Given that it is the week of St. Patrick’s Day, I know many of us will get in touch with our Irish side, whether authentically or simply in the spirit of celebration (I’m Irish, but I’d celebrate Irish Potatoes, Shamrock Shakes and Irish Soda Bread even if I wasn’t – YUM!). I myself like to bake a cast iron skillet Irish Soda Bread every year, using my (very Irish) Grandmother’s recipe. A warm slice of that curranty goodness, slathered in butter is the most divine afternoon snack on a chilly, early spring afternoon.
This year as I baked, I found my thoughts wandering to my grandparents. They’ve both been gone for quite some time, but I remember them with such fondness. My Grandmother was a character. She was feisty, a little inappropriate, goofy and always making us either laugh or roll our eyes. My Grandfather was a kind man. He was a listener and watcher, quiet and observing. But, his eyes were full of so much love for us all and he was always willing to spend quality time with my cousins and I.
Earlier this year, my Aunt came a across a box of letters in my Grandparents’ house. Some of the letters were written by my Grandfather, sent to my Grandmother while he was in the service. Every letter is riveting. There is one, however, that stood out to me about the rest.
The letter was written shortly before they were due to be married, dated August 15, 1949. I suppose my Grandfather was feeling nostalgic and sentimental about their journey thus far, and he took a little trip down memory lane. His letter begins “One year ago, on this day, I was riding on the Boulevard, with nothing to do when all of a sudden I saw something that I wanted, in the way of a blonde haired girl with riding breeches and a cowboy shirt.” He continues on to describe how he stopped to talk to the girl, but her girlfriend did all of the talking and so he carried on his way. An hour later, he passed again, and she was still there “as though fate had kept her there.” His letter describes how they talked, how he invited her out on a date. His words are so filled with love. As the letter concludes, he says “so here a year has passed and now this girl and I are engaged and will be married soon. Strange what a ride on the Boulevard can do.”
That last line is my favorite part of the whole letter. Isn’t it amazing – the connections we make, the opportunities we find and the beauty we happen upon in life, all because of a “ride on the Boulevard?” As I think about my own life and the crazy directions it has taken so far, I certainly have my share of “Boulevard” moments that have led to wonderful people and memories.
I wish you happy reflections on your own “Boulevard” moments this week, and of course, a delicious celebratory treat or two. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Warm (Soda Bread) Regards,