Hour two into an eight-hour flight, leg one of a three-leg day. Isn’t flying fun?
Airlines have taught us that if we actually wind up at our final destination, close to being on time and with all our luggage, we should be thankful. Never mind that this travel day, in airports and planes, will take nearly 21 hours (or so I hope). That is my doing, or at least the doing of a generous mother and stepfather who have taken the families of both her children to the place from where some of our ancestors set sail in the 1800s: Ireland.
The land of green pastures, stone fences, roads narrower than a Durango alley after a snow day and castles. With names such as Bunratty, Blarney, Cashel and Adare, it seems as if there are more castles than one can shake a sword at. Just don’t try to visit them Mondays. Apparently, our medieval ancestors felt as if Monday were a day to close up (the gift) shop, or the drawbridge, if you will. I’m sure some of us wish that tradition continued today.
There is something about Ireland, like many other countries around the world, where tradition and history run deeper than the vast majority of us here in America can ever imagine. We witnessed 20-year-olds at the pubs, dressed in their fancy European shoes, stopping their conversations with friends to sing a traditional song and young kids no older than mine (ages 10 and 7) playing instruments such as the accordion and fiddle. Even an elderly man sat down next to me at the park and gave me a not-so-brief history lesson about the feuding families of medieval Ireland. He spoke in Gaelic. I understood about seven words.
But no matter. I don’t think his intention was for me to walk away with an increased knowledge base. It was because he was proud of his country, his people, his way of life. So while I will walk, or fly, away from this country with hundreds of photos, a new appreciation of our wide roads and a really good bottle of Irish whiskey, what I will remember most is that there are qualities – tradition, history, culture – that one can gain from any country, any state, any county or any town.
I will groggily come back to the La Plata County Fair and will find hundreds of our county’s finest kids showing off their 4-H projects – animals, leather crafts, cakes, project displays and much more; I will walk through the Exhibit Hall full of quilts, baked goods, photography, and jams and jellies; and I will waste as much time as possible in the air-conditioned room that holds all the flowers, fruits and vegetables. And I will be part of tradition, of heritage, of culture.
I welcome you all to come down to the fair. Sure, make yourself sick on carnival rides with scary names and stuff yourself on turkey legs and elephant ears. If you’re lucky, you will watch cars demolish each other for hours. But take some time to visit the projects, the animals and the goods. Talk to some 4-H’ers and ask them about what they did or how they raised their animals. Perhaps, they will sit down and talk to you for 20 minutes. I just hope it won’t be in Gaelic.
firstname.lastname@example.org or 382-6464. Darrin Parmenter is director and horticulture agent of the La Plata County Extension Office.