Monday, September 24, 2018

Equinox and Harvest Moon

Maybe it is Mary Shelley or Percy Shelley or Lord Byron, but whomever it is, the words of John Keats just will not leave me alone this week. “Hedge- crickets sing; and now with treble soft, the red-breast whistles from a garden-croft.” When Percy Shelley’s body washed to shore in 1822, his body was only recognizable by the book of poetry by John Keats in his pocket. I wonder, was this poem, “To Autumn” in his pocket?

I have been chatting up this poem all week…to students, to guests, to Jonah (who is staying with me this week) or to anyone else who will listen. And why not? Today is the first day of Autumn. Precisely at 9:54 this evening. I love the Autumn Equinox. Is today my favorite day? Well, until tomorrow, I say.

The summer’s heat is finally behind us, and we welcome this day of extraordinary cool beauty. With dipping temperature’s the frost will soon be on the pumpkin and the leaves will turn the color of the queen’s gems.
Robert Burns once wrote, “The Moorcock springs on whirring wings, among the blooming heather…”

So, what exactly is the equinox? The equinox…both spring and fall…occur when the sun’s direct rays have hit the equator and the hours of daylight and darkness are to be equal, which is 12 hours and 12 hours. This is the day you are to stand an egg up on end and let it balance. (Go ahead and try this out, and let me know if it worked!)

For us in the northern hemisphere, it is the time of harvest and barn dances. Yes, there are still barn dances. I know, as I will be calling an old-fashioned hoe down tonight in an old barn on Lake George! It used to be in the barn dances that the men would shuck the corn and if a red ear turned up, he got to kiss his girl. I doubt there will be much corn shucking tonight, but a good thing to remember!

James Whitcomb Riley once wrote, “The husky, rusty russel of the tossels of the corn..”

I often wonder about ancient times without Google and smart phones. How did they know for sure the sun would come back? Did they occasionally worry that the world would end and go to complete darkness forever? Perhaps that is why festivals were held in ancient times. The Greeks celebrated in Eleusis with names we all remember from mythology classes: Demeter, Hades, and Persephone. The Romans celebrated the festival of the Cerealis. In England, the ritual of Autumn was the Harvest Home. My favorite celebration belongs to the Scots with the harvest maiden taking on the form of the hag or witch depicting the end of summer’s harvest and the beginning of winter.

We celebrate too. Pumpkins adorn our stoops and doorways. Gourds and dried corn stalks flaunt our garden gates. We want fresh cider in our fridge and ripe apples in white bowls on tables. Perhaps we have a bit of ancient celebration in our bones, even if we do not realize it. 

Not only do we celebrate Autumn this week, but also the full moon on Monday night is the Harvest Moon. The Harvest Moon is always the full moon closest to the equinox. There is astronomical significance in this moon as the time between the moon rises shorten after this moon. To be exact, the full moon will occur on Monday at 10:52. Perhaps you would like to go out and dance in your own garden?
With Jonah visiting this week, not only are my pockets full of poetry, but so is my breakfast table. I recite the above poetry to him every morning by candlelight as he sits down to a breakfast of fresh eggs and pumpkin bread. He is patient as he hears me prattle on about words and poems and traditions of life. What will he remember from these mornings when today is a long time ago? I am not sure, nor will I be here to find out, but I can plant the harvest seed for him.

As for you, if you see me out and about this weekend, be sure to ask for a poem, I will carry Keats, Riley, and Burns in my own pocket. You can have your pick of poetry.

Just as the equinox slides into town, I will be calling dances in that old barn. And that, my friends, is a good place to be.

Kumico and me at the hoe down!

Friday, September 14, 2018

The Kayaking Goddesses

My new hobby!

With a flip of the seats in my Jeep, my kayak slides smoothly in with room for the paddle and the life jacket. I weave my way round the empty roads to Fox Lake (1.3 miles) where I meet up with the 101 Lake Goddesses for a kayaking adventure. 

I feel like a pro as I pull the kayak out and place it in the water, but I laugh to myself as this is only my second time to kayak ever. Ever. Okay, one time in Ocracoke I went kayaking, but it was a double kayak and I was not in charge so I do not think that counts!

The other six Goddesses show up one at a time with their kayaks (and one guy, Bill Eyster). Most are dressed in bathing suits or attire for sunshine, but I am covered from head to toe with long sleeves, long pants and a hat. I have made it a point to stay out of the sun thinking, what would Mary Shelley do? I notice right away how colorful we are with the rainbow array of kayaks! I also notice we are all so happy. I mean, who isn’t happy in a kayak? I also notice this group of independent women all have single kayaks!

With life jackets in tow, we push off one at a time. It is delicious to be out on or sitting in the water. Why did I wait so long to buy this kayak? I have been wanting to do this for years, but just hesitated. Is it because my sons kept telling me I would drown? I started looking a couple years ago, but I am often slow in decision-making. It took me three years to find this great old house! One time it took me a year to buy new silverware. However, on the other side, I once bought a Celtic harp during intermission of my storytelling show. “Lou Ann, think about how much fun you would have telling stories with a harp?” My harp is lovely. It sits on top of my piano and holds a 1930’s men’s hat!

I did not really grow up with boats, but we did come up to Lake James to visit friends when I was a teen ager! I learned to ski during those days. We all learned to ski then! My sons all have boats. Abe takes his family out into the bayous of Charleston on a weekly basis. Adam runs a charter boat business out of St. Pete. Aaron is always out on the water with his boat. I now brag to my sons that I also own a boat. They laugh at me, but I do not care. My boat is portable and was very cheap and the best part? No gas!

The six of us goddesses tool around the lake. I keep my distance from June Julien-Loff as she has a reputation as the tipping queen. We find a quiet corner to stop and visit for a while and take photos. I keep one eye out for the three beautiful swans circling around us. Jill Thomas is anchored out on her pontoon with her lovely granddaughters. I introduce everyone and they make new friendships! We decide this will be the new sandbar meet up…Fox Lake. Maybe we can even get Hubie to come out and give us a concert. Okay, stranger things have happened!

We then head out on our own. I look around the lake and see all these colorful kayaks dotting the lake. We are quiet as we glide through the water. All too soon, the afternoon ends and we head back to shore. One at a time we pull out our kayaks, drain out the water and haul them back into our cars. Reluctantly we bid farewell to one another. I drive slowly home with my kayak keeping me company. 
As I drive I think about my small covered wagon…the Jeep. Everything I need fits into the back of this vehicle. My kayak, my ukulele, my tent, and my storytelling props. For that fleeting moment, I think about the gypsy life. Yes, sell the purple house and hit the road. But then I pull into my driveway, and this old house whispers “Welcome home” so I decide to stay, at least for now.

I rest my kayak against the picket fence so I can look at it whenever I want to.
By the way, our club is open to goddesses everywhere!

This article was first published by KPC Publishing Company!

The Kayaking Goddesses!