Saturday, November 7, 2015

November 7: Royally Old, Holiday Decorations, Robert Hass, "Fall," Confessions of Saint Marty

They decorated the tree with sets of blue, red, yellow, and green lights that resembled medicine droppers or dragonflies, bubble undulating through their shifting liquid centers; the kid of lights whose wires often overheated and started many a fire in tenement apartments all over the city.  They put up strings of lights with angel sconces and holly-colored beads.  There were ornaments from the closet, snow-sprayed and clumped with strands of last year's tinsel clinging to them.  Several were holdovers from Ives' Brooklyn childhood, battered, flaking, and chipped, but royally old and precious (along with different pieces of a creche set) and some had come from Annie's home.  And there were the ornaments Ives and Annie bought in antique shops and street markets, and some ceramic putti that they had found in a small shop off La Via di Penitenza, near the Vatican, on a rainy afternoon in Rome, during their trip to Italy years before.

I love this description of the Ives' Christmas tree decorating party, when they invite friends and friends' families to come to their apartment to eat, drink, listen to music, string lights, and hang the royally old decorations.  It reminds me of the November Saturdays in my childhood when we dragged out the Christmas boxes and decked our halls.  Each ornament and figurine holding some memory of bygone holidays.

This weekend, I will be putting up our outside holiday decorations.  It's a lot of work, but it makes me happy.  And it's time spent with my wife and kids.  We laugh and clean, staple up lights, hang bells and balls.  By the end of the time, we're coated in a thin layer of red, green, and gold glitter.  Next weekend, the Christmas tree will go up in our living room.

This morning, snow fell for the first time.  Big, fat, wet flakes.  The world is in-between fall and winter.  It's Thanksgiving weather.  Sunny and warm one minute.  Blustery and cold the next.  Frost on the car in the a.m.  Breath fogging in front of your face in the p.m.  A time of transition, my little part of the world tipping further and further away from the sun.

I give thanks today for Christmas decorations.  For time spent with my family.  For first snow.  For glitter in my hair.  For all the good memories.

Saint Marty has been pretty lucky in his life.


by:  Robert Hass

Amateurs, we gathered mushrooms
near shaggy eucalyptus groves
which smelled of camphor and the fog-soaked earth.
Chanterelles, puffballs, chicken-of-the-woods,
we cooked in wine or butter,
beaten eggs or sour cream,
half-expecting to be
killed by a mistake.  "Intense perspiration,"
you said late at night,
quoting the terrifying field guide
while we lay tangled in our sheets and heavy limbs,
"is the first symptom of attack."

Friends called our aromatic fungi
"liebestoads" and only ate the ones
that we most certainly survived.
Death shook us more than once
those days and floating back
it felt like life.  Earth-wet, slithery,
we drifted toward the names of things.
Spore prints littered our table
like nervous stars.  Rotting caps
gave off a musky smell of loam.

Confessions of Saint Marty

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