Where Les Bons Temps Still Rouler

Le Capitaine and his Chicken
In Eunice and Mamou, in Crowley and Church Point, the 2022 Courir de Mardi Gras will be continuing a beloved tradition. I’d hoped to make a run to Louisiana for a taste of this year’s fun, but the stars didn’t align. So, I’ll have some Texas gumbo, enjoy some Cajun music, and share this post once again: for my own pleasure, and I hope for yours.

Some years ago, not long after I’d written a thing or two about chickens, a friend from Louisiana emailed a suggestion: “Cher, you want chickens? Come to Cajun country for Mardi Gras. We dance for chickens here.”

As proof, he sent the trailer for Pat Mire’s documentary, Dance for a Chicken. I watched with a certain degree of astonishment, tucked the link into my bookmarks, and resolved someday to witness the improbable celebrations.

Occasionally I remembered the email, but only after it was too late to make plans. One year, I remembered, and made some inquiries. A few phone calls later, I had the name and address of a Church Point family willing to host a visitor from Texas. I called another Louisiana friend and said, “Pack your bags. The chickens are waiting.”

Traditionally, Courir de Mardi Gras is held on Fat Tuesday, but Church Point holds their celebration on the Sunday before Ash Wednesday. Organized by Elton Richard in 1961, it’s a great example of a traditional, rural Mardi Gras. New Orleans celebrates in her own way, but in Cajun country, things are different.

As my friend and I traveled toward Church Point, the combination of dense fog and deserted roads lent an air of unexpected serenity to the scene. No crowds thronged the route, no music drifted through the air. Only occasional horses and riders, a cluster of horse trailers, or the drooping gold, green, and purple Mardi Gras flags suggested the festivities yet to come.

The View from an Outdoor Kitchen

Still, as we pulled into the drive and greeted our host, it became apparent that people had been up and about for some time. A few had gone into town to complete last-minute errands before road closures, and children were everywhere, amusing themselves with scooters, tricycles and a trampoline.

The fragrance of a good hen and sausage gumbo filled the air, watched over by a man who clearly knew his way around an outdoor kitchen.

In time, neigbors passed by for a visit…

…and a burst of color appeared through the fog as a traditionally-clad Mardi gras reveler headed for the beer fridge.

Mardi Gras costumes fashioned of colorful fabrics and fabric fringe include a tall, conical hat called a capuchon, and a mask. The homemade masks, traditionally constructed of wire screen, often sport beards, eyebrows, and exaggerated features.

Lucius Fontenot, a founder of Valcour Records, says,

The costumes are similar to those of the Mardi Gras in old France. They were a way of making fun of the aristocracy, and the frilly way they dressed at court. Because [the revelers] were peasants, all the costumes were homemade out of scraps.

Larry Miller, a retired accordian maker from Iota, agrees.

It’s the Mardi Gras of peasants, while New Orleans has the Mardi Gras of royalty. The traditions came over at different times, and in different ships.

Unlike costumed Mardi Gras (when plural and pronouned “grahz,” the phrase refers to participants in the Courir), Le Capitaine and his co-Capitaines ride unmasked. According to Fontenot:

The Capitaine typically is a strong figure of the community — a Sheriff or deputy– and his job is to keep everyone in line. When the Mardi Gras approach the house, the Capitaine approaches the home first, and alone. When the neighbor says it’s okay for the group to approach, the Capitaine waves his flag, and the traditional Mardi Gras song is sung.”

La Danse de Mardi Gras ~ Balfa Brothers recording c. 1964
Les Mardi Gras ça vient de tout partout
Tout l’autour au tour du moyeu
Ça passe un fois par ans

Demander la charité
Quand même si c’est une patate
Une patate et des gratins
Les Mardi Gras sont su’ un grand voyage
Tout l’tour autour du moyeu
Ça passe un fois par ans
Demander la charité
Quand même si c’est une poule maigre
Et trois, quatre coton d’maïs
Capitain, capitain voyage ton flag
Allons su’ l’autr’ voisin
Demander la charité
Pour eux autr’ venir nous r’joindre
Eux autr’ venir nous r’joindre
Ouais au bal pour ce soir
The Mardi Gras come from all around,
all around the center of town.

They come by once per year, asking for charity.
Sometimes it’s a sweet potato, a sweet potato or pork rinds.
The Mardi Gras are on a great journey,
all around the center of town.

