Tuesday, March 29, 2011

For Miss Dot, the Angel of the Pellicers

Just a very quick post, everyone, in brief but heartfelt praise of our friend Miss Dot Pellicer, mom of Miss Judy (Pellicer Bernhard), who is the well-known Boss of Us here at the MadriGalz. When the Madz were trying to figure out how on EARTH to come up with enough capital to record a CD, it was Miss Dot who came to our rescue, as she went often and quietly to many other rescues in our little town. Miss Dot passed from us this week at the age of 89, and while our dear Miss Judy and her family try to figure out how to get along without her, we know she's Up There now, watching out for us all.

The Madz were lucky enough to gather this past Christmas and carol for Miss Dot, but we were poor substitutes for angels. May the angels lead you into paradise, Miss Dot. You will be with us always.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Boys (or, Postcards from Spring, Part II)

My theme of the coming of Spring continues, viewed through the remarkable lens of Gatorbone. There are more tales of boys than I can possibly write, or at least there are more than I can write before I commence my life as a Great Novelist. Yeah, yeah. I know.

Still, there were some great Boy stories. This dreadful photo (I promise there are better ones to come) is our beloved Lis, holding the darling baby of a friend whose weekend trip had been undone by a flu bug of some sort. I think Baby and Dad were the only ones who persevered, and just to be on the safe side, when we served their supper I gave them ginger ale.

And then there was Vergil. As Ms. Moon said (more or less - I am quoting from unreliable memory), It's not fair to tuck yourself in to our hearts like that and then leave. Vergil and Miss Jessie paired their mandolins to give us a delightful song about children learning to spell through the magic of music. They will probably be horrified to hear this, but it reminded me of good old Mister Rogers, who always talked to children like people, and tried to teach children to think of themselves as such. Go to Ms. Moon's: she has a lovely photo of Miss Jessie and Vergil there, and if you see it you may understand why I could not take a photo of them all weekend. They were as beautiful as snowdrops, and as fresh and as welcome. They stunned me with their beauty, their youth, the perfectly tuned instrument of their young love. They made me think of my own faraway boy, and his love and their family. They took my breath away.

It happened that my own old boy called at this moment, and I could put the phone between two great teachers he's learned from, and he could hear them playing together across a thousand miles and more. I whispered into the phone, "Can you hear them?", and he whispered into my ear, "Mom, put the phone back." And here I am again, in the middle of a story with so much more depth and texture than can be captured here, dipping along its still surface with you like a flock of black skimmers at the beach. You must trust me when I tell you that music came to my sons in the cradle, but their welcoming of it as self-determining individuals is a source of great joy to me. Some of the people in this picture stood as musical midwives, if you will, delivering music as a forever part of the lives of my sons. As verbose as I am by nature, I run out of words here. This is where I have no more than sentimental tears to offer; as soon as he called, I began to cry and could barely talk. I handed the phone to another of his mothers, Miss Lorie, whose kind voice welcome as cool water to him. My boys continue to write their stories, tanks be to God (as an Irish priest would say), they have this amazing village to help them along the way.

There was a pinnacle Boy moment, of course. We were diverted and entertained and often made speechless this weekend by our friend Ro, whose precocity is remarkable, yet leavened with a sweetness of spirit to take your breath away. There were long minutes in Lis's garden while we waited for the birds to come, (quiet, QUIET!) while Ro moved bird seed from the feeder to various preferred locations, each certain to make the birds far happier than the status quo placement. I sat at a small round table with my dear old person and Miss Cathy, and we called to Ro as he passed by us on a mission we couldn't quite see. We called to him, and very quickly he turned and blew a kiss in our direction. It was a fine Boy moment, one perfect moment among many on offer at magical Gatorbone Lake this weekend. I am grateful, grateful. Oh, I am.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Dona nobis pacem (or, Postcards from Spring, Part I)

Our circle is wide, deep and diverse, and though it consists of friends rather than colorful lines on paper, it could be quite nicely described by one of those spirograph drawings you did as a kid: some circles perfectly repeated, others endearingly imperfect. The circle exerts its gravitational pull across generations, social connections, religion and history. It's made rich by the sensibilities of us all, some deeply religious, some seriously intellectual, all creative in an astonishing range of ways, and every member with his or her own spiritual awareness. My guess - unsubstantiated, for this is the kind of thing I never ask people - is that we have among us the Buddhist and Christian, pagan and atheist, and deeply ambivalent. We ranged in age this year from newborn to celebration of 70th birthdays and beyond. Some of us hold degrees that might genuinely surprise others among us. Others demonstrate their individual educations in their art forms, whether hand-built instruments, songwriting and performance, garden-grown or lovingly prepared food or art forms like ribbon flowers, rescued from a near-forgotten age. We write. We sing. We play instruments. We raise children, and grandchildren. We love, whether as young lovers who promise us babies and eternity or as dearly bonded, life-bonded couples, perhaps more softly but with no less passion. We fight, we forgive, we re-connect. And on the eve of Spring this year, we gathered to celebrate.

On a long dock stretching to reach the edge of a shallowing lake, our precious circle of friends perched Saturday evening and waited for the rising of the moon. I needn't explain here about the exceptional moonrise. It was a once-in-a-century occasion and you know that already. I stood near my dear old person, sometimes holding a camera, and watched with the others as the golden light of sunset bathed our backs and the deepening evening touched our faces. In the quiet before the moonrise I heard a small song rise, voices of my sisters raised in this sweet round: "Dona nobis pacem". Christian, Catholic, Methodist, Pagan and Buddhist, whatever...what does it matter, really? The song was lovely and the sentiment transcendent.

Dona nobis pacem.
And with that, the round of the moon appeared on the horizon over the lake, the pearl white color deepened to auburn for a moment and lightened as it rose above the trees. Dona nobis pacem. Grant us peace.

Author's note: My unsparing editor tells me, kindly, that much of this is sentimental bilge, though he concedes his definition of "sentimenal bilge" is rather more strict than my own, for which reason he's corrected some typos and given me a pass (dona nobis pacem, anybody?). I promise I'll try to rein in the sentimentality in the rest of the Postcards from Spring series.

Photos(c)Rodney Christensen 2011

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spring, jump-started at Gatorbone

The photos are not all downloaded, the dirty laundry is not all unpacked. But the songs still ring in my ears, the scent of wisteria and bloom of dogwood are still fresh enough to breathe in and the blessed circle of friendship and love and sisters is far too humbling for me not to say a word. I have jumble of thoughts to share in the next few days as I sort over them and store them carefully in memory, and I bet I'm not the only one. I'll taste the last angel biscuit and show you where we've been and later this week we can talk about the magic of the moon, the joy of people and food and music combined on ancient sacred ground, and the almost indescribable benediction of shared memories and affection that have been woven into these past decades. Until then, love and deepest thanks to Lon and Lis and everyone else who made this spring ritual more magical than ever before.