October 13, 2008
Ohhhkkkkaaay. It wasn't walking along the river road at midnight and I didn't see any barefoot girls dancing in the moonlight (but that does not mean there were none.). It was a little two-lane county road, the trees arching overhead. The moon sailed the skies (Himself's viewpoint), to me the moon poured silver syrup from a golden ladle across the hills.
The funniest little pop-up memories can come to me at night, out under the stars and Moon, deep in the country. The explanation of why October's Moon is called the Blood Moon: As the weather cools off, as the crops are finished and stored away or sold and the fields prepared for the next crops, it's time to butcher animals for the winter, culling out the excess as well as the animals meant expressly for this.
Yes, there is still a lot of hunting, and harvesting. Being reminded that long ago, the year actually ended at the end of October, early November...and often puzzling as to why I was kept strictly away from all the aspects of the animals' demises. One grandfather took his animals to the local (miles and miles away but not too far) slaughterhouse, my other grandfather "saw to it" himself He really really really wanted to be sure everything was done perfectly. To his exacting standards. Cattle and pigs, his sheep were all sold or shorn. I was never sure which ones were ready to be sold as food, (lambs in the spring) but the shearing ones were rather obvious at shearing time.
Rather like the slogan "Contented Cows" for milk, well, he believed that careful care produced the best of everything. No feed lots, no seperation of calves and their mothers and as for the pigs...well, I supposed they believed that they lived in a porcine paradise. He used to tell me about his father and his father's pigs ran in the woods, carefully marked (notched) on one ear and how they had to be rounded up (a pig-round-up!) and sorted out.
He would tell the funniest silliest stories about his animals and they all knew him and responded to his mysterious whistles and clicks and snapping of fingers and the walking stick he had. I was mightily impressed every time.
Then, of course, he'd have to begin his whole process of curing his hams, he was rather famous for his three-year-old hams. And no no one makes them!
It was very comforting, to listen to his stories, tag along with him as he went about the chores and overseeing so many details. One got a sense of a cycle of life and earth and weather, flowing almost (but not always) seamlessly ever forward.
There was this song, several of the older people sang it, sang it to us when we were babies or walking from place to place, over the farms and woods. Only now, do I really question and wonder..why in French? Searching my memory, I remember a few words and lyrics about the little girl raccoon!? I think. Their older relatives sang it to them and once again, my little heart wrapped itself in a fine sense of continuity and care.
As I told Himself once, early in our dating times, it still grieved me that no one sang in parent's house anymore. He gave me the funniest, questioning glance, drawing his eyebrows together. "Your parents sang? To you, around the house?"
I blushed furiously, mentally kicking myself for forgetting once again, I wasn't in Kentucky anymore, I was in the suburbs of Central Texas! Only one person on our street was a native Texan and he was very old and had lived in SanFrancisco most of his working years, he was some sort of retired professor that had a family ranch somewhere in South Texas. How he ended up in the Austin area to retire, we never knew. His wife as a WWII war bride, from Dorset.
Anyway, I blushed and brushed my bangs out of my eyes and tried to make a joke out of it. "Oh sure, my parents, grandparents aunts uncles, well, everybody, even people that worked there, had a tendency to sing songs and bits of songs a lot. And everyone sang songs to the babies and little ones."
He looked at me so oddly, I shrugged my shoulders and he reached out and took my hand and said, "Don't be defensive, it's just I'm trying to imagine a house, a home, where the people sing."
I poked him in the ribs and sang very quickly, "Jimmy crack corn and I don't care." And then hushed. I sputtered and started up again, "I wish I were an apple, a-hangin' on a tree and everytime my sweetheart passed, she'd take a bite of me."
And like that old old comedian used to say, I poked him again, harder and began to tickle him, "Hey, I got a million of 'em."
My mother used to sing as she worked on her flowers and garden but after we moved to Texas, only rarely did we hear her voice as she did things in the yard or house. And I still recall the last time I ever heard her sing at all. She sang lots of silly songs to our brohter and taught us a lot of them too.
I used to love being somewhere about the farm or barns or down by the creek and hear someone's voice, even if out of tune, ringing up over the hills or around the house or pouring out the open double-doors on the small barn. Or even, more than once, from up high, perched atop a roof somewhere.
On the cool autumn evenings, when it was so sweetly quiet, one could listen to God, from over the hills and far away, lyrics and songs would waft in the windows and more than once, I was surprised by singing coming from somewhere on beautiful full-moon nights.
My grandmother sang to her chickens, little songs to and about the chickens, she sang to her horses and calves and her grandchildren and her gardens. My rough and tumble uncles would join in with her and they would dissolve in laughter, for often I suspect some of the songs were very very "naughty." Like, one I only really knew as "Kitchen Man." I had to become a grown-up before I tracked the lyrics, song and artist to that song down!
Somehow, it's all woven and looped together, the land, the songs, the Moons, the family.
Or it used to be.