They come by once per year, asking for charity.
Sometimes it’s a skinny chicken, or three or four corn cobs.
Captain, captain, wave your flag,
let’s go to another neighbor’s.

Asking for charity for everyone who’ll come join us later,
Everyone who’ll come join us later at the gumbo tonight!

The Capitaines not only maintain order and discipline among the Mardi Gras, wielding a mostly-symbolic whip of braided burlap as needed, they also serve as a liason between the Mardi Gras and the public. They’re imposing figures, particularly at first sight.

While a Mardi Gras run may seem chaotic, each Courir has its own code of conduct. Meetings held during the year teach the rituals and songs, but also emphasize the importance of discipline. During the Courir, runners as well as Capitaines monitor one another to ensure safety, if not sobriety. This partial list of rules for the Church Point Courir is instructive (emphases theirs):

Cajun Mardi Gras Tradition requires MEN ONLY on the Mardi Gras Run.
NO GLASS Containers or ice chest allowed. You will be asked to leave if caught with these items.
NO WEAPONS. You will be subject to A Search at any time during the Run.
No Fighting. YOU WILL GO TO JAIL.
You Must Stay on Public Roads Until Permission is Given to Go Onto Private Property.
Disobeying the Captain, Co-Captains and Law Officers will Result in being ejected from the Run.
Anyone under 15 years of Age must be accompanied by a Responsible Adult.
Everyone is Required to be Fully Masked [or painted face] and in Costume.
Anyone URINATING in Public will be subject to Arrest.
No PROFANITY or Indecent Exposure will be Tolerated. YOU WILL GO TO JAIL IF CAUGHT.
Anyone Seeming to be Out of Control or TOO Intoxicated will be removed from the Run and Contained.
Yes, Sir

The Capitaines also help with chicken control. As the runners collect one of the prime ingredients for their gumbo, the chickens are added to a traveling pen, recorded, and well guarded. Thievery seems unlikely, but on a day devoted to pranks, anything is possible.

Once the costumes, chickens, Capitaines, and the rest of the crew are gathered into one place, tradition takes over. Wilson Savoy, a member of the Pine Leaf Boys, describes it this way:

The runners go from house to house and ask permission to enter the yard of the home owner. They dance and entertain the owners and in exchange they ask for anything to contribute to the run, usually ingredients to make a gumbo at the end of the day: rice, chickens, sausage, flour.

If a homeowner donates a chicken, tradition dictates that the chicken be alive. That’s where the fun begins. Before the chicken can become a part of the community’s gros gumbo, it has to be caught. Words can’t properly describe what happens next, so I found a little something to help.

After the chickens have been caught and the Courir moves on to the next home, the fun isn’t over. Following behind are the Krewes with their music, art, beer, bead-tossing, and invitations to dance (did I mention beer?). The version of “La Danse de Mardi Gras” popularized by Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys is as danceable on a dirt road as at a dancehall or festival.

Allons Danser!
No need to put down a drink…
Wouldn’t you grin if the fellow on the right draped some beads around your neck?

For those needing a rest from their dancing or bead-collecting, artwork on the passing parade of buses and wagons offered some delightful interpretations of the day’s primary actors.

Performance art wasn’t neglected. This live chicken (whose black friend seems to have escaped for the moment) rode quite happily atop the LSU bus. Snapping its tether at one point, it was coaxed back and re-attached, apparently unruffled.

In time, riders and wagons supplanted masked and costumed revelers. The slower pace allowed increasing interaction between spectators and participants, as well as time to appreciate the passing horses, donkeys, and the singular-in-every-sense zeedonk.

Occasional pauses in the parade’s forward progress also allowed time for kid-and-horse conversation. Only moments after taking this photo, I watched the little blond girl move over to offer the white horse the attention he clearly craved.

Even the smallest — and most ambivalent — got to experience the excitement of the ride.

As the last group of horses passed by, children began clearing the ditches of unclaimed beads and we settled in with our gumbo. Remarkably, there was no sense of disappointment at the parade’s end: no let-down, no sense that something had been lost.

That lack of disappointment surely witnesses to the power of the Courir as living tradition. Neither spectacle nor ritual re-enactment, neither a Cajun version of New Orleans celebrations nor a poor, rural imitation of city ways, the Courir embodies customs cherished by Acadian settlers and their descendents for centuries.

While its value as sheer entertainment can’t be denied, its greater importance lies in the opportunity it offers for affirming enduring ties of family and tradition. Parades may end, but heritage is forever.

