Friday, June 24, 2011

Forever Young

Two Treasures From My Personal Library

This week I’ve entered the magical worlds of Winnie the Pooh (A.A. Milne, 1926) and Miss Suzy (Miriam Young, 1964). I adventured with Pooh, Piglet, Tigger, and Eeoyre, reading the story from beginning to end, a first edition passed from my uncle to my mom to me. The story, though laugh out loud funny, is about love and the meaning and importance of friendship. Pooh knows the value of true friends and adventure and nurtures his relationships, a reminder that friendship thrives on the giving of oneself for the good of the whole. What a truly delightful read that takes on new meaning as an adult. Advice: read this again from cover to cover.
      “Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. "Pooh," he whispered. 
      "Yes, Piglet?" 
      "Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's paw, "I just wanted to be sure of you."
Today I visited Miss Suzy the squirrel. Reading as an adult, I understand both my fascination with this kind, gentle squirrel and why it was my favorite childhood book.  Miss Suzy epitomizes optimism, forgiveness, and general goodness. She reminds me that a contentment with life, no matter the curve balls, helps turn adversity into opportunity.  Miss Suzy somehow assures me that if I follow her lead, allowing some help from strangers along the way, that life can take on new meaning from disappointing and even frightening situations.

      “My, what a lovely house!” thought Miss Suzy. “It is fit for a queen. But it needs a housekeeper, so it is just the place for me.”
As I move through my summer reading list, these two books from my childhood waved at me from my bookshelves, reminding me that they were old friends begging to be re-visited. Thank you Pooh and Miss Suzy for a wonderful attitude adjustment at a paramount juncture in my summer.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Cicada Notes from Columbia, Missouri

Maple Branch Hanging Over My Deck

The heat and cicadas have silenced me this week. 
Some thoughts:
For an event 13 years in the making, the city of Columbia, Missouri, finds itself in the epicenter of cicada numbers and action. Reports of either clear or minimal cicada sightings include all parts of the state: Springfield, St. Louis, Rolla, and Marion County. Joplin deserves a cicada-free recovery environment. If something has divinely protected Joplin and shot them all to central Columbia, so be it.
Some observations:
A family friend and local attorney Glen Ehrhardt wrote: “Can someone explain why every cicada around my office today felt the urge to take up residence in my vehicle when i parked under a tree this afternoon and cracked the window half an inch. And why the need for all the "making out" in the back seat??? Really can't they get a room.....................” 
My brother discovered that the sound of the cicada song mirrored his weed eater. When the weed eater hummed, my handsome brother was immediately covered with hundreds of female cicadas. Weed eater goes off--the cicadas flee. I asked him if he felt sexy. He gave me the bird in response.
Only to discover that these beasts may be bisexual little critters, and as in life the woman usually holds the cards. Males will sing for hours and hours, hoping to attract a female date. When the female wants to mate, all she does is flick her wings. And she is a love ’em and leave ’em type; any ‘ol male will do. Conversely, Mr. Cicada sings and flies for hours, looking for the most attractive partner.
But back to the sexual identity of the male cicada. It appears the insect can pick up an STD of sorts. Cicadas, both genders, can become infected with a fungal parasite that causes the males wings to snap the sound of the female causing males to swarm males. Upon infection, females only mate one more time where a male just can’t turn it off. David Marshall of the University of Connecticut explains: “They keep flicking and flicking and getting molested by other males.”
Discarded Shells

Columbia style:

My funky little hometown made national news this week when a local ice cream shop on Ninth Street mixed up a batch of cicada ice cream. They sold out in one day. National media outlets including the Today Show, NPR's Morning Edition, Time, and MSNBC reported the story and the delayed decision of Columbia’s health department to say, “hmmm...maybe not.”
Every insect story deserves a maraschino cherry on top: This week the University of Missouri hosted the 13th Invertebrate Sound and Vibration International meeting in the Bond Life Sciences Center with more than 100 scientist from around the globe. Go figure.
The beat goes on in CoMo-or more accurately the buzz just can’t turn off.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Water by Philip Larkin

Water, Sleep, Faith, Imagination

I toss and turn tonight sweating from illness, I get up for some water. To drink, of course. Yet as the faucet runs, my fingers instinctively flick the water on my face and then more. It felt like standing naked in the rain (gently falling now in Boone County) or crying in the shower. As I close this with the sharing of a favorite poem, one that makes use of water, I'm uncertain if I will walk onto the deck or allow my mattress to digest me for the magic, healing wonders of sleep. 

Water by Philip Larkin
If I were called in
To construct a religion
I should make use of water.

Going to church
Would entail a fording
To dry, different clothes;

My liturgy would employ
Images of sousing,
A furious devout drench,

And I should raise in the east
A glass of water
Where any-angled light
Would congregate endlessly.