• Tag Archives Zikes
  • Looking Backwards

    Lughnasa                                                                        Full Honey Extraction Moon

    Over the last week plus I’ve watched the Starz Network version of the King Arthur legends, Camelot.  I get it streaming from Netflix.  Each time I watch this program I get a shot of creative juices, similar to the ones I got when I first read the Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley.  Those didn’t inspire me to write about the King Arthur material, an area that gets reworked a lot, but it did cause me to think about my own heritage, my ethnic heritage and what might be there as a resource for writing.

    At the time I chose to emphasize the Celtic aspects of my bloodline, Welsh in the instance of the Ellis line and Irish through the Correll’s, my father’s father’s mother’s family.  The Celts have a rich pool of legends, religious ideas and quasi-historical accounts.  Most have heard at least something about druids and faeries, both part of the Celtic past.  There are, too, holy wells, a Celtic pantheon and the series of holidays known as the Great Wheel which I celebrate.

    I’ve not done much with the German side of my heritage though it is, arguably, more substantial since the Zikes and the Spitlers, my mother’s and father’s mother’s families respectively are both German.  The Keatons, my mother’s father’s family, we think have an English connection though it’s proven difficult to track down.

    The legendary and religious aspects of the ancient Celts and Germans are what interest me, the more recent history not so much and by recent I mean from the Renaissance forward.

    Roman and Greek mythology and legend has also fascinated me since I was young and my Aunt Barbara gave me a copy of Bullfinch’s Mythology.  Through out my life at various points I’ve read such works as the Iliad, the Odyssey, Hesiod’s Theogony, Ovid’s Metamorphosis, amazed at the richness of these stories.

    As you know, if you read this blog with any regularity, that lead me to learn Latin, which I am doing, so I could translate Ovid’s great work, the Metamorphoses, for myself.  The distance between a translated text and its English version has interested me especially since seminary.  In seminary I studied both the Old and New Testaments extensively, learning in the process many techniques for analyzing ancient texts.  It was my favorite part of the seminary curriculum.

    When I observed yesterday to Greg, my Latin tutor, that the commentaries I’d found for the Metamorphose lacked a lot compared to commentaries for the Biblical material, he challenged me.  “Well,” he said, “You could write a commentary to it.”  I might just be able to do that.

    When I mentioned it to Kate, she said, “Oh, and finish your novels, too?”  And she’s right of course.  I have more than one creative iron in the fire, plus other matters related to art and the environment.

    Even so, the idea intrigues me.  A lot.  Now all I have to do is get very facile at translating.


  • Hoosier Bodhisattvas

    79  bar steady 29.85 5mph NNW dew-point  67  sunrise 6:02 sunset 8:35  Lughnasa

    Waxing Crescent of the Corn Moon

    “What happens to a dream deferred? / Does it dry up / like a raisin in the sun?” – Langston Hughes

    To continue the raisin metaphor the next line might include the fact that raisins are nutritious and can, with adequate moisture, grow plump once again.

    The corn tasseled out last week late and tiny ears of Country Gentlemen have begun to form.  The corn stalks soar an elegant, but seemingly fragile 7 to 8 feet above the garden bed.  Though there are only three rows and the rows extend only 8 feet or so in length, still it calls up all those corn fields of my youth, green jungles that flashed by as we drove on   crushed gravel roads, spreading a fine chalky dust behind us.  There was, in that time, a union between the maturity of the corn and our maturity, both green, filled with promise, but not yet ready for the harvest.  Corn, of course, has a shorter life span than most teenagers, but some of my Alexandria classmates were dead soon after our senior year, their maturation hastened by the fertilizer of war.

    Though those afternoons and nights are long ago, 43 years at least, the marriage between my faith and the earth finds its true roots there.  The farms around home and the 4-H fair in late July gave the life of the land a prominence even to those of us who lived in town.  The sheds at the fair had rows of corn, tomatoes, beans, beets and cucumbers among many others, set out for the judges to assess.  Not the judgments, but the pride and the reality of these fruits imprinted on me those Madison County fields and the seasons through which they passed.

    The family farm outside Morristown, which I visited and on which I stayed from time to time as a boy, had the same effect.  The corn shed with its slanted, open sides filled with the hard yellow ears of field corn had a mystery to me.  This shed found late fall and winter made one, the harvest stored for later use.  I loved the cool moisture of the concrete pools that held the milk pails until the milk truck came.  This was like a Celtic holy well, a place where the water burbled up from the ground, plentiful and free.  In the late summer the hay mow would have bale after bale of alfalfa hay, sweet and pleasant.

    Below the hay mow the Holsteins would stand patiently waiting to be milked, their placid ways suggesting a Hoosier Bodhisattva.

    Not far down the road, visible from the hill on which the Keaton family home stands even today, is Hancock Cemetery. There the harvest of generations of Keatons and Zikes lay, row by row, in family groups.  Not all that different from the hay mow in late summer.