what there is to love about a man: rituals

Every year they do it, and have for as many decades as he can remember. Rain or shine, sickness or health. They pick up a cheap bottle of wine and toast the Old Man and curse him and bless him. They drive to the Nation’s Capital to leave homemade Valentines and pictures at the foot of the Wall, and to run their fingers over the names of the fathers they never met. At the Summer Solstice, he takes a young man – his own son or someone else’s – far into the woods and teaches him how to find his own food and his own way and his own soul. Every year they roast chestnuts over the first fire of winter and read a poem or a story that has touched one of them deeply. Like clockwork, they meet at the shore when the blueberries are peaking, and make cobbler and jelly and jam. When he moves into a new home, before he unpacks a single box, he gathers stones and creates a medicine wheel and a quiet place to pray. Every Wednesday, he buys flowers from the red-haired woman in front of the courthouse. Roses, if she has them; daffodils, if she doesn’t. He gives her a twenty, tells her to keep the change, and gives the flowers away to the first old man he sees. He does it every Wednesday, and has for as many decades as he can remember.

Excerpted from What There is to Love About A Man, by Rachel Snyder (Sourcebooks, 1999). This book is currently out-of-print, though limited used and perfectly imperfect copies may be bought for cheap right here at amazon.com and other places.

4 comments

  1. We gather at Joe’s on a crisp October morning, Coffee for most. Beer for some. The ‘man’ hug shared among the core. We chat about what chainsaw needs sharpening, who has the percosets (for laters back relief), the deer in the field, which log pile to start on and who’s position is who’s at the splitter.It starts out with three or four ‘supervisors’ (usually the beer drinkers) directing the mass confusion and stumbling around trying to help the roughshod process turn into a smooth running, orchestrated production. After the initial burst of enthusiasm things settle in and each finds their own spot among the group and accepts the designated or perceived position that needs their filling. The day wears on as we each relinquishes the worn out soldier from the strenuous task they, too, had taken over from the one before him. Lunch brings a long awaited break from the chore that we never prepare for. Moaning and groans, bandages replaced, war stories told about the log that almost… the finger…the toe! All smile at the mornings accomplishment. Each knowing the necessity to keep the winter stoves stoked will cost these little scars. Break time passes and few head off to Football practice, the tree stand, Shopping whatever other life chore needs to be done that fall day, besides, wearing oneself out from each years ritual. The core continues on..a well tuned and a greased machine is all that remains now. The rhythm goes unbroken as switching eachs chore, is a premonition known far in advance, before failure in this chain of events. The last pile dwindles quickly, as the remains are cleaned up and every odd piece is put through the mill, Finding it’s fate eventually on the stack. The field is scanned again for the evening feeders, the saws gathered up, stray files found, Tailgates put up, a pat on the back and the final Man hug given.

    Just one of ‘them’ too, Rachel…;)

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  2. babigurl322,
    thank you!

    outdoors2,

    Hard to say which touches me more: the rich window you opened into the Autumnal Ritual of the Wood, or the fact that this blogspace felt sufficiently welcoming for you to do so! Thank you so much for inviting me (us) in to your world.

    Like

  3. Well you started the thoughts about rituals and just went with it. I really didn’t mean to get so carried away, But Hey! Let it roll…Release, Leap right?

    I do need to thank you again, for stirring my thoughts with all of your wonderful posts.

    Like

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