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Showing posts from November, 2012

Roots and Seeds

If you are a reader, you probably know the feeling.  Having moved from one house or apartment to another, you find yourself wanting to take down a particular book, and you know exactly where it is... in your old home.

That kind of phantom access, to a world that is no longer there, is more and more familiar to me as I age.  So often I will catch myself in a reverie, thinking of a friend or vista from my past... and somehow, the past feels like that misplaced book: I know exactly where it was, and it is a struggle, sometimes, to remember that I will never again walk down the halls of my old high school (they've torn the building down) or jump off the swingset I had as a child, or crawl inside the hollow log that used to lie hidden in a wood that is itself, no longer there.

The past feels present to me, and I reach out my hand for it, only to discover with puzzlement over and over again that it is gone--at least, gone in the shape I knew.

Last spring, we lost a neighbor.  This Samha…

Black Month

The black month November says M de la Villemarque is the month of the dead. On All Saints Eve, (the Scotch Halloween) crowds flock to the grave yards to pray by the family graves, to fill with holy water the little hollows left for this pious purpose in the Breton grave stones, or in some places to offer libations of milk. All night masses for the dead are said and the bells toll; in some places after vespers, the parish priest goes round in procession by torch light to bless the tombs. In every house the cloth and the remains of the supper are left on the table that the souls of the dead may take their seats about the board; the fire too is left burning on the hearth, that the dead may warm their thin hands at the embers as they did in life. When the dead mass has been said, the death bell tolled, the supper eaten, and the household are abed, weird wailings are heard outside the door, blent with the sighing of the wind. They are the songs of the souls, who borrow the voice of the pa…