Purple Passages: A Dragon with a Gift, April 2014

LILACS

LILACS

April is the cruellest month, breeding

Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing

Memory and desire, stirring

Dull roots and spring rain.

T. S. Eliot The Waste-Land

 

When Lilacs last in the dooryard bloom’d

And the great star early droop’d in the western sky in the night,

I mourn’d, and yet shall mourn with every-returning spring.

Ever-returning spring, trinity sure to me you bring,

Lilac blooming perennial and drooping star in the west,

And thought of him I love.

 

Walt Whitman, elegy commemorating the death of Lincoln, 1865

 

EASTER

Easter is very important to me, it’s a second chance.  ―  Reba McEntire

Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.    ― Pope John Paul II

 

LAUGHTER

Laughter is the shock absorber that eases the blows of life.    (Unknown)

Laughter is a tranquilizer with no side effects.  ―  Arnold H. Glasgow

 

WORK

Nothing is really work unless you would rather be doing something else. ―  J. M. Barrie

When you can’t figure out what to do, it’s time for a nap.    ― Mason Cooley

 

CHALLENGE

Challenge is a dragon with a gift in its mouth. Dragon and Gift_final_shade+color_crop_5x5_300

Tame the dragon and the gift is yours.

Noela Evans, on persevering through problems, endurance

Shakespeare says it another way, but with a toad:  Sweet are the uses of adversity which, like the toad, ugly and venomous, wears yet a precious jewel in his head. 

READING

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are. ― Mason Cooley

One rainy Sunday when I was in the third grade, I picked up a book to look at the pictures and discovered that even though I did not want to, I was reading. I have been a reader ever since.   ― Beverly Cleary

Marian Reading_14mos._2x4_300 THE  FUTURE

The best thing about the future is it comes one day at a time.  ― Abraham Lincoln

 *   *   *

Do you believe a challenge is a dragon with a gift in its mouth? A story about this that comes to mind . . . ?

What category can you add a quote to? 

What other topics would you like to see in this monthly feature, Purple Passages?

Coming next: Mennonite Flashback III: Rabbits and Rings

A Scrapbook: Bonnets, Bandannas, and Sex Ed

Bonnets

“Tie your head shut!” – An oft-heard admonition from my mother, my Aunt Ruthie, and Grandma Longenecker. Translation: If you tie your head shut, you won’t get sick with colds, sinus trouble, what not. And so our heads are tied shut with bonnets and bandannas and then adorned with the Mennonite prayer veiling. In other words, there is usually something besides my hair on top of my head or around my ears from babyhood on up.

My photo at 10 months old features a machine-sewn miniature version of a bonnet that I remember my Grandma wearing in the garden.

Marian_Dad_10 mos_150

On billboards we see the little blond girl advertising a fake way to get sun-tanned. “Don’t be a paleface,” she says.  But we don’t need to buy Coppertone lotion to make our skins dark. We get our tans the honest way. Our skin turns brown naturally in the summer playing outside or working in the garden or tomato patch. To tell the truth, we depend on the sun-bonnet or the grace of God to not scorch our tough Swiss skins.

Bundled up in snowsuit
Bundled up in snowsuit
Another hat - on tricycle
Another hat – on tricycle

More Bonnets & Bandannas @ Work

Like Mildred Armstrong Kalish in her must-read memoir Little Heathens depicting rural life in Iowa during the Depression, we in Pennsylvania Dutch land are not offended or shocked by four-letter words that are part of our daily life either: cook, bake, wash, iron, dust, pick tomatoes, sweet corn, beans, or sweet potatoes.

Sisters and I throwing wood for furnace
Sisters and I throwing wood for furnace
Cousin Janet and I say, "Rabbit for dinner!"
Cousin Janet and I say, “Rabbit for dinner!”
Aunt Ruthie with scarf and I hoeing in tomato field
Aunt Ruthie with scarf and I hoeing in tomato field

WIth skirts and scarves we plant, hoe, and pick tomatoes in Bainbridge, PA. For details, see Tomato Girl, parts I and II.

Proudly advertising DeKalb corn, no bonnet or bandanna
Proudly advertising DeKalb corn, no bonnet or bandanna

School and Sex Ed

Surrounded by girls with curls visiting the Elizabethtown Library, I’m the one to the left with a floral bandanna, keeping my head tied shut, just like Mother expected.

My class at Elizabethtown Library
My class at Elizabethtown Library

With all its books, this library is an impressive step up from the small bookcase at Rheems Elementary School. Yes, there is a library at Bossler Mennonite Church too, which is where I begin to get my sex education. In a blue and white book with a glossy, stiff cover, I discover that when a mommy and daddy “got very close” a baby was created. “Now what does “get very close” mean?” I wonder. Later I un-earth a book entitled Sane Sex Life with a red, black and white dust cover in my parents’ bedroom. Hidden in their wardrobe among sweaters, long-johns, and mothballs, this book adds a new dimension to my literary diet of Lippincott textbooks, church catechism, and storybooks. Whenever I think my mother won’t hear the sound of the wardrobe door open, I sneak a look at its realistic drawings (gasp!) and mind-boggling explanations, astonished that such a books exists.

Yes, I keep these strange revelations under my hat, bandanna, prayer veiling–whatever I am wearing on my head.

And Play

Picnicking with plain friends
Picnicking with plain friends

Prayer coverings take no vacations. Because a woman is apt to pray any time or any place, the Church (Lancaster Mennonite Conference) ordains that we stay veiled morning, noon, and night.

What special outfits do you remember from your childhood or teen-age years?

Did they make you feel attractive? Out of place?