Part of the reason I wrote what I did yesterday is that this last week has been difficult. Look, all I have is a resurgent sinus infection. It isn’t even anything particularly bad. It makes me want to nap rather a lot and I’m a wee bit congested.
The effect on my mood is all out of proportion: I feel tired and rather hopeless about everything in general. If I wrote about politics right now, it would be “witness to the apocalypse” stuff. Of course, a lot of people are writing in that same mode. I wonder how widespread sinus infections are right now.
I’m trying to finish short stories, because there’s deadlines on those, but lifting enough of a thought to make a coherent post seems way too much effort. Go figure.
Right now it seems well nigh impossible that humanity even got this far, given its sheer inability to find it’s *ss with two hands, braile instructions and a seeing eye dog.
Never mind. This too shall pass. I’ve learned long ago that when I’m ill this sort of mood passes as I get better. And actually, it is often towards the end of the illness that the mood gets worse.
Part of it is this sense of tiredness and weakness that makes any request, any effort an injury. “How can you ask me to walk across the kitchen? Can’t you tell what an imposition that is?” It makes me think that if I make it to ninety I will be an evil-cranky-old-woman. Which is fine. Makes me think of the crazy old woman in the village and wonder if she was crazy or just had found out that keeping the elementary schoolers away from her house equaled peace and quiet. She used to stand in front of the house shaking her walking stick and screaming: May you be sent to the congealed seas, where there crows neither chicken nor rooster, where there is no bread or cheese nor good red meat.
We were terrified of her, though I don’t think we ascribed her any superpowers or supernatural knowledge. We were just afraid she’d get louder.
I think I just discovered my plan for old age. (Nah. Screaming scares the cats.)
So, I’m taking today off. The sinus infection ate my homework, yadda yadda yadda.
Tomorrow morning (I’m posting this on the night of the 12th) and until mid afternoon, I will be unavoidably detained by obligations (yes, yes, I’ll be spending time with more important people, people who wear pants!) but I’ll be back to hang out after that. Hang out somewhat, at least. I do have writing to finish.
Oh, yeah, wildfires: we have friends in the affected zones, but none that seem to need us so far. (Most of our friends are near, but not in the evacuation zones.) And, unlike last year, the chances of the fire coming to us are REALLY low. To get to us it would need to burn through most of Colorado Springs. Let’s just say it would be a disaster of Biblical proportions.
So, unless another focus of fire starts, I’m safe.
Oh, yeah, I have it on reliable information (mom) that tomorrow is St. Anthony’s day. The Portuguese summer is marked by St. Anthony, St. John and St. Peter in quick succession a week after the next.
The holidays are truly not even vaguely religious, at least not in a Christian sense. I’m hazy on St. Anthony because it is celebrated mostly in Lisbon, but I presume it’s the same as St. John. St. John – Sao Joao (with two tildas over the last two letters) was celebrated (at least when I was a kid) by going off downtown all night, roaming in vast groups singing folk songs of the “it was a morning in may” type, hitting people on the head with elephant garlic at the end of stalks and then later (as the holiday became more civilized) with giant plastic squeaky hammers.
Somehow, everyone made their way to the seaside by morning, often two by two.
In the village – people not of an age to go maying – St. John was celebrated by lighting an immense bonfire in the center plaza (everyone contributed.) Young men jumped over it to show bravery and couples often jumped over it together. I have it on good authority that early on this was considered a legal (or at least ritual) marriage. Oh, yeah, people gave each other pots of basil.
If you stayed up till morning, and you were supposed to you had breakfast of café au lait and toast before going to bed.
The whole thing is such a mess of traditions accreted to what I believe was originally a Celtic mid-summer holiday that it’s almost hopeless to try to pull it apart.
To make things more completely insane, kids in my day built outdoor nativities: with plaster figures, much cheaper than the expensive (or in our case severely incomplete. It’s a long story) nativities used at Christmas, but far, far more elaborate. It was sort of “nativity meets model railroading.” It wasn’t unusual for these to include all of Bethlehem with figures of people going about their lawful occupations. Some of us — okay, some of me, I think I was the only girl to get this involved – would actually put in rivers and fountains. Anyway – again, to make things odder – by tradition kids under ten would run around with a figurine of St. John clutched in their fist hitting up every adult in sight for “a penny for the saint.”
I completely got Guy Fawkes when I first heard of it, and at the same time I wonder if both have a common substratum, or if it’s just that kids are shameless beggars and take every opportunity to monetize popular sentiment.
Let me point out that at least when I was young, Portuguese were so bad at publicizing this that tourists caught downtown at St. John’s often looked between excited and terrified, since they had clue zero what was going on. They’d go bouncing along with the dancing groups, but their eyes would be going “Is this where they kill Americans?” (It was usually Americans. There was a higher chance the Brits knew something like this.) When I was between fourteen and sixteen I spent a lot of time explaining St. John in broken English to the visitors.
Anyway, St. John’s connection to bonfires seems grim in Colorado just now. Robert told me that firefighters would probably take it badly if we run over to the fires and hit the firefighters on the head with squeaky hammers. This led to a discussion of where the hammer might have come from: the hammer as both symbol/tool of artificer gods like Vulcan and Ptah and as a symbol of warrior power: Tor. The discussion shed more heat than light. It usually does. But we had much, much fun with it.
But it makes it clear to me how insane it is to read too much into local rituals or mythologies because the layers come in and drift, and after a while it’s hard to tell what the pots of basil have to do with the cafe au lait and the toast.
It also makes me wonder how much we really know about civilizations that we know only by representations of events on pots, and by fragmental literature. Perhaps if we could go back in time, we’d all be “Is this when they kill time travelers”? (I now have a great wish to read The Fox In The Forest by Ray Bradbury.)
And it seems I wrote a post after all. Disjointed and odd, but a post. And I’m perhaps a little less depressed. Maybe tomorrow I’ll buy some potted basil. The cats will eat it, but that’s not the point.
So, behave yourselves till I get back. Absolutely NO setting fire to the internets, and no bonfires on the blog. And I’m CERTAINLY not giving you a penny for the saint, even if you say you’re under ten years of age at heart!