Springtime at the Speedway

speedway

Photo via MorgueFile.

by Erin Abernethy

 

Welcome to “Race Week,” y’all!

Bring us your hicks, your drunks,

your gas-guzzling RVs,

your big-ass campers and overgrown pup-tents,

jockeying to park in a nearby churchyard.

That’ll be $20, son.

Bless y’all. Jesus loves ya.

 

Bring us all your bad habits –

we don’t have enough of our own –

all your trash and your spit,

your sweaty sun-stink,

your potbellied, yellow-toothed,

smoke-sucking men;

your brassy blonde women

overflowing their shorts,

your children more monstrous

than all of your trucks.

 

Come and jam up the traffic

bring it all to a standstill

while cousins with roadside stands

make a few bucks

from selling you tickets and

overpriced firewood,

t-shirts and caps sporting

Earnhardt and Petty;

pocket the cash and

don’t tell the tax-man.

That’s the American Way

around here.

 

Never mind all the locals,

so lucky to live here with all this

Excitement. Oh yes,

it’s a great big adventure,

trying to get out to work

when the cops fix the stop-lights

to let trailers through.

Watch the race car parade:

look, it’s Bobby!

Is that Greg’s Ford?

We may die of amazement,

so impressed by these strangers

you call by first names.

 

Like a biblical plague,

this infestation, this

visitation of fools;

smell the diesel, the smoke,

as the cars run in circles,

the dinosaur roar

scaring dogs miles away.

How much gas do you think

will be wasted this weekend?

This is what our troops fought for:

more American horsepower!

 

So welcome to Race Week, y’all!

Get to the grandstand,

grab a beer and sit back.

If you pay close attention,

some driver might wreck;

you could be there, ringside,

see some cars crash and burn!

Holy crap!

Oh, sweet Jesus!

It’s the American Way!

Waving flags,

making noise,

blood and brains on the track.

Welcome to Race Week.

 

© Copyright 2015 by Erin Abernethy.

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The Rites of Spring

Spring Catkins by PL Miller

Photo: “Spring Catkins” by P.L. Miller

Compiled by Erin Abernethy & Hunter MacKenzie

The Spring Equinox is also called the Vernal Equinox. The word “vernal” comes from the Latin word “verno” which means “to burgeon, break into bloom” or “to be young.” Accordingly, spring traditions and rituals have historically emphasized fertility, cleansing, renewal and regeneration; many revolve around the “dying god” legends. The following are some of the more interesting ones we have found in our research.

In some of the villages of Germany, it was the custom for young people to gather and make a straw man. This was then carried out into the open fields; during the procession, they would sing a song about carrying Death away. Upon reaching the chosen spot, they would dance in a circle around the straw man, then tear it to pieces with much shouting. When torn apart, the straw man was then burned in a bonfire as the young people danced around it. After this, the young people would then return to the village and go from house to house begging for eggs, explaining that they had just carried Death away from the village to make way for Spring.

(Sort of a mixing of the modern traditions of Easter eggs and Halloween trick-or-treating.)

The ancient Romans celebrated the spring equinox on the 25th of March rather than on the 21st as is customary now. Part of their celebration centered around the resurrection of Attis, a god of vegetation who was considered to be dead or sleeping during the winter. Interestingly, when Christianity as a religion was still in its early stages, the widespread belief was that Christ’s crucifixion had been on the 25th of March, and accordingly, Easter was initially celebrated on this date.

March 25 was also at one time considered to be the date upon which the world was created.

(One wonders what was going on from January 1st through March 24th of that year… planning, perhaps? Waiting for project approval? Supplies on backorder?)

The word “Easter” comes from Eostre, the name of an Old German dawn goddess.

April Fools’ Day has its roots in the tradition of the Norse god Loki, a notorious trickster. The trickster archetype is not exclusive to Norse culture and mythology, of course. Many societies have had specific allotted times when it was permissible to engage in behaviors that were usually frowned upon.

In certain areas of France, bonfires are lit on the first Sunday of Lent. When the fires have died down, the young people take turns and compete in jumping over the embers; those who can do this without getting their clothes singed are supposed to be married within the year.

(Perhaps this is the origin of that phrase “better to marry than to burn.” Or perhaps not.)

Among some of the early tribes in China, an annual celebration was held to destroy all the evils of the past twelve months. It was carried out by burying a large clay vessel filled with gunpowder, stones, bits of iron, and so on; a match was set to a trail of gunpowder and the clay pot was blown up. Doing so was supposed to disperse all the ills of the previous year.

(Don’t try this one at home without safety glasses.)

Human sacrifice was reportedly not uncommon among the Aztecs of ancient Mexico, but it was also an annual spring event occurring around the last week of April. For this purpose, a person was chosen to symbolize a god for an entire year; he was treated as the embodiment of the god for that year, receiving all due attention and reverence. At the time of the festival, he was then killed and eaten by the people.

Parilia was a Roman festival held in April to honor the deity Pales. It included decorating sheepfolds with green branches, offering milk and cakes to the divinity, and driving farm animals through the smoke of fires in the belief that this would protect them from illness during the coming year.

(Smoke inhalation was evidently of no concern.)

