Green hurricane sweeping over Savannah

March 17, 2011

It's 7 a.m. March 17.  The sidewalks of Savannah, like the fountains in the historic district's many squares, are alive with people of all ages dressed in green.  In the coffee shop a group is discussing its Irish heritage.  The parade starts at 10 a.m. and will continue for four or five hours.  Front row seats along the parade route are already reserved with fold out chairs and young mothers with their little children bundled in blankets.  It's a spring day here but the early morning air is in the 40s.

Down by the river yesterday, big red Budweiser trucks unloaded stately Clydesdales.  Lots of people stood near the horses to have their pictures taken while parade chair people in green Masters-like coats waited for press interviews on St. Patrick's Day eve.

Nellie Lankford is running with the big dogs on the Savannah waterfront. There's a 110-footer from Fort Lauderdale behind us.  Its owner told us last night he's worried because Borders books just closed 275 stores across the nation including prime commercial space he owns in Vegas. The vessel, he says, is for relaxation. Just like Nellie.  In front of us is a 50-foot sportfishermen and beyond him two or three 80-footers.   Beyond, in the river, container vessels form their own parade.  Savannah's port fortunes turned up after Katrina ravaged the New Orleans port facilities. It's unbelievable how many containers they stack on those things.  Between us and the ships Coast Guard vessels with bow-mounted machine guns patrol in the swiftly flowing Savannah River.

It's not unusual for a drunken reveler or two to fall off the walkway along River Street on St. Patrick's Night.  That probably sobers them up quickly.

I'm fascinated by a traveling troupe of young people, dressed in brown Carhartt togs, looking dirty like they sleep in the woods.  A bar owner tells us they're called Train Kids because they hop trains and live kind of a hobo existence.  "I think they're dislocated rich kids," said the man.  "You don't usually see hobos with Blackberries and expensive dogs." Occasionally they gather under a tree and pull out stringed instruments and play music. I'll be keeping my eye out for them today.  They seem to like dirt a good bit.  Today it won't surprise me to see them sprouting green.  They're definitely an earthy lot.  "A subculture," the man at the tobacco store said. "Society's getting so complex.  I can't keep up with it all. Now they're leaving Tokyo enmasse."

It's all happening at the same time.  We saw art works to that effect yesterday in an art museum - part of a psychodelic exhibit.  Kurt Vonnegut, in Slaughterhouse Five, called it the chronosyncrasticinfindibulum.

The din is building.  Horns are blowing.  Yesterday we heard bagpipers practicing down city alleys.

This morning I'm tempted to head for the parade staging area. A police officer said it would be chaos there.  Sounds like my kind of place. The sun's starting to warm the streets now.  Heading toward 8:15.

This may be the dawning of the age of Aquarius.  Today, in Savannah, the age is dawning green. I'm heading out to find the end of the rainbow.