Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, spring flowers

March 16, 2012 12:59 pm

Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day. If any of us forget it, it is always there on the calendar to remind us.

There is something about being a bit Irish no matter your genealogy that permeates our country. We hear about their coming to New York and surviving hard times, but grateful for even that after the famine in Ireland.

I don’t know the history of my own family’s living and leaving the island, but the name Murphy should be a clue that there is a bit of Irish blood in each of my family left us through the Murphys and the Holland Dutch family Swart.  Then the Adams family from Scotland mixed in within our borders, met a Swart/Murphy and sent it down our family line.

We are seldom ever purely one nationality or another. With all of my Irish, Holland Dutch and Scottish, that I know about, there is this wide swathe of Swiss within myself. Now enters George with some Irish of his own along with English and, maybe, French or German. I don’t know for sure, but whatever it was it made a great guy.

When two of our young sons decided to choose up countries, Terry took Ireland and Randy chose Switzerland.

On Aug. 4 we celebrated Switzerland’s Independence at our hillside home and, on March 17, we gathered the Swart families together to laugh and play together.

Our Aunt Ruth (Swart) Willey and husband Bob usually had us come to their house to eat lots of food, play some games, and think about the people who had made the long long trek from that island in the sea clear to our own shores, then to our west coast with the gold fever unrequited.

From California they came with the telegraph line, stringing it across the Columbia River with a Captain VanPelts in 1888 while working for the Oregon/Washington Railroad and Navigation Co. (O.W.R. & N.), thus beginning the family’s long attachment to the railroad and life in Oregon.

From Umatilla County, the railroad brought them to La Grande which, at the time, was the hub of the railroad with lots of railroad families living here.  The loss of that hub, the round-house, the Union Pacific and Amtrak routed through here ceasing, and the ending of passenger service was a real blow to all of these folks, my own included, as well as residents needing train travel.

Our town still exists and finds other forms of survival just like the pioneers of all ages.

So, if I wear green or orange this month in honor of the first Irish person to set foot on this country, meeting, marrying and producing my ancestry, then let me be with a “Top o’ the Mornin’” and have a “Happy Saint Patrick’s Day.”


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The long table was filled with separate pots of primroses, singing of spring with just their sweet colorful faces.

Jutting upward in each pot was an envelope of seeds and a pink Easter marshmallow candy chick.

We had spotted them in the party room as we had entered the restaurant to eat our lunch, and were cheered by their vision of spring and summer just ahead.

It seemed strange to be cuddled next to the brightly burning fire, having been chilled by the cold rain. 

A young woman from the room of spring came to warm herself by our fire, sharing the word that it was a sunshiny day in North Powder when she had left, only to meet the changing weather as she approached La Grande.

We exchanged pleasantries and found that the room full of primroses was the annual gathering of a group of ladies who sold purses. A little later the lady who had enjoyed our fire returned bringing three pots of flowers.

They had these extra, she said, as she gave them out to the two of us and the next table where an elderly couple had left Meacham in six inches of snow and were now sitting next to the fire.

Now three homes are unexpectedly brightened with the deep pink flowers and the promise of later flowers that the seeds could germinate.

A random touch of kindness from the young to the old brings tears to the eyes.

Not being in the market for a new purse, I failed to find out their name, but may your purses sell well.

From snow to flowers, March marches on.