Taking small positive steps

De Facto

De Facto
Liamy MacNally

Small things matter. Add them together and everything becomes more bearable. This lockdown was more difficult. The weather didn’t play along like it did during Lockdown One, when we all discovered so much about our natural world and ourselves.
Back then everything seemed to come a little closer to us, from the birds to the blossoming flora. We acted as midwife to the new life bursting out all over. We were on-the-spot witnesses to the gradual unveilings. Even the wild animals, especially foxes, found a path closer to our hearts, as a deeper sense of tolerance seemed to be an immediate and natural response.
Lockdown Two was more difficult. Thankfully the veil is being lifted, albeit slowly and with the usual Government confusion. Nothing seems to be straightforward anymore. Every Lockdown level has its attendant Government dishevelment. ‘This is allowed’ but ‘that is not’ because ‘it might lead to the other’. It will be a case ‘so much versus so little’ and will lead to ‘so what!’.
Rather we shall enjoy the goodness still bearing fruit all around us. Who could not be impressed with the heart-warming Westport Town Hall display? Elsie Higgins, Rosaleen Heraty, Paul Dunning and crew have done amazing work. It’s a real mood lifter, ensuring the pulse is beating in the heart of the town.
The Positive Vibes project with Westport Lions does the same. Words of comfort decorate the windows of various premises around the town. What a simple but profound idea! We are encouraged to ‘keep the head up’ as we meander our beloved streets and Quay.
For those whose heads are down, brightly coloured stones pave the way. Our spirits are raised by quirky little ‘rock art’ stones left in various places around the town and environs. They rest in corners, gardens and plant boxes, up against walls, on the ground, windowsills and even on graves. All carry positive messages.
We all look forward to the Railway Hotel as it currently prepares its overcoat of wonderland lights. How delightful that Triona O’Malley and Carla Rosenkranz saved Halloween for hundreds of curious little minds with their superb fantasy display. It will make it into the annals of Westport because it is etched upon so many tiny hearts.     
The river bridges continue to delight with their ongoing new lights. Colour is no problem for these providers of blazing hems for their stone-faced mistresses. They will complement the rejuvenated streetlights being upgraded by Westport Chamber and Mayo County Council (Local Authority of the Year 2020, Chambers Ireland Excellence in Local Government Awards – comhghairdeas all).
We know that Westport could become the place to visit at Christmas with a festival of lights. The Christmas attraction of Winter Wonderland at Westport House would provide a suitable backbone.    
While RTÉ reached millions with its toy show, Westport Chamber also played host to its own toy show, reaching way beyond the confines of our town and environs. Locals and Covie diaspora were brought together with a sprinkle of Dermott Langan’s Westport magic.
Lottie Billington also touched hearts with her drawing for the new JK Rowling book and her interview with Ryan Tubridy. She and her sister Rosie are a pure inspiration. Their honouring the memory of their dad, Mal, with mum Sarah, was deeply touching.     
Shops are decorating. McGreevy’s is witnessing the relentless trail to the upstairs toyshop. Santa has confirmed that toys are essential items! Children’s eyes open wide with excitement as parents’ hearts are softened by memories. We all lost our breath when we bathed in the wonder of Santa, Mrs Claus and their elves.   
Across the bigger pond Joe Biden is proud to embrace the green and red as a White House garland. Many emigrants embrace Uncle Sam while at home we long to embrace another Sam – Maguire.
Sam is edging closer. It’s been a strange year. Cavan in Ulster and Tipperary in Munster, who’d have thought! The human spirit will never be beaten. We are imbued with the will, not just to survive, but also to win.
Winning happens when we take small steps, personally, in families, in communities, nationally and as the human race. It could become the new pandemic.