Raise a Mug to the Irish!

Is there a drop of Irish blood in my veins? I doubt it. I grew up Mennonite in the Longenecker family in Pennsylvania Dutch country, a hot-bed of Swiss-German ancestry.

Still, the Irish-named Donegal Springs is a mere 3-mile, 5-minute drive from Rheems, Pennsylvania near my birthplace. In the adjoining Dauphin County are Londonderry Township. In Bucks County, a town named Dublin, sister city to the capital of the Republic of Ireland.

Photo courtesy of Artist Cliff Beaman Dublin, GA
Photo courtesy of Artist Cliff Beaman traveling through Dublin, GA

When we visited Ireland, we met a congenial gentleman named Buchanan, who remarked that he has immigrant relatives buried in the Donegal Presbyterian Church cemetery, a place he once visited.

During my last trip to Pennsylvania, I discovered some vintage postcards stamped with penny postage, sent to Miss Fannie Martin, my Grandma Longenecker. Many of her postcards are embossed and saturated with color – no Photoshop filters needed.

In an era long before smartphones and text messages, postcards were valued. Instead of instant messages easily deleted and forgotten, these cards have become artifacts of my family history. The one below over one hundred years old is dated 1910.

StPat1912MUGfront

StPat1912MUGback

I live in a neighborhood where Irish names abound: Blarney Stone Court, Killarney Drive, Leprechaun Court, St. Patrick Lane. Names on residents’ mailboxes have included Dunleavy, O’Neill, and Kelly. We once had to fight a major retailer to retain charming shamrocks and moss-footed oaks in a wooded area adjoining our community. The hanging on our front door reflects the neighborhood and the season.

StPatBearDoor

St. Patrick’s Day this year falls on a Thursday, March 17. Until then, I wish you the luck of the Irish.

May the wind be always at your back and your pathways peaceful. If you are Jewish, Mazel Tov!

To enjoy these Irish limerick lines below add just the right word to complete the rhyme. Keep in mind the missing word must rhyme with the first and second lines. (Answer key in next week’s blog post.)

A bather whose clothing was strewed

By winds that left her quite nude

Saw a man come along

And unless we are wrong

You expected this line to be __________.

~ Anonymous

 

His sister named Lucy O’Finner,

Grew constantly thinner and thinner;

The reason was plain,

She slept in the rain,

And was never allowed any _________.

~ Lewis Carroll

There was an old fellow of Trinity

Who solved the square root of Infinity,

But it gave him such fidgets

To count up the digits,

He chucked Math and took up _________.

~ Anonymous

There was a young farmer of Leeds,

Who swallowed six packets of seeds.

It soon came to pass

He was covered with grass,

And he couldn’t sit down for the_______.

~ Anonymous

 

Edward Lear, Ogden Nash, and Lewis Carroll are among the best versifiers of this humorous form. If you want to cook up your own limerick, here is a link to the recipe with a pattern for the rhyme scheme.

 

Coming next: Wanted, Forty Winks

 

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Kids, Oaks, and Quotes: Purple Passages for August 2015

A Short Story

Once upon a time seven children from three different states came to visit their family in Pennsylvania. Some came from far away in a car, plane or train so they could see each other and get to know their grandparents and great-grandparents, who lived in the lush farmlands and wooded meadows of western Lancaster County.

The joy of reading: Great Grandma Longenecker and Crista, age 3
The joy of reading: Great Grandma Longenecker and Crista, age 3

 

The joy of reading: Great Grandma Longenecker and Crista, age 4
Hearing bird sounds and reading stories: Great Grandma Longenecker with Crista, age 4

They liked too when Great Grandma would bring them warm strawberries from her patch in the spring time, and in the summer some ripe, pink-cheeked Bartlett pears from the tree planted near a gently flowing brook. Grandma loved trees and sometimes sat in the shade of a Japanese cherry tree as she rocked on the porch. She smelled the wisteria that twisted around a trellis close by and enjoyed the morning-glories climbing upon harp-like strings by the kitchen door.

One sad June day in 1980, their great grand-mother died, so all seven young children ages 1 1/2 – 11 gathered near the small village of Rheems to say “goodbye” to their Great Grandmother Fannie Longenecker, who was 89 years old. Some of the children called her Grandmother-of-the-Birds because she loved hearing birds chirp and gave them seeds to eat in the winter-time.

Great Grandma’s daughter, their Great Aunt Ruthie, loved trees too and when her mother died, she decided to plant an oak tree as a remembrance. All the children helped to plant the tree. Even the littlest one put some soil around the tree so the roots would be covered up tightly.

OakTreeGrandchildren

A Tall Tale

The tree grew and grew for thirty-five years. Now it is very, very tall. Cardinals, robins, and nuthatches hop around in its branches at various seasons of the year. In the summer squirrels enjoy the shade it sheds over the lawn.

Thirty-five-year-old oak tree in Grandma Longenecker's back yard 1980 - 2015
Thirty-five-year-old oak tree planted in 1980 in Grandma Longenecker’s back yard   2015 photo

The children visit Great Grandma’s house still, but they don’t often come at the same time now because they have grown up and have families of their own. When they do come, though, they can see how tall the tree has grown and imagine how deep the roots have spread out since they planted that tiny tree so many, many years ago.

Like birds, they have flown away on strong wings . . .

Like trees, they have memories deeply rooted in the Pennsylvania soil

 * * *

Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.     ~  Warren Buffett

A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.      ~  Marcus Garvey

Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.     ~ Martin Luther

Friendship is a sheltering tree.    ~ Samuel Taylor Coleridge

I like trees because they seem more resigned to the way they have to live than other things do.    ~ Willa Cather, 1913

Trees are your best antiques.   ~ Alexander McCall Smith

I think that I shall never see
A billboard lovely as a tree.
Perhaps, unless the billboards fall,
I’ll never see a tree at all.
~ Ogden Nash, “Song of the Open Road,” 1933   (parody of a Joyce Kilmer poem)

* * *

And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

Psalm 1:3  KJV


Is there a tree of significance to your family? Where is it planted? What other images did you recall as you read this post?