LONGLEAF STORIES

full circle in the hundred acre wood

Easter Sunday morning looked a lot like Ash Wednesday: sideways rain, deep rumbling thunder and those vertical flashes of lightning that make your old dental fillings buzz.

Buck and I had a case of the mulligrubs on Saturday night and declared we were good and tired of all the publicity Jesus was getting this year, and we didn’t want to fight our way through a bunch of overheated Episcopalians fresh from viewing Passion of The Christ.

But by morning those declarations seemed a bit harsh, so when Buck greeted me and said, “Do you want to go to church?” I said, “Sure!” Stepping into the shower, I peeked back around the curtain and said, “I don’t think we ought to let that Jesus guy get in the way of our worshipping God!” I could hear Buck laughing out loud as he brushed his teeth.

The high point of Sunday’s service was when the choir sang a portion of Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus from The Messiah. The sopranos continued to kick it up another notch until I felt like a stringed instrument myself, whose key had been turned until it was just barely under the breaking point.

When we left, it was still raining, but by late afternoon, having washed everything clean and settled the dust, the front had moved on through, leaving us with a perfect April evening for the Birthday Party. I spent the afternoon making preparations for dinner on the porch:

 

Broiled shrimp in rosemary, jalapeno and mint pesto
White bean and sun-dried tomato dip with pita toasts
Roasted red pepper and spinach gratin
Mediterranean Chicken with wild mushrooms and capers on linguini
Chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream

 

We lit yellow candles and basked in the lingering sunset. The children ran around outside, down to the spring to chunk pebbles, and back, pink-cheeked. “Are you done yet?”

Two of the children, April and Alex, had birthdays on Easter Sunday. Cousins. “Can we open our presents now?”

“And eat the cake,” piped up one whose birthday it wasn’t.

Later, as the adults were sated with wine and the children saturated with chocolate cake and ice cream, some of us stayed on the porch talking, while several of the children wrapped themselves in fleece afghans laid out like cord wood on the living room sofas.

I heard soft, disjointed musical sounds coming from a corner of the darkened porch. A harmonica. Alex, the birthday boy, was slumped down in a green Adirondack style chair, breathing into the mouth harp. His mother told me he had found it today when — at her persistent insistence — he had finally made a start at cleaning his room.

I slipped inside, careful not to awaken his cousin (the birthday girl) or his sisters, opened the piano bench and found my own half-forgotten harmonica. Sliding down into a green chair beside Alex, I breathed into the Hohner Blues Harp. He jumped with surprise. “Yours has a case,” he said, eyeing the royal blue plastic case laying on the arm rest.

We had a contest to see who could hold a note the longest. I used to play the flute and know tricks about breathing, so Alex didn’t stand a chance. He was impressed.

I motioned for him to follow me, and we eased out the screen door, onto the dark sidewalk, out into the starry night. Joy! I hop-scotched up and down the sidewalk, playing my harmonica badly and loud. He followed suit. We hooted, hollered, jumped and danced. We started laughing and couldn’t stop.

 

Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free, Silhouetted by the sea, circled by the circus sands, With all memory and fate driven deep beneath the waves, Let me forget about today until tomorrow.

Hey! Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me,
I’m not sleepy and there is no place I’m going to.
Hey! Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me,
In the jingle jangle morning I’ll come followin’ you.

(from Mr. Tambourine Man, by Bob Dylan)

 

A cloud passed over. Light rain began to fall. And this newly minted eight year old and I held our faces up to catch the drops.

 

 

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