Monday, 2 July 2007

Your past is in the Stars: Fun Monday 23





Today's Fun Monday is being hosted by Jenni at Prairie Air . Here is how she describes the task:

Your mission, should you choose to accept it:
Share one or more of your favorite summertime memories with us. It can be a childhood memory or more recent. The memory can be a vague conglomeration of how you spent summers past (catching fireflies, playing outside till dark, watermelon seed wars) or it can be a detailed memory of a specific event. You may write a poem or short story or just tell it like it was. The main idea is to communicate the essence of summer and what symbolizes the season in words and/or pictures.

Growing up in a tropical zone, means not being as aware of the seasons as people from the Northern climes. We don't have that overwhelming sense of joy and relief when the first flowers begin to open, because ours bloom all year and about all that we notice in terms of Summer is that it gets a bit hotter and sticky.


One of my most poignant Summer memories however is of time I spent with my father. My father was a stern man, second generation from the old country (in this case Czechoslovakia). He had family values that are no longer in vogue today, pater familias head of the family never to be questioned or contradicted values, not talking during the national TV news (which happened to coincide with dinner time) values and not being bothered when he had just gotten home from work (before dinner) or when he was in his study (which was most of the time after dinner) values.

In addition, he could be exceedingly tender and inspiring, if you could catch him at just the right time. The problem was of course that he was not to be bothered before dinner, during dinner or after dinner.

Unfortunately, (but also fortunately as it would turn out) my father was a terrible worrier and insomniac. He slept less than four hours every night and would work or read until the early hours of the morning. This meant that the best time to find entree to his time was very late in the night.

I suffered myself from frequent nightmares as a child. (In retrospect this makes sense for the daughter of a worrier, but I wondered for years why I was such a fearful thing.) Frequently when I would get up in the middle of the night because I needed to visit the bathroom or because I had just felt the brush of a vampire wing across my cheek, I would find him in the sitting room reading intently. (I now know he was escaping form his demons, but at the time it just seemed this must be the way that Fathers were.)

After a nightmare I would crawl into his lap sobbing and we would usually take a long walk outside, talking and looking at the stars. My memories of Summer relate to the stars, for this is one thing that clearly marked the seasons in our tropical world. Walking in the early Summer night would lead us out under the domain of Scorpio, the ancient Greek constellation of the Scorpion. Ever since the days of camping in Arkansas, I had been terrified of scorpions and thus would take our walks with a hang-dog neck being afraid to look overhead and see that menacing Scorpio reigning supreme. I believe part of my fear is my father's fault as I am not sure he didn't tease me about this fear in the hopes that I would grow resentful and rebel against such silliness, but even today during Summer nights I walk under Scorpio with a residual nervousness and unease.



If I awoke later in the night or early morning our walks would be free of the dreaded arachnid. Instead we would see Orion, the hunter with club raised, whom the Greeks knew chased the deadly scorpion across the sky. Those walks were some of the best experiences of my life. When we talked, we were two friends exchanging fears and philosophies. We spoke of death, of justice, of the petty incidents of the day. Joined by a desire to search out the answers of the universe we would seek the great arc, discuss the possibility of life on other planets or decide on the most morally just actions based on Kant and most importantly we passed that dreaded hour of the wolf banishing our unspoken fears like two hikers taking refuge from the outside storm.



My father died many years ago now, but every late evening when I walk the dog and cringe a bit as I see that Scorpion reigning rampant in the sky, I am with him. Thanks to my father, I know that in just a few hours, Scorpio's star will set and the fatherly hunter will rise and make the night safe for all of us who suffer fears of the dark and unknowable night.

30 comments:

min said...

Daddy took walks with you? He usually just got me a cup of water and sent me back to bed.

nikki said...

What a wonderful summer memory. Thank you for sharing.

The Artist formerly Known as Purpleworms (!) said...

Yeah, When we lived in Florida and I was old enough to understand German philosphy! Sometimes I got the glass of water instead. It depended on what time it was and how upset one or the other of us was, I guess.

JennieBoo said...

What a sweet Daddy! And how informative! I'm like min, only a glass of water.....

Thanks for sharing!

Happy FunMonday!

Karmyn R said...

I think this is a great summer memory!!! (not only for summer - but anytime, really).

(and Orion has always been my favorite constellation)

swamp witch said...

What a wonderful way to remember. Just look at the summer sky and your summers are there.
Min is your sister? Did I know that?

Beccy said...

How beautifully written Wendy and what a strong memory.

Min makes me laugh as she reminds me of myself and my sister!

The Artist formerly Known as Purpleworms (!) said...

Nikki, You are welcome!

Jennie Boo! As Beccy points out Mindy and I are sisters -s o my Dad and hers were the same!