Soon, this year’s masked and costumed riders will be gone. The beads will have been cleared from the roads, and chickens will forage in peace. Music always will echo through Acadiana while gumbo pots boil, but the extravagance and excess of Mardi Gras slowly will give way to other necessities of life.

Still, once the parties and parades of the season have gone, the beauty of the Courir will remain: a flag of tradition, civility, and commitment to community that waves for us all.

Comments always are welcome.

The Poets’ Birds ~ Chaucer Imagines a Parliament

The Parliment of Birds ~ Carl Wilhelm de Hamilton (1668-1754)

Valentine’s Day as a romantic holiday has somewhat less to do with the Christian saint named Valentine than with Geoffrey Chaucer, whose Parliament of Fowls (or Parliament of Birds), a poem written in the late 14th century, is a humorous and at times philosophical exploration of the nature of love.

Composed as a Dream Vision, a common medieval literary device, the poem describes the birds of the world gathering in a ‘parliament’ convened by Nature. The purpose of the early spring gathering, which took place on ‘seynt valentynes day,’ was for each of the birds to choose a mate.

Three male eagles make their case for the hand of a female eagle, but their squabbling evokes protest and comic debate among the other birds; Nature herself finally ends the conflict by allowing the female to put off her decision until the next year. With the decision deferred and the rest of the birds unable to choose a mate, they end their parliament with a cheerful song.

Chaucer’s tale seems to have contributed to the rise of the Valentine Day tradition, for in February 1477, Margery Brews, a Norfolk woman, wrote a letter to her fiancé John Paston, calling him ‘my right well beloved Valentine’. The earliest known letter of its kind, the original text can be seen online in the British Library’s Medieval Collection with this added note:

Describing John as her ‘right well-beloved valentine’, she tells him she is ‘not in good health of body nor of heart, nor shall I be till I hear from you.’ She explains that her mother had tried to persuade her father to increase her dowry – so far unsuccessfully. However, she says, if John loves her he will marry her anyway: ‘But if you love me, as I trust verily that you do, you will not leave me therefore.’ There was a happy ending to the story, as the couple would eventually marry.

Chaucer being Chaucer, the poem in its entirety, or even a selection in Middle English, would be a bit much to share. But this section that mentions Valentine’s Day, made more accessible by A.S. Kline, is enjoyable:

When I had come again unto the place
Of which I spoke, that was so sweet and green,
Forth I walked to bring myself solace.
Then was I aware, there sat a queen:
As in brightness the summer sun’s sheen
Outshines the star, right so beyond measure
Was she fairer too than any creature.
And in a clearing on a hill of flowers
Was set this noble goddess, Nature;
Of branches were her halls and her bowers
Wrought according to her art and measure;
Nor was there any fowl she does engender
That was not seen there in her presence,
To hear her judgement, and give audience.
For this was on Saint Valentine’s day,
When every fowl comes there his mate to take,
Of every species that men know, I say,
And then so huge a crowd did they make,
That earth and sea, and tree, and every lake
Was so full, that there was scarcely space
For me to stand, so full was all the place.
And as Alain, in his Complaint of Nature,
Describes her array and paints her face,
In such array might men there find her.
So this noble Empress, full of grace,
Bade every fowl to take its proper place
As they were wont to do from year to year,
On Saint Valentine’s day, standing there.

If you’d like to give the original a try, you can find it here, complete with a Middle English glossary to help identify the various birds. Chaucer (and your high school English teacher) would be pleased.

 

Comments always are welcome.

Celebrating Winter

Amethyst Brook Falls, Massachusetts ~ Stephen Gingold

It’s Wednesday night, and a lovely sixty-four degrees in my neighborhood. Two hundred miles to the northwest, in Austin, it’s dropped to thirty-nine, and when an even farther-west friend in Kerrville went out to collect wood for her stove, it had dropped below freezing. Up on the Caprock it’s eighteen; in assorted Panhandle towns it’s only ten, and creeping toward zero. Winter — real winter — is on its way again.

Everyone in Texas remembers last February’s snow and ice extravaganza, with its statewide loss of power and loss of life. Still, as one of my favorite meteorologists put it on this Groundhog Day, Pennsylvania may have Punxsutawney Phil, but Texas has ERCOT Earl. He saw his shadow today, so we should get six more weeks of power. As  freezing rain begins across the state, we certainly hope so.

