Steven (unzeugmatic) wrote,

A Fine and Wet Mayday

Mayday has the sort of momentum that yields a successive series of individual moments that don't cohere until a day or two later, if they cohere at all. There are individual dancing moments, and individual social moments, and the strange daze of a mood that comes from getting up at 4am (which can lead to moments of testiness on occasion). There are periodic encounters throughout the day with other people dressed in Morris kit, as if you are alien or magical creatures flitting about this mortal coil. There is tradition-with-a-capital-T oppressiveness and there is tradition with a reassuring sense of glorious ritual.

We really, really REALLY lucked out on the weather, which is a strange thing to say because yesterday was the third very wet rainy day in a row. When I looked out my bedroom window at the 4am alarm to a black view obscured by big raindrops splattered on the window from a sideways blowing wind, I felt despair. It had been pretty wretched when I'd gone to bed a few hours before, but I had hope. But then between 6 and 7:15, when all the teams and their acolytes meet to dance over by the Mississippi, it didn't do much more than mist and it was really pretty warm for May 1. The small rainless band in the middle of the weather system passed over us at precisely the right time. I'd have gotten down on my knees in gratitude, except that the ground was a morass of spongy loam and sloppy mud and I was wearing white.

My team went off to our own quick private breakfast because we needed to regroup to dance almost immediately at the school attended by the young twin boys of team member Bob. By then it was raining again, lightly at first and then harder. The three first grade classes came out to watch us, and their own classmates, dance a bit. Naturally, the rain didn't seem to bother the kids themselves at all. Then we went to another school, Anna Bean's school, which had decided we weren't going to dance after all because it was raining too hard for the kids to come outside. But then we danced anyway, out in a very wet play area, to be watched from inside. Some of the teachers brought their charges out in the rain to watch us; as I say, this is something that bothers the grownups more than the children. It was pretty warm, after all, for a wet windy day.

We all had various days and then regrouped downtown in the evening when each team danced their traditional route and met up at the IDS tower. There had been a major flareup of rain about 5pm, but, once again, this had ended by our actual dancing time. The aggregate of teams I was with danced Abram's Circle around the new statue of Mary Tyler Moore on the Nicollet Mall, which was funny in a creepy way as it makes the woman into something of a goddess. We danced downtown 12 hours after dancing in the morning, between 6 and 7:15 (pretty much). It's a nice set of ritual bookends. Then we went off to the Town Hall Brewpub and ate ravenously and danced a little and sang a tad (although they didn't let us sing at first because the cooks couldn't hear each other when we did so).

Standing out in my memory amidst all of this is Sunday night, Mayday eve, when a good percentage of my team went to Douglas's to have some snacks and wait until it was time to make a surprise phone call to team member Russ who (along with his wife Lisa) is currently serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Tanzania. We called him about 5:30 am his time, to wish him happy May. We were under the impression he gets up soon after that anyway, to get milk from his neighbor's cow. Turns out the cow isn't giving milk at the moment and May 1 was a holiday for him so this was a bit earlier than he might have preferred, but at least we caught him home and we couldn't really stay up much later ourselves (it was past 10pm when we rang off). Bob played Winster Processional on the melodeon and we all said sentimental things and sang Hal-an-Toe with a special verse:

What happened to the Grandgeorges
Who went so far away-O
We've traced them down to Africa
To wish them happy May-O...

There was more random chatter and dance talk and tunes and a very, very disoriented Russ. (He said Lisa was awake and smiling during all this.) It wasn't just that he was roused from deep sleep, but that he was roused into complete cultural shock. His life in Africa and his concerns and pretty much everything about his every waking moment are so separate from his world among his Morris team that one or the other situation must be a dream. It was cool.

At the end of mayday Bob W. leads us in Dave Webber's wondrous song:

Hail, hail, the first of May-o
For it is the first summer's day-o
Cast your cares and fears away
Drink to the old 'oss on the first of May.
  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.