That might have been “wearing of the green” had I not managed to overlook St. Patrick’s Day earlier this week, but what can you do. So many holidays, so little time. I would have been in big trouble in Melrose (and maybe Dougherty, too). Are you listening Rosann Cahalan Boyle?
Anyhow, it occurred to me that it was St. Patrick’s Day when I walked into HyVee and was confronted by a table of green bread --- nasty looking stuff, apparently the HyVee bakery’s standard white bread to which a more than healthy dollop of green food coloring had been added. I can identify with soda bread, corned beef and cabbage, green frosting and even green beer. But green bread? St. Patrick would have been appalled.
There certainly are Irish-Irish in Lucas County, but more of us here are Scots-Irish --- descended from Scots families exported to Ireland by those irritating English in the 17th century in large part to aggravate the Irish-Irish but treated no less badly. Because of that at least in part our Scots-Irish ancestors flocked in great numbers to American during the 18th century, arriving just in time to participate in the American Revolution. At least we got even with the English earlier than the Irish-Irish did.
The bigger Irish-Irish settlements here are concentrated a few miles down the road east in Monroe County, clustered around St. Patrick’s of Melrose and St. Patrick’s of Georgetown, churches with identical names but distinctively independent architecture. But it is a good idea when someone tells you the event is at St. Patrick’s to ask which one --- unless it involves a Curran, and we’ll all know that will be Melrose; or a Judge --- that will be at Georgetown.
So I set off down the Cinder Path wearing brown, but looking for something green. The best I could do was the moss-covered log up top --- kind of pretty I thought and not something that would be noticed had it been surrounded by other green stuff.
The grass is starting to turn green and I expect to have daffodils next week, snow or no snow --- but it’s still mostly brown around here.
I’m going to post a small piece of Russell history here after a bit and the thing that struck me most while reading an account of my hometown (I grew up seven miles south) is how sparsely it was populated in 1869, three years after its founding. That’s due in large part to the fact Russell was built along the brand new Burlington & Missouri River rail line on high prairie that continues for a mile or two farther south before breaking into the Chariton River valley.
If I remember correctly, there were fewer than a dozen houses in Russell in 1869 and only four houses in a four- by six-mile area surrounding it. Farming the prairie hadn’t quite caught on in 1869 and settlers still were heading for the timbered hills instead.
Driving southeast out of Russell this morning on my way to Browns Slough to view birds, it began to seem as if that sparsely populated status is returning.
Within the last few years both the Louise (Homer) McKinley and Bob Kells farmsteads have been bulldozed into oblivion --- once the homes of representatives of the two oldest families in the Russell area. Only the Warren Blue home still stands along that stretch of road and those of us who drive by landmarks now have to concentrate in order to avoid missing the corner south that our vehicles once turned into automatically after spotting first Louise’s house, then the Kells farm.
The draw at Browns Slough was pelicans, which have settled in there for a temporary stay. Unfortunately for me, they had opted for privacy and were spending the morning almost out of sight around a headland that cut off my view of the western part of the big marsh pond.
But that was fine, there were plenty of other birds --- geese, ducks and gulls --- to look at on a morning grayer and colder that we’ve gotten used to this week.
There was a similar assortment yesterday morning down at Pin Oak, but the entertainment was provided by a pair of bald eagles who were using the trees that will be cormorant headquarters in a few weeks as home base for a fishing expedition. If you enlarge the photo below and look carefully, you can see one eagle soaring and the other resting. Sorry, but this is the best my camera could do.