I’m not particularly fond of ice, but I have wonderful memories of snow, and wouldn’t mind seeing it again. Since that’s not likely here on the coast despite the coming cold, I thought I’d relive the experience through one of my favorite poems: written and revised over the years. If you’ve had snow, have snow, or are hoping for snow, perhaps you’ll enjoy it; if the cold lingers for a while, perhaps you’ll find a way to enjoy that, too.

 

The Grammarian In Winter

Winter speaks in passive voice,
conjugates brief slants of light,
parses out cold stars along a tracery of oak.
Beneath the rising moon, fine participles gleam.
D
angling remnant leaves pull free
to tumble down the winds,
evocative declensions of a season now unbound.
Split by ice, the pond breathes smoke.
Split by cold, the blackened ferns release their shattered fronds.
Split by hoarfrost, fences bend and crack across the cold-boned land.
Infinitives abound.
Silent, shrouded by the pond’s slight breath,
clear-eyed herons sweep the snow
as if to scry its source;
their spellbound cries declaim the day,
then punctuate the dim and drifting hills.
Linda Leinen

 

Comments always are welcome.
For more of Steve Gingold’s marvelous winter photos, Click Here.

Recalling Those Dandelion Days

Texas dandelion (Pyrrhopappus pauciflorus)

No matter which dandelion species comes to live in the neighborhood, everyone has an opinion.

Some consider them weeds, taking the emergence of even one flower as a personal affront. For them, the wildflower demands corn gluten, digging tools, or half-used bags of Weed-B-Gon® left from previous battles. Known to curse at the sight of dandelion fluff floating through the air, they need occasional reminders to stop yelling at the children who set the seeds a-flying.

Others consider dandelions wildflowers: sturdy little delights meant for the season’s first bouquets. Some call them dinner: happily boiling the young, tender greens and serving them up alongside ham and cornbread. Old-timers still bottle a sweet, light wine from the flowers, and lucky children still learn how to weave the flowers into garlands for their hair.

I’ll confess to loving the dandelions, and consider them more wildflower than weed. But above all else, those plump, yellow flowers bring to mind one very special experience: the year the squirrel went crazy.

Anyone who’s rescued and raised a squirrel as a pet has tales to tell – especially when the relationship lasts over a span of years. Inevitably, a squirrel in the house means pecans buried in the bedsheets, gnawed furniture, scratched limbs, and a full complement of creative mischief.

It also means providing a nice, balanced diet to maintain those bright eyes and that fluffy tail: a freezer full of acorns, fresh fungi in season, a full complement of assorted greens, and an occasional orange popsicle before bed. As everyone who’s lived with a squirrel knows, if the squirrel’s not happy, nobody’s happy, and popsicles made my squirrel happy.

 

One year, about mid-January, it became obvious that my squirrel wasn’t happy. He seemed bored and lethargic; none of his usual diversions gave him pleasure. He stopped lying atop the front door, scanning the traffic in the streets. He stopped dragging around his tennis-ball-in-a-sock, or demanding ear scratches. He even stopped watching Letterman, or begging for popsicles.

At first, I assumed creeping age was slowing him down, causing him to become crotchety. Then, he became a lot crotchety. The same critter who’d loved draping himself across my shoulder and nuzzling my ear suddenly took to flying off the refrigerator, grabbing hold of the nearest passer-by and biting their ear. He scolded everything that moved, and started chasing the bird. His silent, malevolent glare took on a certain intensity. Anyone who experienced it could be forgiven a shiver of fear, or an irrational belief that a two-pound squirrel intended to take over the house by force.

Eventually, after a fit of particularly bad temper, I snapped back. Surprised by my response, he ran to the back of the house and scooted straight into a closet, burrowing down among the hiking boots and coolers. That’s where I found him, digging into a plastic bag as though his life depended on it.

A strange but pleasant odor permeated the closet; it reminded me of a brewery. Puzzled, I pulled open the bag, and found mesquite beans that I’d collected, carried home as a souvenir, and promptly forgot. Thanks to their high sugar content and perfect closet conditions, the beans had fermented. My furry little darling was flying high on a South Texas version of home-brew, sometimes called atole by those who produce it for human consumption.

Even unfermented mesquite beans appeal to cattle, horses and goats, as well as to an assortment of wild creatures. When the beans ferment in the wild, cattle who’ve sampled them will do their best to keep bellying up to the bar.

In the case of my no-longer-free-range squirrel, closing the bar was easy. Getting him clean and sober required a little more effort. It took over a week for the effects of the beans to wear off, and during detox he was belligerent, contemptuous, and confrontational.

