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The pub is not opening for another 3 weeks. The husband and mother-in-law are relieved. Frankly, I would prefer to not open until next year. Americans gallivant across Ireland, refusing to self-isolate as required by the government. On the radio, a Texan tells a reporter, “The coronavirus is a hoax!” Meanwhile, restaurants are refusing to serve Americans if they haven’t self-isolated. American passports are useless except in a smattering of countries, most of them Caribbean islands. Globally, Americans are becoming the unwelcome.

Yesterday I spotted a dead wren, a wee limp thing on the pavement no longer trilling in hedgerows and gardens; "I am King!" no longer. On St. Stephen's Day, the mummers, or strawboys, come out, in their masks and suits of straw, to celebrate the wren, dancing from pub to pub to sing their songs for spare change. In the olden, Celtic days, an actual wren was hunted, a midwinter sacrifice to the gods. According to one folklorist, “the wren ritual may be interpreted as enacting the death of Man killed by Nature, or the sacrifice of Man to, and by, Nature . . . The wren has to die in order to pay the debt of Nature.” The latest manifestation of the tradition is dying; I haven't seen a mummer in years, not since a Samhain parade a few years ago. In modernity, we willfully forget to pay our respects to nature, perhaps to our doom.


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