Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Grasshopper and the Ants

New Nesting Moon

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IN a field one summer’s day a Grasshopper was hopping about, chirping and singing to its heart’s content. An Ant passed by, bearing along with great toil an ear of corn he was taking to the nest.

“Why not come and chat with me,” said the Grasshopper, “instead of toiling and moiling in that way?”

“I am helping to lay up food for the winter,” said the Ant, “and recommend you to do the same.”

“Why bother about winter?” said the Grasshopper; “we have got plenty of food at present.” But the Ant went on its way and continued its toil. When the winter came the Grasshopper had no food, and found itself dying of hunger, while it saw the ants distributing every day corn and grain from the stores they had collected in the summer.

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Douglas Squirrel by Powerkey
Can you feel it? The change is in the air. The light is a bit thinner, a bit more golden and the sun is lower in the sky, shining right in my eyes for more of the afternoon. There are more leaves on the trails I walk every day. Mostly Indian plum and Big Leaf Maple, the early changers, but more leaves on the street trees are turning red and gold. Every stump and log in the park I work in is covered with the ripped apart Douglas fir cones left behind by the Chickaree squirrels. The coastal forest we hiked in today is chalk full of ripe red huckleberries and salal and a few acorns can be found on the ground in other forests. Mornings are cooler, despite warm afternoons, but the real signs of autumn include the winter flock of bushtits and the first wooly bear caterpillar sighting. 

With the first signs of autumn come the first inklings that my season of frolicking and play might need to come to an end. My summer job ends in a very short number of weeks and I have nothing lined up for the fall. As I analyze my complete and utter lack of taking responsibility for my career path since graduation, I am coming up against some big fears I will need to work on this dark season. It isn't the introspective season yet, but I see it coming.

via Dierken
In another version of the classic Aesop's fable, the grasshopper "perishing with famine, passed by and earnestly begged for a little food." When they learn that he did not store treasure in the summer, they deride him by saying "If you were foolish enough to sing all the summer, you must dance supperless to bed in the winter." I hope that the winter, and the ants I may run into, will be a bit more forgiving of my summer of singing than the ants in this tale. But I guess we'll have to burn that bridge when we get to it.

Have you been an ant or a grasshopper this summer? What signs of autumn are you seeing around you? What work do you see in front of you for the winter? What is your favorite part of summer that you will miss most?

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New Nesting Moon 2011: Golden Autumn and The Book of Nature

New Nesting Moon 2010: Ramadan 

New Nesting Moon 2009:  Breathe a Sigh of Relief  

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Living on the Lip of Insanity

Father's Moon

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We have fallen into the place
where everything is music.
The strumming and the flute notes
rise into the atmosphere,
and even if the whole world's harp
should burn up, there will still be
hidden instruments playing.

Poems reach up like spindrift and the edge
of driftwood along the beach, wanting!

They derive
from a slow and powerful root
that we can't see.

Stop the words now.
Open the window in the center of your chest,
and let the spirits fly in and out.

The father's Moon has come and gone and I was busy. It was Ramadan, the holy month of fasting for the world's 1.6 billion Muslims. In past years I marked this holy month strongly in my own calendar, but this year it mostly slipped me by. It was a hot, fun, crazy, big, exhausting month and much slipped me by. I was busy grabbing that tiger by the tail for all I am worth. You shoulda seen the other guy!
I have lived on the lip of insanity,
wanting to know the reasons, knocking on a door.
It opens.
I have been knocking from the inside!
For my thoughts on the energies of the Father's Moon see past posts with this label as well as posts about August Eve, which is the solar festival so closely aligned with this lunar month's energies. I have a lot to say about this time of the year and the energies manifest here, so do go back and check out what I've written in the past. The blazing days of August and the blazing time of All That Is Manly and Good In the World are manifest these days. How are you seeing them? What does the Father's Moon mean to you? What were you up to this month?

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Father's Moon 2010: Fourth of July (one of my very favorite posts of all time) and Robin Hood

Father's Moon 2009: The New Father's Moon and The Aftermark of Almost Too Much Love (another of my all time favorite posts!)

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Portland Boys

August Eve

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Some people spend weeks preparing elaborate rituals to celebrate the sabbats, complete with memorized scripts, special clothes and props. I am not one of those people. As with my summer solstice "ritual", I didn't really know I was celebrating August first until I was up to my eyeballs in it. It turned out exactly perfect, though. It always does.

The first day of August is the date often given for Lughhnasadh or Lammas, the cross quarter day marking the end of summer and the first harvest. On that morning I posted a John Payne poem on Facebook, one of his series of month poems that I love so much because they seem to just perfectly reflect the way I feel about a given season. "And the sun blazing in the blue o'erhead, "Would God that it were night!" is apt to say And "Would the summer-heats were oversped!""