Karmyn - Thank goodness for Orion or I wouldn't have made it through many a night! Even when I did not see him rise - I knew he was coming!

Swampy - Can't say what a wise witch knows!

Beccy - I think we have noticedthis resemblance before!

swamp witch said...

Wise?
Thank you !

The Artist formerly Known as Purpleworms (!) said...

Swampy, Wise and with great taste I might add! I'm still enjoying the pictures of your glass filled windows!

mjd said...

This is a very touching memory of your father, who talked about the stars and Kant morality. Now, when I cannot sleep, I will look for Orion and remember your story.

The Artist formerly Known as Purpleworms (!) said...

Hi, mjd, Don't look now unless you get up early in the morning, because Scorpio is in full glory and the nights are short!

Amy W said...

I agree, what a wonderful story about your father and you...

neroli said...

Dear One, what an Artist you are!
Thank you for the loveliness and the generousity of your work.
(raising tea cup to you)

Kaytabug said...

Awesome, lovely, heart-string-tugging post! I absolutely love the star filled summer sky. You are blessed to have had someone to show you and name the constellations.
I really enjoyed your post, thanks for sharing!
Oh, and thank you for giving me a reason to stay where I can have that "overwhelming sense of joy and relief when the first flowers begin to open.." I was wanting to live where its almost summer year round but I would miss that too much, and maybe just maybe Summer wouldnt be as special... HA!

The Artist formerly Known as Purpleworms (!) said...

Amy, Thank you so much.

Neroli, I consider that jigh praise coming from you since you write so beautifully!

Katyabug - Hope you didn't need an excuse for appreciating the Upper Midwest! (But Summer year round is pretty nice, I have to admit!!)

Tiggerlane said...

What a sweet memory. So glad you can look back and recognize that your father was human - and can forgive and understand.

Tiger Lamb Girl said...

That's a lovely recollection of your bond with your father, Purp;).

This reminds me how my dad used to hold my hair back off my face when I had tummy flu. Ahhh..so many memories flooding in from reading everyone's blogs today!

Tiger Lamb Girl said...

I read quite a bit of Kant while studying homeopathy (to understand the underpinning philosophy we also studied a few others)....this is spurring my on to read some more;).

willowtree said...

I'm glad someone has pointed out that not everyone experiences a dramatic change in seasons (I meant to but I forgot).

Boy, you'd love it here, there is absolutely no light pollution, and as a result, the night sky is spectacular.

gawilli said...

Wonderful, wonderful! My Willi is a lover of the stars also. He can see things in the stars that are a struggle for me.

Your writing beckoned me on and the ending was very satisfying. Great read!

wolfbaby said...

Those are sweet memories to have of your dad.

Jenni said...

That was beautiful! Thank you for sharing your memories of your father today.

As I was writing my post, I kept thinking about my dad. There is no way to call up summer and childhood memories without thinking of him. I treasure the memories, but I miss him so much.

Your post made me cry, but it was a good cry.

Pamela said...

my imagination as a child could never grasp the constellations or even the man in the moon.

I could see bunnys and turtles in clouds, tho.

What an interesting, albeit troubled soul, your dad was.

Mine was troubled, too. Even tho I was 24 when he passed, I wasn't truly grown up enough to understand

The Artist formerly Known as Purpleworms (!) said...

Kaytabug - sorry i misspelled your name - I'm fairly dyslexic.

TL - I don't begrudge my father his old country ways - in many ways that made him a great father, but I had other difficulties with him, so you are right - and forgiving is hard.

TLG - Lovely memory of your father - as for Kant is wondefully uforgiving and maddening - an interesting but difficult "read".

Willowtree - I lived in WA for 6 months and it was marvelous. I never did figure out which was the Southern Cross though.

The Artist formerly Known as Purpleworms (!) said...

Gawilli - Thanks - stars are marvelous entities and I can not thank you enough wfor the kind owrds about the writing!

Wolfbaby - Thank you so much

Jenni - I'm glad it was in a good way - sometimes I still get teary about him and it has been more than 20 years since he died.

Pamela My husband claimed to never see the man in the moon either - although two days ago he suddenly asked if it was like a balloon face and he got it! I guess some brains develop later than others. Never give up hope! Dads are interesting creatures!

captain corky said...

I enjoyed your post. It's always nice to remember the good things that my fahter did for me when I was a kid.

Tiger Lamb Girl said...

lol, I remember too well reading Kant. I defo don't read him when I'm tired. I need all cylinders firing if you know what i mean;).

And hey....the three objects post is up;).

Robinella said...

Great post, writing and memories. I certainly would have taken the walks with my dad had he been around. Too bad for both of us, I guess. Thanks for sharing.

my4kids said...

My dad was pretty strict like that growing up but it was more because he was in the military. Although like yours I could find him late at night and we had our talks. Great post...