Unpredictably aggressive, he engaged in fits of foot-stomping rage. He became particularly fond of jumping up onto a bar near the kitchen, taking the phone cord in his teeth and daring someone to do something about it. Told, “No!” by one of his humans, the previously sweet little woodland creature would curl his forepaws into fists, stomp his little feet on the bar, and chatter away in perfect imitation of a two-year old throwing a tantrum.

Eventually, the aggressiveness ended. Still, he seemed lethargic; uninterested in life. Tempted with his favorite foods, he turned away. He slept a good bit, still refused ear rubs, and generally moped around in his log house. Despite everyone’s concern, the squirrel gurus counseled patience: and so, through the rest of January and all of February, we waited.

Finally, in March, as the sun rose higher in the sky and the grass began to green, the first dandelion appeared in the yard.

On impulse, I plucked and washed it, then carried it to the large aviary which served as the squirrel’s home. Whether sleeping or brooding, he was in his log, so I opened the door and rapped on his house. When I heard a rustle, I rapped again, and a tiny face appeared.

When I showed him the dandelion, he hopped out and sat on his feeding log, waiting for his treat. Once he had it in his paws, he sampled a petal or two, nibbled on a leaf, and then, as neatly as you please, bit off the end of the stem. As the milky sap began to collect at the bottom, he lapped up the drops with his tiny tongue, for all the world like an oenophile sampling a particularly fine wine.

I kept the dandelions coming, and within days he was back to his usual self, hanging out on top of the door and hiding pecans in my shoes. Was it the dandelion that made him happy? The coming of spring? The simple passage of time? There’s no way to know. Perhaps in the end it was a combination of all three, but it hardly mattered. The dandelion gods were back in their heaven, and all was right with the world: at least, all was right in the world of one previously miserable squirrel.

Today, looking around this soft, early spring, enjoying the already-blooming dandelions, waiting for the leafing of the mesquite, I take enormous pleasure in remembering my sweet, funny squirrel. I remember my belligerent, mesquite-bean-crazed squirrel somewhat less fondly, but the experience we shared leads me to wonder about people I see around me now: people who are behaving precisely like my poor, inebriated squirrel.

What have they gotten into? I wonder. What’s left them so belligerent, contemptuous, and confrontational? What could have warped their world view so badly that their life has been reduced to a clenched-jaw, foot-stomping rage?”

In truth, I don’t know. What I do know is that spring is coming, and the dandelions will bloom. The mesquite will blossom again, and the cycle will continue. Someone in West Texas will give atole a try, and vinters around the state will bottle dewberry, agarita and grape. They’ll all be good; there’s no doubt about that.

But if someone gives me a choice, I’m sticking with the squirrel. I’ll take the dandelions, any day at all.

Comments always are welcome.

Fear, or Flying?

Once upon a time, there came a gloomy weekend forecast — warm, but cloudy and drizzly — so a friend suggested we go into Houston for a concert. After Saturday fooled the forecasters by dawning sunny and bright, we began to reconsider our plans. We could spend the morning tending to chores, drive into Houston in ghastly traffic, spend a couple of hours listening to music, and then drive home in the company of more or less sober fellow citizens.  Or, we could stay home and find something to do in the afternoon sunshine.

Just after lunch we set out, with no destination in mind and no real idea of what we wanted to do. Halfway to Galveston, I said, “Have you been to the Texas City Dike?” My friend hadn’t. Neither had I, despite regularly passing it while sailing to and from Galveston. I’d heard plenty of fishermen extol its virtues, but apart from summertime drownings it rarely made the news, so I’d never found a reason to go.

Clearly, that needed to change. We turned toward the water, stopping first at Boyd’s: a distinctly down-home place reputed to have the liveliest bait, the freshest table shrimp, and the tastiest Cajun Po’boys in six counties. After a little refreshment, we headed out to the dike.

Originally constructed in 1915 to keep the Texas City Harbor from silting in, the dike increasingly functioned as a pleasure pier, until its structures were destroyed by Hurricane Ike. The rebuilt five-mile-long dike is a wonder, and not simply for the engineering and labor that brought it back in only two years. Thanks to the storm, there aren’t any piers, bait stands or restaurants on the dike. For that matter, there aren’t any gift shops, carnival rides or vendors working out of the trunks of their cars.

