October 1, 2008
For some reason, this seems to apply for my "Thoughts for the Day."
I am the thunder on your roofs!
I am the wind shattering all!
I am the virus that does not spare!
I am the disasters at the Stock Exchange
Gladly my sun signs all your plagues. -Depestre
Now on to other things...things like it's the very first day of October! It was a teeny bit chilly this morning and still quite dark even after the coffee was made. I threw open the back door so the scent of brewing Caffe Verona could flow and greet the sweet morning air. (And the kitchen was redolent with the aroma of black-as-sin coffee, plump sausages and oh yes, freshly-ironed Oxford cloth.)
So many of us, both the BigGirls and we "LittleGirls" were born in October, the jokes about those long cold late January and Feburary nights are part of our growing up. One aunt has four daughters all born between October 1st and the third week of October, over a period of years. Cheri and I were both born in October, tommorrow is her birthday and she's still deciding which birthday it's going to be!
We all know the birth times and yes, even the phase of the Moon when we were born, we cannot remember not knowing and I carefully recorded the moon phases when my own sons were born, which amuses them to no end. It's funny, in this small family, two members were born at half-moon, one a full-on Moon and one in the Dark-of-the-Moon.
Alas, I am the only member of the family (except for a long dead grand-uncle) whose birthday is so late in October. And alas part II, I am the only one born in the Dark of the Moon. During a snowstorm that turned into a mini-blizzard in full glorious autumn. Only recently, however, I learned beyond any doubt, and here this gets a bit icky for me and I'm still dealing with it, I suppose: I was born with a caul. I guess that's one of putting it. This, apparently was one big freakin' deal to the family. Nevermind my near-death experience of being born and afterwards. That pales in comparison, apparently. I still wonder, though, was it truly such a good idea to save such a poor little scrap of baby that I was? It was called "failure to latch" according to the nurse hired by my grandparents to look after me even as my great-grandfather refused to hardly leave the hospital or nursery until I was brought home. He violently disagreed with any notion that his presence could hurt, he didn't want me alon, not being touched, he stroked my back, apparently for hours and hours, until it was adjudged the baby that was me was strong enough to be rocked and taken out and held and then, he rocked me for hours and hours. Along with my beloved MamaBelle, between the two of them they somehow figured out a way to keep this bruised and cut (high-forceps delivery) newborn from starving to death.
I still shiver whenever one of the aunts or Belle herself told me how they all felt, that even as small and new as I was, I wasn't too sure about staying in this life, staying alive, at-all. It's funny to listen to them semi-argue as how they variously all understood, "Poor poor wee thing, all bruised and that awful cut behind that pretty pink ear with those black curls all around it, and lord! The bruises, we had never seen a newborn so black and blue. And tiny..well, your mama barely gained ten pounds during that whole time she was a-carryin' you. Had to be forced to eat at-all. No wonder you weren't too sure, babies are mighty sensitive but of course, you were off the scale, being born with a caul and all."
Of course, I sit and squirm and blush (at my age) but ponder so much on this...it really does rather sort of explain my position in the families a bit, both sides: Maternal and paternal. And the mother in me winces for that baby...such a struggle to be born, struggle to live, to thrive. I don't really feel surprise that Great-Granddaddy made sure that Belle was there in that tiny tiny hospital. (They never did transfer me to Lexington.)
I was very embarrassed to confess that yes, of course, I had read in novels about the whole caul-thing, even some of Himself's naval adventure novels mention how sailors long ago in England bought small pieces of caul (however did they know what they were buying) because it protected one from drowning. My other grandmother called it "being born with a veil" and would get all teary and never mentioned it when I was around, I only overheard MamaC. mention it a few times when I was out of the room and the one time she tried to speak to Himself about it. So of course, my aunts are shocked and enlightened me.
It's a funny thing, knowing that all the families all are very aware of this, one watching any of them going about their daily business would never ever think these people are so very serious about things like this.
However, they are.
Very, very serious.
Alas, I am too much a product of the years away, my parents and their logical, deadly serious and "rational" approach to everything, a sort of occuptional hazard of many BigBlue types.
Still, not long ago, I was gently reminded that I was born in the Dark-of-the-Moon and of course, that affected just about everything about little ol' me. Children born in the Dark-of-the-Moon...well.
At times, I have felt almost as if in some strange way, I was sort of a talisman for the family, I have overheard several people sigh with relief that at least I'm back, not too far and then there is that curious soft sigh and even lower voiced spoken,"But, you know, it would have been so much better, so much better, if she had come back ages and ages ago. We should have..." and truly it's not that I stand around eavesdropping, it's that people forget how voices carry.
At times, I look back into eyes filled with love and sad soft tears, watch the little struggles of people trying to control themselves, see the expressions in their eyes (so many shades of such brillant blue in my family), their hands tightening upon my mine, long long looks and rapidly-blinking eyes, big hard hugs, handkerchiefs (dainty white ones, big ol' red ones, fine linen with monograms) and I pat and hug and squeeze back, still confused and mystified.
And awfully deliriously happy that Fall is slipping into the air, memories of the splendid falls and parties and bonfires of my growing up years and oh, the apples! Of course, now I have to go to orchards to buy them but still! Real live apples, Cortlands and Winesaps and Northern Spry.
I think of my grandmother, carefully making apple butter and conserves, the scent thick and sweet and spicy on the very frosty air, that long kitchen table, my own little paring knife (where is that knife now?) and her voice, soft and lilting, telling me a big big story all about the signs before I was born.
And I think of all those books in those old trunks, how that copy of Carmilla by Joseph Sheriden La Fanu was printed in 1880 ( the name of some long-gone Louisville booksellers) and the thrills we had as I read that aloud to a room full of family, only we were outside.
All these years later, I am still terribly curious. Just who did purchase that book? Before I could read, I remember being told stories about old families with dark mysteries and secrets...tales thrilling and scary and well-told.
So of course, Dracula was a bit of a let-down, for I had been raised on stories that insisted that creatures of great beauty and power lived alongside us, watching, watching, watching.
Ah, those Celtic genes. The sheer power of them.