Before sifting through today’s photographs, I put the kettle on to boil and drop a bag of Barry’s Irish Breakfast Tea into a mug. Then I start the music from the Chieftains first album playing on the stereo. Aki follows me around the kitchen after the water boils. Something about the smell of Irish tea raises her expectations for treats.
Most Americans wait until St. Pat’s day in March to connect with their Irish roots. They drink more whiskey or beer then, rather than good cups of the Irish tea. This time of year, they prefer coffee drinks laced with peppermint or eggnog. But the Daughters of Mary and Joseph who ruled my grammar sky in Los Angeles, missed their Irish families most in December. They shared their dreams about the joys of Christmas in Cork. Maybe that is why I asked the little poodle mix to walk with me around the little Sheep Creek delta on this late December day.
Small rafts of Mallard ducks were hammering the shallows when we arrive at the delta. At first I took them for scattered rocks. They must be capturing the baby salmon that try to leave fresh for salt water each fall. Even more birds fish in the creek or along the shallow edge of the beach. They don’t care about Aki or I, just about each other. A few gulls even make low surveillance flights over our heads. Suddenly shafts of strong and clear white fill the sky over Gatineau Channel, looking like bright light escaping the room where a good mother just gave birth to a must-loved Christmas child.