Saturday, June 27, 2009

Miss Esther and The Lake of Sorrows

Melancholy days are blanketed with rain. The sun drifts as if lost, trying to find its way through the clouds. A cold wind carries time on its shoulders.

This is a melancholy day for Miss Esther. She stands on the shore of an ice blue lake crowned with soft waves and searches the distant shore to find the line where the water and sky merge.

Someone dear to her passed away in a country far away. Her friend brightened her dark days with such a music not heard before, and for that she will always be grateful. His voice was universal and in his passing a small part of her passed also.

And so, Miss Esther stands on the shore of the Lake of Sorrows to say goodbye, alone and with her thoughts.

The sun returns tomorrow reminding her to seek joy in all the days of her life.

The beat goes on and on and on......

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Cloverdale's Recreational Dance Theater

Hello Friends,
What do you do when you’ve got nothing to do on a Tuesday night? What do you do when Cloverdale Weekend Television is showing Gunsmoke reruns? What do you do when you’ve seen the movie playing at The Grand Theater?
Some, out of complete boredom, resort to front porch neighbor watching. Others throw the kids in the car and drive to Cloverdale’s Recreation Center to experience Cloverdale’s very own Recreational Dance Theater (RDT), your entertainment of Last Resort.

Last night I bit the bullet after thirty minutes on the front porch and went to see an RDT original production of “Flowers blowing in a Silent Breeze”. I paid my .50 cents at the door and found no trouble finding a seat. The Center’s small theater holds 75. I had my choice of 60 seats. I didn’t want to sit too close to the front. A friend warned me about one of dancers who has a problem with excessive perspiration. When he dances the part of the incoming thunderstorm his movements include violent spinning. The physical exertion produces a salty moisture which rains down on anyone within the first three rows.

After several attempts I found a fairly conformable seat in the center of the theater. The Recreational Center’s shoe string budget prohibits the purchase of new chairs so it makes do with the original metal / wood folding chairs purchased when the Center was built at the turn of the Century. While waiting for the performance I tried to decipher some of the pen knife carvings on the seat of the chair. There were markings from as far back as 1912. Strangely enough I couldn’t find anything recent. I think the wood is petrifying making it too difficult to carve.

At 7:30 P.M. the fluorescent lights switched off leaving the eleven of us in the dark. I’m sure something was wrong because the curtain didn’t open. There were sounds from back stage. I heard something fall, followed by several words the speaker didn’t intend to escape into the audience. One minute into the dark I heard an unusual sound coming from several rows behind me at the back of the theater. It was a slobbering sound, like a dog salivated over his master. It was the teenage couple that came into the theater just before the lights went out. I wondered why a teenage boy and girl would come to an RDT performance. Now the answer was audibly obvious.

Three minutes into the dark the curtain opened. The slobbering stopped until the music started. There before me, standing frozen in position, were the dancers of the RDT. The RDT is sponsored by the village recreational department and is open to anyone with an interest in dance - no matter your physical condition or talent. The Director is mindful o f this unique situation and tends to put the less talented into the background to play waving trees or floating clouds. The mildly gifted dancers, those who can bend down and touch their toes, dance the principal parts.

In tonight’s performance the Widow Matthews played the Rose Queen. She can still do the splits at 73 years old! Going down was the easy part. Getting back up was difficult. Two butterflies fluttered around to lift her when the amazed audience stopped applauding. Norm from the hardware shop danced the violet. Lorenda from the Butcher Shop was the Daisy.

At half time the florescent lights in the hall came back on. There were still four us in the audience. I felt uncomfortable. I felt sorry for the dancers. They were giving it their best to a community with little interest. Isn’t that the story of the arts in today’s society? A few minutes before the start of the second half the Theater Director stepped out from behind the curtain and announced that due to injuries suffered in the first half, the second half of the dance was canceled. He asked those of us that remained to step forward and collect a .25 cent refund.

I took my .25 cents and walked home. It was still light outside. I stopped on the porch, brushed off my rocker and sat down to watch the neighbors. At 10:00 P.M. it would be time for bed.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Mr. Sunderland's Flowers

Mr. Sunderland lived at 14 Morning Glory Circle in Cloverdale. He was Cloverdale’s Post Master until he retired fifteen years ago. As Post Master he became acquainted with the citizens of Cloverdale. He knew many of us on a first name basis and always gave a warm personal greeting when the line at the Post Office deposited you at his window.

