You wouldn’t think it was spring, Austin, if you were at home this morning, for we had a great snowstorm yesterday, and things are all white this morning. It sounds funny enough to hear birds singing and sleigh-bells at a time. But it won’t last long, so you needn’t think ’twill be winter at the time when you come home. ~ Emily Dickinson (Letter to William Austin Dickinson, March 24, 1852)
Springtime snowstorms were not uncommon in southern New England a hundred seventy-one years ago. They happened often enough when I was a child, sixty odd years ago. I prepared this post several years ago, hoping that we might get one again and I could use Emily’s words to go along with the weather. But it was not to be and since this is my last spring in New England I decided to post it now, in fond memory of times gone by.
Strike up a measure, sprightly this way And we’ll dance an idle hour away Dance in the garden, dance on the lea To a Morris music light and free
Greenly call the rushes Budding is the willow Spring now is here and all is fair And she rides on the south wind Sweet and warm with May And a wreathe of hawthornes deck her hair
Why not dance when happy songs resound In the trees and hedges all around Say farewell to toil and work a day For the dance will drive all cares away
Tim’s father, Karl Freeman Rodgers, Jr. (1930-1978), was a Morris dancer. Sadly, he died of cancer shortly after Tim & I were married so I never had much of a chance to get to know him or to see him dance, but I think of him every May Day, especially when we manage to drag ourselves out of bed to watch the Westerly Morris Men dance at dawn on the campus of Connecticut College.
Karl Rogers was elected Squire at the 1972 Ale. Karl had many talents: racer, musician, singer, teacher, and he was among the best at all of these. In his year as Squire, he founded the PMM Newsletter, and pushed hard for the establishment of a PMM-funded scholarship to Pinewoods Camp for prospective Morris dancers. ~ Pinewoods Morris Men
From the first, then, the Newsletter was intended not only to report PMM activities, but also to exchange views and ideas among all Morris dancers. Karl’s success in establishing the format led directly to the creation of the American Morris Newsletter less than five years later. ~ Pinewoods Morris Men
In November (1978), we lost a valued friend and founding member when Karl Rodgers died on Thanksgiving Day, after a long battle with cancer. In his year as Squire, he started the Newsletter, and introduced the idea of a Pinewoods Scholarship. The Newsletter flourished, and spun off the American Morris Newsletter; at the time Karl died, Fred Breunig was well on the way to establishing AMN as the premier forum for Morris matters in this country. The scholarship had been established in 1975; it was only fitting that it be renamed in Karl’s memory. ~ Pinewoods Morris Men
I am born on May Morning – by sticks, bells, and ribbons I am the sap – in the dark root I am the dancer – with his six fools ~ William Anderson (The Green Man)
Our governor has asked all the churches in our state to ring their bells twenty-six times this coming Friday morning, in memory of twenty innocent children and six brave women who were gunned down in their elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut four days ago, last Friday.
As the chilling details of this horrific story have been unfolding we have been thinking of little else. We are numb, still stunned, deeply saddened. Our hearts ache for the first responders and for the parents, families and friends who lost a precious loved one so suddenly and so inexplicably.
As the light begins to return on the winter solstice, as the bells are ringing, as prayers, sympathy and blessings continue to be offered, may the light of comfort and healing shine a little brighter and a little longer in the days to follow.
It may be that when we no longer know what to do we have come to our real work and that when we no longer know which way to go we have begun our real journey. ~ Wendell Berry (Standing by Words: Essays)