Spring Fever

For Joan Donaldson

Today, March 20th, is the first day of Spring.  If you are really in the know, you might call it the Vernal Equinox, and do that little experiment in which you test an egg and see if it shares the equilibrium that is supposed to infuse the day.  This winter was not any colder than usual in Texas, yet I have been longing for everything to warm up, even though I know friends from other parts of the country have had it much rougher.  My friends post messages that lament the snow, even if it does look beautiful.  Rarely have I had to deal with ice on my windshield in Houston, although it was freezing when I visited San Antonio in February. I hadn’t even thought about ice since I lived in North Carolina, but there, I just told everyone I was from Texas and stayed inside until the weather got better.  Trust me: they didn’t want me driving either, and all it took was one spill on some black ice in a parking lot to make me pretty much succumb to complete hibernation during winter storms.

But today, in Texas, is perfect.  It is not humid, it is not too hot, it is not too cold, and when I take my walk I see all the greenery and think it looks like it has been spring for ages.  Nature can fool you that way: it changes costumes, makes you forget the previous scene.  I am supposed to be running, but I have injured my heel, and I am sort of grateful that I am walking so that I can really look around me.  Things are starting to bud, and I can see the holes in the telephone poles from the woodpeckers that I usually hear when I am running.  Usually, they are as loud as jackhammers, relentlessly pounding away at the helpless poles.  Today, I don’t hear them, but I can see the magnificence of their efforts.  Those woodpeckers don’t give up. Continue reading

An “American Rover” in Ireland

For most Americans, St. Patrick’s Day is a day to wear green.  For some, it is a day to enjoy a St. Patrick’s Day parade (Chicago and New York City are the most famous in America).   For others, it may be a day to enjoy traditional Irish food such colcannon, corned beef and cabbage, or soda bread.  On this day I always remember the amazing academic odyssey I had in pursuing my PhD there as an international student at University College Cork-National University of Ireland (UCC).  UCC is believed to have been built upon the remains of St. Finbarr’s 6th century renowned monastic school in the ancient province of Munster.

St. Fin Barre's Cathedral

Why would someone choose to be an international student and travel to a foreign place when they could stay in the comfort of their own home culture?  There are several reasons:  academic excellence and global experience. My choice involved both. Continue reading