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The Camelot Time Of Year

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Carol Bossard

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What lush, thoroughly-enjoyable days we are in. Who wouldn’t like May? Birds are everywhere; scarlet cardinals are flying through purple lilacs and the colors don’t clash at all! Dogwood blossoms make white clouds against the dark spruce trees. In the musical, Camelot, they sing: “Tra la, it’s May! The lusty month of May! The lovely month when ev’ryone goes blissfully a-stray…..”*  I’m not sure about the astray part, but it is surely easy to feel blissful right now. The month’s name came from Maia, the Greek goddess who oversaw the growth of plants. The Romans celebrated “Floralia”, a five-day festival to honor the goddess, Flora – the Roman equivalent.  For some Native Americans, May is the month of the Full Flower Moon.  On the western Christian church’s liturgical calendar, the Easter season is ending with Pentecost, this year, on May 19th.

The cinnamon ferns in my shade garden have unrolled like so many green, leafy scrolls. They are now high enough to hide the path created by the “family” skunk, who has a burrow over that way, and who comes out at night to dig in the lawn for grubs. They are so tall that I can no longer see the bird feeders from my chair in the dining room. This is too bad, because the rose-breasted grosbeaks, cardinals, chickadees, nuthatches and woodpeckers are constant visitors. Baby raccoons will be out of the nest very soon, raiding the cat food. Bluejays have also added cat food to their daily diet; I think it may be a game with them, birds vs. cat! The world is full of life in technicolor, both flora and fauna.

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May is another way to define a new word I found (I like interesting words) ---" Yugen” ---- a profound, mysterious sense of the beauty of the universe that triggers a deep emotional response”.**  This response seemed to be true, world-wide, when so many people watched the eclipse. I feel it when there is the dark tracery of trees and shrubs on a moon-lit lawn or in a quiet, lavender twilight when birds’ soft cheeping morphs day into night  or when everything sparkles at sunrise and the sky is streaked with rose and gold. The beauty of the universe is so vivid in May.  Our pastor gave us an assignment one Sunday for the next Sunday to “find Sabbath” somewhere other than church.  It was a fairly easy assignment for me, but not, apparently, for everyone. To feel the reverence and rest of Sabbath while in the garden, or on the lake shore or under a blooming tree is just natural. I do appreciate stained glass and beautiful organ preludes, but I can find awe and delight in all the wonders of what is around me.  I can find love and delight in being with family and friends. The world surely has gaping wounds and is filled with grief and destruction in many places.  But we can still be bathed in the natural wonders; gifts to those of us living on this earth --- so many beautiful places and ----the opportunity to be with incredible people.

Nature’s gifts lead me to consider human gifts. One of the things we recently tossed around in our Friday AM women’s study was how everyone has intrinsic gifts but are not always realized by those who have them. Helping others recognize their gifts is an affirming part of loving/caring.

Some gifts/ talents are quite visible; those individuals who pour out music, those who dance as lightly as thistledown, those who bring roles to life on stage, who turn oils, acrylics, and water colors into pictures that speak to the heart, those who take a flat piece of fabric and turn it into clothing, quilts or collage, gardeners who “paint” the landscape with flowers and foliage, people who bring life to wood, stone and metal via sculpture, furniture, and carvings those who draw us into stories until we feel we’ve lived there. So many beautiful things come from our gifts/talents.

There are also wonderful, but less evident, gifts. Attentive listening is a precious gift when we need someone’s ear. We don’t necessarily want anyone to “fix” our problems as much as a quiet acceptance, and the feeling that someone hears us; that we are not alone in our feelings. Then there are those individuals who teach in a way that makes learning exciting ---- often helping us with inner growth as well. There is the gift of hospitality; people who always make me feel that they are glad I am with them.  There are the comforting huggers, leaving a trail of affirmation in their wake.  I am not, by upbringing, a very “huggy” person, but I almost always appreciate a hug from someone who thinks I need one. Another rare gift would be in people who notice small things, and express their gratitude or appreciation. We may not work for rewards, but it does the heart good when someone notices.  Going out of one’s way to do something feels better with “Good Job” encouragement along the path. Gifts can be huge visible ones or small quiet ones, but we all have them, and should share them and our appreciation of others’ gifts extravagantly.

