August 09, 2011

Slow Takes

"This is June, the month of grass and leaves....I feel a little fluttered in my thoughts, as if I might be too late. Each season is but an infinitesimal point. It no sooner comes than it is gone. It has no duration. It simply gives a tone and hue to my thought."
- Henry D. Thoreau, Journal
So this is August, and this past weekend the Dublin (OH) Irishfest. It began with a bang: Brigid's Cross, a band I have more and more respect for. They sound really good these days and I'm always impressed by the beatific energy of the husband and wife team. Some great fiddle playing, and the best rendition of the Proclaimers' "500 Miles" I've ever heard.

Ancient Ireland re-enactors at the Irishfest
All too shortly it was on to another band at a small tent near the Celtic canine area. The lead girl singer was pretty good but all-in-all a letdown. Song selection was poor at best. I headed belatedly to the Celtic rock stage to listen to the surprisingly good "Young Dubliners". It was hard tearing myself away but I had to hear a bit of Liz Carrol, since I had her CD and don't remember her being here before.

Then it was onto Mossy Moran, a entertainer who did more with one guitar and voice than the the second band did with four members. Later it was time for the "Elders" at the Celtic rock stage. Somewhat a mixed bag, depending on the song, but I was engaged enough to listen to the end of their concert, which seemed to end prematurely at 9:25.

Sunday at the Irishfest, I head over and arrive around 1:45pm, just in time to catch more of fiddler Liz Carrol. I felt ruffled by want of a funnel cake; they looked decadently delicious but I was put off by the uber large size. Mark and Sandy were having them but they can afford the calories more easily than me. Ich mussen save my calories for beer. Priorities, priorities..

Was sitting at the Celtic rock stage, listening to my favorite (semi-obscure) band, when I was startled by the visage of an old work acquaintance, someone I knew via a former job within the company. There is something odd about how someone you didn't think you had much in common with turns out to share your favorite semi-obscure Irish band. Insert your favorite cliche here: music is the universal language, we're not all that different underneath, etc... She was even grooving to my exact same favorites, so we shared favorites songs from the favorite band.
Seconds after the set ended - or perhaps one song early? - we were told that the festival was being suspended due to "severe weather". And about twenty minutes later a massive rainstorm did ensue. Shockingly, Mark and Sandy said they weren't going to try to wait it out and were heading home. (This has to be their earliest Irishfest exit ever?) I missed the Central Ohio-famous Hooligans, but it's just as well I suppose. It's not the same hearing them without Ham o' Bone.

It's funny how one particular Irishfest song will come back to you a couple days later. In this case it's "What's Going On?" and it was sung by Brigid's Cross. The song isn't my favorite, which is why it's odd that it's the one that comes back to me.

One of the familiar tropes of musicians is that they stay up the whole night before playing the next day. And this was no exception - the lead singer said they were partying all night and that he saw the maid out cleaning the hallway. No early to bed early to rise with rockers. And yet they seemed to sound no worse for the wear, although a 3pm concert does afford some daytime sleep-time. The cliche of rockers as lazy rebels seems false. They seem to be motivated and having a work ethic. Most of them make 99% of their dates and the energy level was high yesterday.

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This morning I said St. Basil's Morning Prayer, which is so positive. (Which reminds me of Fred of "Later Papers" blog, who attempts a deconstruction of why having positive affirmations posted in his workplace don't seem to work; I understood it not, but feel like I should re-read it and try again.)

St. Basil's prayer goes along the lines of "We bless you Father for you are always doing great and inscrutable things with us...We thank you for not holding our sins against us but raising us from despair.." (I butchered that but...) It's a fine prayer and seems much more inspiring than the typical morning offering, in which the emphasis is on what I will do for God, rather than praising Him for what He does for/with us. It's like how prayer in the Baltimore Catechism is defined as lifting our hearts and mind to God, while in the new Catechism St. Therese's definition is quoted, which talks about a surge of the heart - in other words, prayer is not completely our doing but God's.

*

The slow dance of the clouds reveals the gentleness of God.

*

The fairest of apologists are those like St Thomas Aquinas who put the contrary argument in the most persuasive way. That is what is most missing in blog discourse and political discourse, this thought that I ought bend over backward first to portray my adversary's argument in the way they would recognize as generous.

*

Monday afternoon I headed out for the Great Bike Ride to the end of the trail. I tacked on a 15 minute run to sweeten the pot. Altogether a fine hour and a half jag down the lanes of memory. Then home by 3:30, I watched a full episode of Ballykissangel for nostalgia's sake.

As I pedaled on my way I looked over the cornfields and thought of how smitten I was, that first time I experienced the feeling of getting lost in a cornfield. It's a delightfully rare occurrence, to be for all purposes invisible. My pining for a more perfect privacy certainly has a long pedigree; as early as '87 I was, partially for eccentricity's sake, planning on ringing the yard with a large corn crop. There was no figure of wonder greater than the "giant hybrid corn plants" in the Guerney's seed catalog. It felt magical as Jack and the Beanstalk. For the price of a pittance, and the labor of a less than a day, I could be shrouded in the backyard with those stalks made iconic by "Field of Dreams".

I reveled in the trees and the quaint sound of golf balls being hit at a nearby course (causing me to pine for a little golf sometime this summer). I made a note to read more of William Least Heat-Moon's "PrairyErth" as I observed the magnificent untamed prairie full of a grand mix of flowers, weeds, small poplars and maples. It was a smorgasbord brought about mostly by wind and bird, a random wild field left to pot, left to nature's natural artistry. I've long been fascinated by the process by which a grass field, left entirely to itself, will become a towering canopied forest. First the grasses grow tall, waist-high or more, followed by a variety of annual weeds entering the fray. Perennial weeds and flowers will take root, and then bushes and young trees will pop up. The trees will eventually take over, given enough time, they being the giants of the perennial plant kingdom.

*

An interesting tidbit from my reading here's Ma Joad comforting her daughter, Rose of Sharon, on the death of her grandmother and Betty Duffy's commentary after:
"When you're young, Rosa-sharn, ever'thing that happens is a thing all by itself.
It's a lonely thing. I know, I member, Rosasharn."
Her mouth loved the name of her daughter. "You're
gonna have a baby, Rosasharn, and that's somepin to
you lonely and away. That's gonna hurt you, an' the
hurt'll be lonely hurt, an' this here tent is alone in the
worl', Rosasharn."...And Ma went on, "They's a time of change,
an' when that comes, dyin' is a piece of all dyin', and
bearin' is a piece of all bearin', an' bearin' an' dyin' is
two pieces of the same thing. An' then things ain't
lonely any more. An' then a hurt don't hurt so bad,
cause it ain't a lonely hurt no more, Rosasharn. I
wisht I could tell you so you'd know, but I can't." Arid
her voice was so soft, so full of love, that tears
crowded into Rose of Sharon's eyes, and flowed over
her eyes and blinded her.
That line: "her mouth loved the name of her daughter" is one I'll take with me. But my son asked from the loft, where he was supposed to be sleeping, "What do the grapes of wrath taste like?" and I'd say, potatoes, actually, paired with a really good wine. When you get a taste of the wine, you think it's the best potato you've ever had. Put the glass down, and it's just a potato.

4 comments:

Fred said...

Thank you for your patience! :)

TS said...

Thank you for pardoning my obtuseness!

HokiePundit said...

Isn't "500 Miles" by the Proclaimers?

TS said...

Ah yes, Proclaimers indeed. Will correct. Thanks Robert.