific experiment, part art! I’ll let you know how it goes.

I also planted some wildflower seeds. We have an area of lawn that I’ve not mown since an unfortunate incident between a frog and a lawnmower. We call the area Frog Meadow to honor those who lost their lives. Anyway, you can’t just throw wildflower seeds on top of long grass – well, you can, but they won’t grow! So I put a layer of soil on some cardboard using the disintegrating cardboard principle and plan to just set it out on top of the grass allowing the flowers to grow in their own space before they need to compete with grass – a kind of social distancing for plants, I guess.

I can’t even explain the ridiculous surge of joy I felt seeing these seeds germinate today. There is something so heartening, so life-affirming about watching a tiny seed burst into life. It is the witnessing of a miracle. Knowing that these miracles occur always and often, lifts my spirits.

And suddenly the drag towards the top of the rollercoaster hill doesn’t feel so bad. I know that this too shall pass, and someday I’ll be enjoying those flowers, and the fear will have been faced down …one way or another.

And then I remembered something about that day on the rollercoaster that I had forgotten. As my Godson and I had traveled up the first gradient, the safety bar digging into my shoulders, the wheels squealing, metal groaning, I said to the 8-year-old beside me, “I’m scared! Are you?”

He nodded but grinned. His eyes were bright with the excitement children get when they’re enjoying their fear, the kind of emotion we were there to enjoy.

He slipped his little hand into mine and held on firmly, his skin soft and silky, fingers tightening the higher we got. It took me back to the last time I’d held my father’s hand. That might seem like a morbid turn of mind, but it wasn’t. It was comforting. I’d held Dad’s hand as he had faced the unknown, telling him I knew he was scared and letting him know I was there. And here in a more dilute form was my Godson doing this for me… and possibly in the far-off distant future (hopefully), he’d do it again. And I knew I was not alone, nor would I be. Being scared was okay. And someone was there to understand.

As the rollercoaster crested the height and plunged us straight down, we yelled with delight, whopping and roaring with the adrenalin rush. It whipped us up and down a few more times till we slowed and stopped at the end of the ride, flush-faced, hoarse, and laughing at each other.

“Can we do that again?” my Godson asked.

“Maybe,” I said. “But let’s see what other rides they have here.”

The next day we screamed our way through a different adventure – and survived – because that’s how life is.

Byddi Lee