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Crocuses in bloom

"A tiny drop
Went way beneath the ground
To tell a very sleepy flower
The wondrous things he'd found.
There's green embroidery
On the trees.
The cover's off the brook
And tempted thus, a crocus bud
Put up her head to look."
"Curiosity"
by Josephine Wayland

The crocuses outside our home are all in bloom. The beautiful yellow and purple colors brighten up the dreary ground. The tulip leaves are about six inches tall. Two of our rose bushes even have leaves on them. Hubby went to a local nursery and bought some pelletized lime, which he will apply to the grass. While he was at the nursery, he purchased four flats of pansies, all four being different colors. They proudly sit on our front porch.

What a lovely time we had at the home of Tom and Margaret McCauley in South Boston on the day of the South Boston/Evacuation Day Parade, March 16. Tom and Margaret first invited us in March of 1976, when our sons were freshmen at B.C. High. We have gone there every year since then. On parade day, we know that you must get into Southie by 10:30 a.m. to get a place to park. This year, as Hubby and I drove along Day Boulevard, we were amazed at how many "visiting" cars were already parked along the streets. Hubby dropped me off at the McCauleys and started toward the beach and Castle Island. He finally found an open parking space five benches from Castle Island's parking area, the farthest away from the McCauleys' home that he has ever had to park. It took him 20 minutes to walk back and he walks quickly.

When I entered the apartment, Tom was in the living room watching Sen. Jack Hart's St. Patrick's Breakfast on TV. Out in the kitchen there was a flurry of activity. Their daughter Mary had just arrived with a great deal of food. Their daughter-in-law Mary arrived soon after with even more food and paper goods. Hostess Margaret and her niece Donna were already working around the kitchen. A little later, the McCauleys' son Tom and his wife Annie brought in dozens of ready-made sandwiches of chicken salad, tuna, and egg salad. There needed to be lots of food to feed the large crowd that will eventually arrive for the parade. (The crowd now includes their kids and their spouses, their grandkids, some of whom have spouses, and their great grandkids, plus a group of the McCauleys' friends.) Fr. Don MacMillan, from Boston College, came in just before the parade started. We are always happy to see him. I have known him for many years, since he was assigned to B.C. High. We were also happy to see our friends John Wynne and Angela Bonin and our County Mayo Association pals, Mary Donahue and John McGuire.

Hubby and I stayed in the living room with Tom and watched some of the Breakfast on TV. We looked out the windows as the street sweepers cleaned the streets for the marchers. It was a cloudy day; the winds had subsided, thank goodness. About 2 p.m., Hubby and I took ourselves downstairs. Mike McCauley had been downstairs for most of the morning parking the family cars in the indented area in front of their home. This year, I brought a folding chair with me so I could sit during the parade.

Hubby and I both thought that this year's Southie parade was wonderful. We especially cheered and clapped when the groups of service personnel marched by us. The group of Marines who were brought to Boston from Camp LeJeune, thanks to the financial help of the mother of one of their fallen comrades, received the biggest round of applause. We had a chance to greet Boston Police Superintendent Bob Dunford and Area C's Community Service Officer Dennis Rorie, who were walking along the parade route. It is always fun to see Sen. Jack Hart, Rep. Marty Walsh, and City Councilor John Connolly as they parade past us. We love seeing the majestic Clydesdale horses and the Boston and State Police Horse Units. By the time the parade had ended, Hubby's and my fingers and toes were getting numb from the cold.

Once the parade was over, we walked upstairs to the McCauleys' home, which was even busier than it had been before we went outside. Most of the food had already been placed on the dining room table. The hot coffee was made, which was wonderful for those of us who needed to warm up. The food ranged from potato salad to meatballs, to ziti, and meats to a lovely assortment of cut-up fruit. (I tried to stick to the cut-up pineapple.) The desserts were awesome. Margaret had made her famous brownies, wrapping each one individually in waxed paper. There were cakes, cookies, and small pastries. I succumbed to a piece of Irish bread that was positively filled with raisins. I did a little investigating and discovered that Tommy's wife Annie made it. I made sure to compliment her on it.

After dinner was over, Mary, our friend from Cape Cod, and I cleaned up the pots, pans, and serving dishes. There were quite a few helpers in the dining room to pack up all the extra paper goods and also to bring the serving dishes to us. There was very little else from such a big crowd because everyone used paper plates and cups. Hubby left earlier than I did so he could walk down to Castle Island to retrieve our car. I thanked Tom and Margaret for inviting us once again to their St. Patrick's celebration. Just as I got down to the sidewalk, Hubby drove up in our car. One very nice plus about this year: it was still light as we drove home from Southie.

On Mon., St. Patrick's Day, Hubby and I drove to Gerard's Restaurant at noon because radio station WROL was going to do a remote broadcast from the restaurant. Our friend Kevin Doherty, the 12-year-old son of Kevin and Karen, had been asked by Gerard to play his fiddle from 9 to 10 a.m., from noon to 1 p.m., and from 6 to 7 p.m. that day at the restaurant for the enjoyment of the customers. When we arrived at the restaurant, we saw that Daughter Sue and our friend Eileen were already seated. We joined them and were greeted by our friend and waitress Theresa, who took our order. While we were waiting for our food, we listened to Kevin as he went around to each table, serenading the patrons. We kidded proud Mom Karen and proud Grandma Sarah, who were sitting near us. Kevin has improved greatly since last year, and we thought he was wonderful last year. Unfortunately WROL had problems with the remote equipment so the station's listening audience was not able to hear Kevin play. What a wonderful way to spend St. Patrick's Day: lunch at Gerard's. On our way out, we had a chance to chat with our friends Paul White, Dan Hunt, and Jim and Robin Hunt, who were having Gerard's wonderful corned beef dinner in honor of the holiday.

Big get well wishes are sent to Fr. Tom Corcoran from all the parishioners of St. Ann's. Fr. Tom is currently at Marian Manor, receiving therapy after shoulder surgery.

I understand, from my friend Janice, that there was a huge crowd at the organizational meeting for the fundraiser for the children of the late Michael "Popar" Leahy. The fundraiser will be held on Fri., May 23, 7 p.m. to midnight, at Florian Hall. From the amount of energy generated at the organizational meeting, I know that the fundraiser itself will be a big success.

My sympathy is sent to Judy Jones, who works in the Ambulatory Care Center at Carney Hospital, on the death of her brother Charles Minehan on March 13. Although I did not personally know Helen Casey, I have heard how active Helen was at St. Ann's Church. I understand she led the daily Rosary before Mass for years. Helen died the same day as her friend, Irma Sheehan, Mar. 20. My sympathy is sent to Helen's family.

Speaking of my pal Irma, I was so surprised and pleased to be present at her funeral Mass when the Ave Maria was sung in German in honor of her birthplace.

I was also sorry to hear, from friends Ann and Esther at the March Pope's Hill meeting, that our friend Jane Breen, the fourth grade teacher at St. Ann School, lost her father John on March 25. (My kids remember their year with Miss Breen with great fondness.) I am sure that all her former and present students send their sympathy to her and to her brother John on the death of their father.

Here is a wonderful quote from William Ruckelshaus, the first Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Agency: "Nature provides a free lunch, but only if we control our appetites."