April 24th is a traditional night of divination in regard to romance. A young woman who wished to see a vision of a future lover was supposed to fast from sunset, making a barley cake during the night. If she left her door open, her future lover was supposed to come inside for the cake. Floralia was a Roman festival to honor Flora, goddess of flowers and youth. Beginning on April 28th, it was known for its encouragement of sexual license. Medallions depicting various sexual acts were handed out, and seeds were thrown into the crowds as a symbol of fertility. In many places this time began the May festivals which featured the phallic Maypole and other fertility symbols; the traditions corresponded closely to the Roman Saturnalia (in December) and still survive in some form in many parts of Europe.

(Today we just have the annual Spring Break beer bashes on the beaches.)

© Copyright 1999 by Erin Abernethy & Hunter MacKenzie. Republished 2013, 2014, 2015.

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This Week at Gatewood: April 26-May 2, 2015

reading

Photo via MorgueFile.

by K.C. Collins

Here’s your weekend wrap-up for the week of April 26-May 2:

Monday:Emerald,” oil painting by Zengael

Tuesday:7 To-Don’ts for Maintenance Dude’s Next Visit,” humor by Erin Abernethy

Wednesday:Convert Not,” by Hunter MacKenzie

Friday:Suffering and Meaning,” photography by P.L. Miller and quote from Viktor Frankl

Remember, our Friday photo can be downloaded for free as a meditation card for your phone, tablet or computer. Share, print, ponder… enjoy!

Here’s my personal favorite posted by our Special Assistant Dr Nicholas this week:

monday goose

As always, we invite you to follow @docnicholas on Twitter to be updated on our daily posts.

That’s it for the Gatewood Weekend Wrap-Up for the week of April 26-May 2. Have a great week!

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This Week at Gatewood: April 19-April 25, 2015

Spring Greens 2 by P.L. Miller

Photo © 2015 by P.L. Miller. Used by permission of the artist.

by Frasier MacKenzie

Hello all! We’ve had quite an interesting week here – in the Chinese proverb sense of “interesting”! We certainly celebrated Earth Day, Dr. Nicholas’ birthday, and Arbor Day in style.

There have been high winds for this area, with several days of warnings from the National Weather Service. One day earlier in the week, this resulted in the dish blowing off the roof of Gatewood HQ (depriving us of Internet service for a day and a half). Not a big deal – many other folks have problems far worse than that every day. Service was restored the next afternoon by a very friendly and efficient technician. Hats off to – well, I was told I’m not allowed to disclose the name of the company or the technician; I imagine it’s probably against some rule for a cable or satellite technician to provide excellent service. Still, it happens occasionally, and we certainly appreciated it!

Yesterday a neighbor who chose to disregard the wind warnings burned some brush in his field, and the flames got out of control. A chunk of burning stuff blew over our parking area and landed on a pallet of mulch bags, starting a small fire. Fortunately, the fire department was already on the way by the time Mazie started barking about the flames out back, so the neighbor’s fire was contained before it spread any further. Rob’s handy kitchen fire extinguisher took care of our fire here. The neighbor was cited for burning without a permit and given a stern talking-to by the fire chief, though I doubt he’ll have to pay a fine.

Here are our features for the week of April 19-25:

Monday:Full Moon Over Earth,” photography by NASA

Tuesday:Baby Buffalo,” poetry by Geoff Hauser

Wednesday:12 Things I’ve Learned in 12 Years of Being a Cat,” by Dr. Nicholas

Friday:What is Life?,” photography by P.L. Miller and quote from Crowfoot

Remember, our Friday photo can be downloaded for free as a meditation card for your phone, tablet or computer. Share, print, ponder… enjoy!

Here are some favorite memes posted by our Special Assistant Dr Nicholas this week:

If you liked these, you’ll want to follow @docnicholas on Twitter for silliness, cat photos, tidbits about writing, and of course, daily updates on Journal posts.

That’s it for the Gatewood Weekend Wrap-Up for April 19-25. Enjoy the weekend, and try not to set the world on fire. Visit us again soon, won’t you?

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This Week at Gatewood: April 12-18, 2015

roadway

by Rob Colfax

Hello! I hope you’ve all had a great week wherever you are. We’re in the midst of NASCAR madness here this weekend, as you might have gathered from the Tuesday feature, so most of us are managing this by stocking up, staying home, and waiting it out ’til Monday. I hope it’s quieter where you are.

Here are our features for the week of April 12-18:

Monday:Fly With Me,” a gorgeous painting by an artist we’ve featured before, Delawer-Omar

Tuesday:Springtime at the Speedway,” some very humorous and timely poetry by Erin Abernethy that makes it almost like being right there in the thick of it, only you won’t smell like smoke afterward.

Wednesday:Like Me,” a second helping of humor for the week (I thought we needed a double dose!). This short piece by Johanna Rigby takes a poke or two at social networking. We hope you like it. 😉

Friday:Becoming,” our weekly meditation card featuring photography by P.L. Miller with a quote by Anaïs Nin. As a reminder, this can be downloaded for free as a meditation card, or you can use it as wallpaper for your phone or tablet. I like to download the new one each week so I have a different wallpaper to ponder every few days.

Our Special Assistant Dr Nicholas was apparently too busy playing hashtag games to make new memes this week. You can catch some of his efforts (and join in, if you like) on Twitter at #piglit and #geographyanauthor. Don’t forget to follow his Twitter feed to be updated whenever a new feature is posted here.

That’s it for this week at Gatewood. Enjoy your weekend, and visit us again soon!

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To Be Yourself

To Be Yourself

From:: P.L. Miller’s Photoblog

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