We might not consider events as gifts, but celebrations, good times of many kinds, are gifts that give us breaks in our routines. May begins a train of celebratory events. Since we live only one-half hour from Ithaca and Elmira, we are very aware of college graduations. Ithaca College graduation is this weekend, and Cornell’s ceremonies are on Memorial Day weekend. We appreciate these events from afar; we try to avoid driving where there is an influx of parents, along with students packing up to go home.

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This brings me to another subject, which is sort of about wasting gifts. Students tend to leave heaps and piles of perfectly usable stuff behind to be picked up by garbage trucks and deposited in a landfill. This lack of concern about waste bothers me. I think kids should be taught to take good care of their possessions. Feeling “entitled” to everything one wants is not the way to become a responsible adult. It is no gift to a child to be the parents who do not speak to this lack of gratitude and care. There is a happy ending to this messy and profligate exodus. The surrounding community is very aware of this annual “leaving behind,” habitual behavior so the “gleaners” come to the rescue.  Potential waste has become, instead, an exercise in re-using and re-purposing. Wasting gifts of any kind, material items or those things of the spirit just shouldn’t happen.

In Camelot, because it is May, they obviously believed in letting the good times roll. Here, in addition to the graduations, there are oodles of possibilities for going “astray”, or at least getting out and about. There are parks with waterfalls, lakes and rivers, several garden centers, Farmer’s Markets, The Wind Mill, the Finger Lakes Ice Cream Trail and a plethora of yard sales -- all fun things to give us a break from the very daily lives we tend to live. Check your community’s offerings and be a part of them.  Living vibrantly at all ages is using our personal gifts well. And planned recreation for ourselves is as important as planned maintenance for our equipment or functioning factories.

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We all grew up with the idea that working hard is a virtue, which it certainly is, to a point. Working to achieve goals is a good thing, but learning to contemplate and take reasonable rest is an excellent thing too. Moderation has never been a popular concept in the U.S.; our general population, historically and currently, has tended to bounce rapidly from one extreme to another, and we’ve glorified that “work for the night is coming” hymn. Corporations have made people think they must work 24/7 if they wish to be considered loyal, ambitious employees.  There are entities who, even knowing it is illegal, expect their employees work overtime without compensation. And we do it to ourselves; push-push-push until we are exhausted.  If we have been raised to believe how much we accomplish in a day measures our value, then having fun may seem frivolous and self-indulgent. Not so!! Taking breaks is a healthy, as well as a creative way to live.  We need to re-learn and believe that we are enough just as we are. Personal growth and delight in the world around us are valid parts of living, as well as whatever it is that furnishes our bread, butter, and shoes. Perhaps that was our lesson from our unusual Sabbath.

We may not need to go blissfully astray to celebrate the month of May, but maybe we could indulge in just a bit of wandering. Taking time to really see the world blossoming and growing green, actually hear the singing of birds, create a picnic in the park, instead of dinner at home, do something different and fun! Spending just a little time in our own personal Camelot adds elan and value to our lives.  “In short, there’s simply not a more congenial spot for happy ever aftering than here, in Camelot!”*

 

Carol writes from her home in Spencer. She may be reached at: carol42wilde@htva.net.

*Camelot ---Created for the stage in 1960, produced as a movie in 1967.  The story/legend of King Arthur’s court and the brief, wonderful time of Camelot.    Written by Adam Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe.

**definition of “Yugen” found on Pinterest from “Singing Grasses.”

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It’s a great time of year that gives way to hot, humid weather and biting flies all too soon. 

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