As I've told you, summer is a strung out, crazy time for me, and posting that poem was about all I could put together in terms of "celebrating" the festival. I can hardly get it together to clean the bathroom after a day of work and play, let alone plan or execute an extra celebration. And anyway, I was getting ready to go to a Timbers's game that weekend.
Portland boys, we are here – Whoa, Whoa
Portland boys, we are here – Whoa, Whoa
Portland boys, we are here
Steal your women, drink your beer!
Whoa, Whoa, Whoa
Timbers Joey! I'm leaning over the railing just out of frame to the right.
The Portland Timbers are the city's Major League Soccer team and are kind of a big deal around here. Years ago, when the Timbers were a little known, minor league team, a group of fans formed themselves into a supporters group that came to be known as the Timbers Army. Wikipedia claims it all started with 8 guys in 2001, but today the Army claims eight SECTIONS of the soccer stadium. Timbers tshirts, jerseys, hats, bumper stickers and other swag are de rigur for a certain type of Portlander and the waiting list for Timbers Army season tickets makes them coveted status markers in this town. The games themselves include loud and constant chanting, scarf waving, drums and trumpets, and other hooligan-esque characteristics of soccer supporters around the world.  
Burn, destroy, wreck and kill – Whoa, Whoa
Burn, destroy, wreck and kill – Whoa, Whoa
Burn, destroy, wreck and kill
Portland Timbers bloody will!
Whoa, Whoa, Whoa
I personally am not much of a sports fan so have not really followed this aspect of my city's culture over the last few years, but lately I've been more and more aware of the Timbers situation. My dad got a job working at the stadium a couple years ago, and lately I have made a number of friends who are Timbers Army fanatics. I have been thinking of trying to go to a game but without connections you have to pay through the nose for a seat not in the Army. What's the point of that? Finally, though, one of my friends got me a ticket for a game.

August Eve is the time in the wheel of the year when we celebrate All that is Manly and Good in the World. It is a time for competition and feats of physicality that show off strength, daring and skill. It is a time for celebrating the "bright, positive, masculine principle". I have been surrounded by young boys this summer at my work and see first hand how deeply ingrained being loud and physical, shooting and clashing is in them. In our feminist influenced culture of child rearing, we tend to want boys to be quieter, gentler and more in control of their bodies but without letting them experience their physicality, they will never be in control of it. And male physical power and testosterone driven competition are necessary elements in this world. Fatherlove and warrior power do not solve all problems, but we have enough problems in this world that we need all the tools in our toolbox. Including those brought by little boys who build forts, pretend sticks are guns and punch each other when they are frustrated.

Timbers Army! I'm visible on the lower left.
An afternoon in the Timbers Army is a full sensory immersion in the world of All That is Manly and Good in the World. Yes, there are many women in the Timbers Army, but the whole thing is so testosterone driven as to be essentially male in essence. The day was one of the hottest days of the summer so far, and the Army section is on the north, very sunny, part of the stadium. After a trek to get to the field, we proceeded to chant and cheer for two hours straight. It was a good game in a terrible season and the Portland Boys came back from behind to a draw. A highlight was the goal that tied the game up in the second half, complete with dark green smoke bombs and a crowd gone completely batty. I'm a tourist in the Army, here for the atmosphere and the fun, not the game or the players, but I couldn't help but being on the edge of my seat (er, leaning over the railing.. no one sits in the Army) when the play moved closer to the goal and the ball went zipping back and forth. Those men are strong and fast and skilled, Manly and Good. 
We are green, we are white – Whoa, Whoa
We are green, we are white – Whoa, Whoa
We are green, we are white
We are bloody dynamite!
Whoa, Whoa, Whoa
The evening ended, as all good evenings do, with a party and a trek. After playing some bar basketball and drinking some more cheap beer my friend and I set off back across town. The day had topped out at 95 degrees, the first day to get so hot all summer, and evening was coming on. It was still warm, but lovely as we wove our way through downtown towards the river. We splashed through Salmon Street Springs, lingered on the Hawthorne Bridge and stopped at a food cart for late night poutine and people watching. By the time we got home, we were sweaty, beat up and physically and emotionally exhausted. Just as you should be at the end of a good festival, right? 

In the week since my Timbers Army Experience I have been enjoying noticing the subtle turning of the season into autumn. The days are getting shorter, the sun is lower in the sky and more leaves are tinged gold or russet. The harvest is in full swing with markets full of berries and tomatoes. And the Timbers fight on, maybe they'll win a game or two before the end of the season. Even if they don't, though, they will have fought the good fight and that's what All that is Manly and Good in the World is really all about. 
We’ll sing for you Timbers
‘Til you finish the fight
There’s a party in Portland
No one’s sleeping tonight
How did you celebrate the August festival? How are you celebrating the masculine principle in your life and the world around you? Have you ever been a rabid supporter of a sports team or known people who were? How are you celebrating the first harvest in your life? 

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August Eve 2011: An August Journey

August Eve 2010: August Eve, The Subtle Turning

August Eve 2009: August Eve In the Woods!