“Where did you find the program?” she asks, a bit shyly. “I didn’t see any.”
“From the table right outside the door,” I answer. “Would you like to look at mine?”
“Oh, thank you!” Her eyes light up with her smile. I discover she and her husband, the gentleman next to her, just moved to Ellensburg. “We weren’t sure where this is, and we tried calling, but then we just showed up.”
“That’s Ellensburg,” I say. “We just show up. Where did you come from?”
“Ohio,” she answers, as if she knows any further differentiation or specificity is irrelevant. And she’s right, I’ve never been to Ohio, so it would be.
But the point of this story is not my ignorance about Ohio, nor how easily we can miss programs, even when they are in an obvious place. The point of this story is how this program-less couple from Ohio found the sweetest introduction to the sweetest side of Ellensburg.
We are in the community center attached to the public library. That’s pretty good. We’re there for the free Saint Patrick’s Day celebration full of music. That’s lovely.
And the best: there’s an Irish beauty, about ten or twelve years of age, with strawberry red pigtails, dancing to the Irish music with her handsome, beaming father. The father spins and twirls his daughter until her laughter rings out and her smile lights the room, and her wheelchair just makes the dancing that much faster. Whenever he slows down, she calls out “papa! papa!” until he speeds up again.
Now there is a circle of dancers, children, grown ups, some with disabilities, some without, all beaming joy, and the Irish beauty is in the center, twirling her wheelchair one way while they dance in the opposite direction, and the fiddle, drum, and mandolin players speed the rhythm of the dance as we all clap along, and cheer.
Welcome to the sweetest part of Ellensburg, all of us dancing and clapping and cheering and enjoying Irish beauty.