Mr. Sunderland loved flowers. His front and back gardens on Morning Glory Circle were blanketed in all the spectrum’s colors. His flowers were tenderly cared for by he and his wife Rose until she passed away ten years ago. After her death he became more obsessed with his flowers - caring for them morning, noon and night. His gardens went from fantastic to marvelous to breathtaking to unmatched (except for the formal gardens found in Capital City).

Every summer Mr. Sunderland decorated a small float for the community parade. This picture shows him wearing his festival costume while making a last minute inspection before the parade's start down the High Street. The highlight of his year was walking beside his float while waving to his friends and admirers. Every little girl he passed received a flower plucked right from the float. By parade's end entire sections of the float were blossomless. The remaining flowers were given to the children waiting at the parade's end in the Piggly Wiggly parking lot.

Mr. Sunderland showed his love for community by sending freshly cut flowers from his gardens to every marriage and funeral in the village. He delivered his floral arrangements in full formal dress fitting the occasion. As the season passed and the days grew short, his gardens lost their color. By the first frost his yard was brown and bare. Mr. Sunderland would wait patiently through the cold winter until spring brought new plantings, and color once again radiated from 14 Morning Glory Circle.

Mr. Sunderland died in February. On the day of his funeral the Lutheran Church was filled with flowers from the citizens of Cloverdale. There were so many arrangements the funeral home lined the sidewalk from the church's parking lot to the chapel with flowers. Hundreds of villagers lined the street leading from the church to the village cemetery throwing flower pedals before the hearse as it passed slowly by carrying their beloved Flower Man.

At the end of the day, in the dark of winter, one patch of ground in Cloverdale looked like the very breath of Spring in all its colorful glory. And at its center slept Mr. Sunderland, beside his lovely Rose, the flower of his life.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Turner and Establisment Sucks

Turner Bateman and his son celebrated Father’s Day by getting their hair cut and styled. Turner is trying to revive punk rock but finding the going difficult. His band “Establishment Sucks” played at a few local clubs until Cloverdale’s Council of Churches labeled their their music as “an affront to family, faith, and the rule of law”. The Council’s statement when on to say, ”All good citizens should do everything in their power to curtail this kind of anti establishment element from taking hold in our society”.

The only hall that still permits them to play is owned by the Unitarians. They can still draw a crowd but the numbers are noticeably down from the days before the edict was issued. Turner and his followers look at this implied censorship as a breech of the Citizen’s Charter upon which all Freedoms in the Confederacy are based. They believe their freedom of speech has been violated and decided to sue the Council and demand a retraction of the statement and an apology. To pay the court costs, the band held three fund raiser concerts. The Confederacy Civil Liberties Union will represent them at no charge.

The band also called for a march on the Village Hall. The march brought more spectators than marchers. Cloverdale’s citizens came out to see what the local paper described as a ‘Clown’s Parade’. Both adults and children clapped in appreciation of the unique costumes and clown’s unbelievable hair styles. One local villager said the Punk Rocker’s demonstration was the “best damn parade this village has seen in ten years!”

Cloverdale’s Council of Churches refused to apologize for their statement and have retained the law firm of Dolt, Dilbert and Dull to represent them when the matter comes before the Shire’s First Court next month.

When a local reporter asked Turner why a punk rock band called Establishment Sucks would use the ‘establishment’ to address the wrong they felt was done to them, Turner shouted,”Death to order, Long live chaos.” Then in a subdued tone he added,”but a revolution doesn’t happen overnight. I guess what I’m saying is we need the establishment to destroy the establishment. Yeah, that’s what I’m saying and you can quote me.”
“So,” the reporter continued,”you want the establishment to help you destroy itself?”
“Got it in one!” Turner shouted. He picked up his son, took his wife's hand, waved to the couple dozen or so that gathered to see the court papers filed, and walked to the minivan he and his wife purchased to carry the band’s equipment. He buckled his son into a car seat, slid the door closed and drove away in a cloud of blue smoke shouting, "Long Life Anarchy!" Of course, they both wore their seat belts. Turner makes it a point to always buckle up pointing out that your average Cloverdale citizen is clueless to road safety.