Today, you’re limited to the dike itself: a road, a few picnic shelters, some porta-potties, and boat ramps. It’s very much a make-your-own-fun kind of place, and the fact that you’re expected to amuse yourself gives the dike a distinctly old-fashioned feel.

Once we’d driven the five-mile stretch of dike to its end, we turned around and headed back to Boyd’s. Along the way, we decided to turn onto the three-mile-long levee which extends to the north. Apart from a few bicyclists and a birder or two, we saw few people until we noticed a small cluster of cars parked at the side of the road.

Not yet aware that we’d stumbled across one of our area’s favored destinations for windsports, we got out to see what was happening. There wasn’t enough wind for kite-boarders or wind-surfers, but conditions apparently were right for powered paragliders. One man preparing to fly seemed friendly enough, so I pulled my camera from the back seat and decided to try a little sports photography.

As he took off, his flight seemed effortless, and with good reason. Post-trip sleuthing revealed we’d been watching Andy McAvin, founder of TxFlySports. Established in 1999, it’s the oldest powered paragliding school in the state and has graduated hundreds of students. Andy himself has flown and taught the sport around the world.

Browsing his site, I was surprised to discover Andy and I have something in common. I began sailing in 1987, and by 1990 was beginning my own boat-related business. His first powered paragliding experiences took place in 1997, and two years later he established his school. It must have been an equally significant career change for Andy, who previously had established himself as a Broadway actor and voice-over actor for touring companies, animations and tv commercials.

What goes up inevitably comes down, and watching Andy land was pure pleasure. The landing was easy, controlled, and seemingly effortless. Of course, four thousand or so flights and several thousand hours of experience helped to make that easy landing possible.

Powered paraglider accidents do occur, of course. One of the most recent, involving a collision between a Cessna Caravan cargo hauler and a paramotor pilot took place just outside Houston. Other local mishaps have ranged in severity from scraped knees to injured ankles and wrists, as well as a few hands damaged by contact with a propeller.

But on our warm Saturday afternoon, there were no incidents. There was only sunshine, a light breeze, and the pleasure of watching someone who knows what he’s doing, do it.

Once he’d landed, we drifted back to the car and drove on. Later, an online search for ‘Texas City powered paragliders’ led me to the Texas WingNuts website and message board. A post from someone who’d been flying at the levee Saturday afternoon caught my eye and I replied, thinking it would be nice to send along any decent photos I’d taken to the person we’d watched.

That ‘someone’ turned out to be Andy, of course, who no doubt has more than enough photos of his participation in the sport. Still, he liked the pictures, and I liked the complimentary close of his emails. There was no ‘cheers’ or ‘ciao,’ no ‘regards,’ and no ‘yours truly.’ His emails ended with what surely must be the hope and joy of every powered paraglider: the short and simple expression, Blue Skies.

In an increasingly constricted world, in a world filled with people determined to eliminate every risk, every joy, every gesture of freedom, spontaneity, and independence in their pursuit of some mythical security, the self-reliance, attention to detail, sense of responsibility, physical conditioning, and pure joie de vivre represented by people like Andy is enormously refreshing.

I have no doubt that both Andy and his students have heard the plaintive cry: “You could die doing that!” I heard that same protest when I began offshore sailing, just as a friend heard it when he announced his intention to hike through South America.

Of course an aircraft of any sort could crash. Certainly a boat could sink or a hiker be murdered. On the other hand, any of us could choke on a peanut and die. I could step off a curb and be hit by an out-of-control car. I could be mugged while taking out the trash or shot dead in a grocery store. Even staying inside the house, avoiding all the dangers of the big, wide world, isn’t foolproof. I could be confronted by a home invader, or slip in the shower and crack open my skull.

As my more anxiety-ridden friends like to remind me, anything can happen. But most of the time it doesn’t, and even if it did, I wonder: could giving in to fear ever be worth missing the blue skies of life?

Annie Dillard has her own way of putting it:

There always is the temptation in life to diddle around making itsy-bitsy friends and meals and journeys for years on end. It is all so self-conscious, so apparently moral. But I won’t have it. The world is wilder than that in all directions, more dangerous, more extravagant and bright. We are raising tomatoes when we should be raising Cain, or Lazarus.

I don’t have a thing against a good tomato, but if we find ourselves slogging along, eyes to the ground, oblivious to birds and breeze alike, perhaps we also should be raising our eyes to those beautiful blue skies. It might be time to fly.

Comments always are welcome.