Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mothers, Mist, Solace, Hydrangea

I woke this morning to mist and the alarm, at six, and sent my husband off to his volleyball tournament (spring club season, middle school age girls). I woke again, at seven, to mist and the howling of a dog, and it was time to get up and see the white-misted world on this Mother's Day.

Happy Mother's Day, if you are one, a fine thing to be. Many thanks to our mothers--we all technically had one--and I feel so glad and lucky to have a wonderful mother, still alive. My mother and I have been asked to read in church this morning the Mother's Day Proclamation by Julia Ward Howe, abolitionist, suffragist, poet, and author of the lyrics to "Battle Hymn of the Republic." The proclamation is a call to women of the world to arise and stand against war, for mothers to meet and choose not to train their sons for war. Alas!

The Proclamation is from 1870, and this country had just been through the Civil War, with Julia's "Battle Hymn" (1861) a popular song among the Union soldiers, says Wikipedia. I am impressed by the apparent contradictions here, the ultimate pacifist (post-war) having written a "battle" song.

Now here are two connections:

1) I met D. J. Lachance and his wife Lucile at the Solace in So Many Words release reading this weekend. He listened to her when she advised that he write in order "to reunite with his family after returning from the Gulf War," as it says in his Solace bio. Many soldiers do not wish to speak of their war experience, but Dave (D. J.) has found a way to transform it to express it. Interestingly his piece, "Nagasaki Shadows" (referencing another war), is part of a stage piece, Voices From the Cafe, to be performed in Iran. Here again, war and peace, hand in hand.

2) Ellen Wade Beals, editor of Solace in So Many Words, chose an anthology as her way to spread comfort in the world after 9/11 because she had contributed to a previous anthology of pieces by women who had lost their mothers when they were young, Kiss Me Goodnight.  As she said in her introduction to the book and in her opening remarks at the reading, she wanted this new anthology to include men's as well as women's voices and to address all kinds of needs for solace. And that's indeed what the book does!

You can find the book at Amazon and independent bookstores, including Women and Children First bookstore in Chicago, site of this recent release reading, and at Barbara's Books on Halsted, near University of Illinois, site of the next release reading, Thursday, May 12, at 7 p.m.*  Here is the Events page for the book, and here is the home page. Ellen is eager for submissions of questions and comments on the book, or for your own slice of solace; go here for that!

*And Seana, perhaps you would be interested in hosting a West Coast reading, as contributors include Ellen Bass!  [And I just realized--so I am back to edit in this link--that Seana has also written of Howe in her post on Mother's Day, including the text of the proclamation.  Go here to see that!]

As I approached the bookstore on Clark Street, some gigantic gorgeous hydrangea plants were emerging from a car, hiding the humans behind them. It flashed on me that perhaps these were decorations for the reception after the reading, and indeed they were. What I couldn't have guessed was that I would get to take one home!

And that it would fit in the jam-packed car of my son's belongings after he moved out of his dorm at UIC. In fact, I didn't fit in the car after that, and was left on the street to be scooped up later after he was dropped at a friend's place. He had a fun day at the Shedd and came home on the train. We had a fun day unpacking his stuff and buying a few more flowers at the second annual Kiwanis Mother's Day flower fundraiser, already in the ground or pots: white impatiens, blue lobelia, bright yellow marigold, variegated vinca and dahlia.  And on the patio sits the beautiful lavender blue hydrangea.


Kathleen said...

And magenta pinks for the northwest corner near the purple smokebush.

Etta Worthington said...

Happy Mother's Day to you, Kathleen.

Kathleen said...

And to you, Etta!

Kim said...

I love hydrangeas, too. Pink or blue. I have one growing by my deck. This is it's third year so I expect it to be awesome! And I loved the reading you and your mom did this morning. Very powerful.

Kathleen said...

Thanks, Kim. Dinner conversation tonight was about Hiroshima & Nagasaki, war, peace, etc., arising from questions the kids asked. What an amazing and beautiful day.