March 17, 2015

Tracking Leprechauns

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I have a seven year old piano student—Alex– who is obsessed with leprechauns. This year she is excited by them. Last year, when she was afraid of them, she asked me if I had ever seen a leprechaun.

“Oh yes,” I said. “There was one in the house yesterday morning.”

Her eyes bulged. “What did he look like?”

“Well. . . I didn’t actually see him whole,” I said. “I just saw his foot go around the corner as he slipped out of the room.” (I find this an always useful way of prevaricating about elves, pixies, angels, Santa Claus—everything I believe in as metaphor.)

I was starting to wax eloquent about the little green foot when I realized she was scared. I reassured her there were no leprechauns currently in the house. How did I know? It was March 18. They were gone til next year. What did they do in the house? As far as I could tell they just slipped around corners. They weren’t to be frightened of.

This year, Alex was chattering about leprechauns when she came for her March 10th lesson. Those of you who think in numbers will immediately pick up that her next lesson would fall on St Patrick’s Day. She instructed me to leave a green potato (that didn’t sound good) for them and see if they left a few bits of it.

She also told me that if I had a drop of Irish blood in me, I would be transported to–

“Where do they come from?”


–transported to Ireland at one minute after midnight on St Patrick’s Day, would spend the night there but would wake up in my own bed with green in my hair.

“Maybe I’ll see you there,” I said.

This morning I dutifully—dutifully—soaked a piece of potato in green food coloring and put it in the corner of the room where Alex had told me to put it the week before. (She’s a bossy little girl.) I picked some grass and strew it around the room in corners where a leprechaun might have some interest—inside the door where he might reconnoiter, near the cat food where he might be curious. I left green jelly beans in odd places.

My students began arriving. Alex was the last in the afternoon. I have to admit I was a little excited myself. She presented herself inside the door with her two stuffed animals: Husky and Ribbon. After they had been suitably greeted, she did a quick inspection and found the green potato.

“I noticed it earlier,” I said airily.

“OK, here’s what we’re going to do,” she informed me. “We’ll do this stuff”—she waved at her piano books—“as fast as we can. Then we need to do a thorough inspection of your house, especially the toilet and the sink.”

She focused on the music like she never had before. Her triplets jerked back and forth. I suggested that while she played them she say to herself, “Leprechaun, leprechaun.”

“Shh!” she said. “You’re not supposed to say it outloud.”

On a pretext of checking on the cats, I sprinkled some green sugar in the toilet and in the kitchen sink, which already had some dirt from when I rinsed some oxalis roots earlier in the day. The green and the dirt were quite impressive.

We got through the actual piano portion of her piano lesson. Then we went on the Giant Wee Leprechaun Home Tour.

“Wow,” I said when Alex lifted the lid on the toilet and we stared down at the green water. “That wasn’t here earlier.”

“Look at that!” I said when we got to the kitchen sink. “They tracked in dirt!”

The oxalis was soaking in glass of water. “Yikes!” I said. “That wasn’t here before either.”

“OK, now you’re scaring me,” Alex said. “Let me see your eyes.”

“What do you mean?”

“Take off your glasses.”

She stared into my eyes. “You’ve got leprechaun blood in you,” she announced.

“How can you tell? Is there green in my eyes?”

“No, it’s that green under your eyes.”

That’s being 60 and not having gotten enough sleep last night, but I don’t mind having an imaginative little girl in my life who thinks I’m part leprechaun.

As she was leaving Alex said, “Now if you find any more leprechaun evidence, call me at home. Call me as soon as you find it.”

“Will do.”

Off she ran to her grandmother’s car. I vacuumed up the grass. I’ll leave the green potato crumbs just a bit longer. I really would like to see a little green foot slipping around a corner.

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