Happy Saint Pat’s Day

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The landscaper hails from Guatemala. His small family business is composed of himself and his nephew. I feel uncomfortably tall around them but both are strong as mules. They brought a mountain of black mulch and fresh grass cut into neat rectangles like industrial carpet that can be easily replaced when someone spills their coffee in the office. In the spots where they patched the lawn the new turf sparkles like emeralds against a yard, sallow from winter. It is Saint Patrick’s Day and only fitting that the morning be filled with the business of greenery. The landscaper is a tee-teetotaler, though. After a hot day of extracting a stump of a long dead cypress like a stubborn, rotten molar clinging to its dead roots as if it wished to leave behind only a legacy of discomfort and exasperation, I asked him if he would go home and enjoy an ice cold beer. His family life was too demanding to succumb to the comfort of the bottle. At least that is what I gathered from his broken English. Not much of the Irish blood that boils in my veins made it to the jungles of Central America. Plenty flooded into New York, though. Amateur Day is what I called it. An excuse in March to get tanked and make an ass yourself as if anyone needs an excuse to drink and search for a moment of joy during a bleak month in a filthy Northeast metropolis. It is ironic Saint Patrick was credited for expanding literacy when observing throngs of revelers in the street, falling down, fighting, vomiting, getting stuck in a revolving door. It is not ironic that as a boy the would be patron was sold into slavery when one considers how many Irish are chattel to demon rum. A coffle stumbles from bar to bar chanting a phrase that announces to fellow countryman they are from Sligo. I know little of Guatemala or what part the landscaper comes from. I suspect they have their own share of drunken revelers. He and his nephew loaded their tools into the trailer. A silver braid of municipal water from the spigot on the side of my house washed the earth from their sturdy hands. They were still wet when he and I shook to seal the deal the way men do, his grip surprisingly gentle for hands accustomed to hard labor. My grip might be considered substantial for a man who types on a keyboard all day. It is likely attributed to my Irish heritage and years of clinging to the bottle for help in clinging to this life, sometimes just out of spite. As they drive off I think how lucky they are to not need a drink at the end of a grueling day. I should be so lucky, after all, I am of Irish stock. And like any good Irishman, I will toast their health and have a drink for them and anyone else who cannot. 

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