May Day

May. 8th, 2014 07:14 pm
pegkerr: (Default)
May Day, after several yucky years in a row, was beautiful and magical and just what I needed. Fiona and I went and basked in the sun and admired the puppets, the dancers, the stiltwalkers, and human-powered floats. I love that all sorts of people, all ages, all ability levels, participate. Then we went and joined the Minn-Stf picnic and ate grilled hotdogs and cheered from the sidelines as the Sun crossed over the pond and brought the Tree of Life back for the spring (I took pictures of that part, too, but my ipod touch camera couldn't handle the focus at such a distance, so those all got deleted. Oh, well. Just click on my 'May Day' tag and you can go back and see my pictures from other years.

Given what's going on right now, I just don't have the energy to do a full report. But I am stuffing a bunch of my favorite images behind the cut. Warning: graphic intensive. I may sprinkle a comment here or there if I have time later. But what I mostly want to say is that I loved the Pete Seeger puppet, I loved (as always) the marching band that lies down in the middle of the street. I love May Day.

I need its magic this year more desperately than ever.

Many, many pictures behind the cut )

Fiona and I came back home exhausted and with dreadful sunburns. But happy.

May Day

May. 5th, 2013 08:25 pm
pegkerr: (Telperion and Laurelin)
The girls and I went to May Day today. I didn't take the camera along, so I have no pictures to show off, sorry. It's fortunate the parade and festival were held today; the weather was much MUCH better than yesterday.

*sits and tries to think of what to say about May Day* I dunno. I felt oddly detached this year. This has been quite a difficult spring, in ways I'm not really talking about much on my journal. Due to a variety of reasons, I haven't been posting much online, and I haven't been seeing my friends. And today, it sorta felt like all that came back in a way to roost.

Due to the fact that I suck and haven't been paying as close attention to LJ as I should, I missed the fact that the picnic group we've met with after the parade the past few years decided not to picnic this time--it really just didn't coalesce this year. That's the first time that's happened in, what, eight or nine years? And I really missed it. Plus I brought a whole tupperware container of deviled eggs and there was no one to eat them, and no one else in my family will touch them. We did run into [ profile] dreamshark's family, at least, and it was lovely to see them, but still, a much less social experience than it has been in previous years.

The weather, at least, was lovely. But I was sort of stuck with the gear as the girls went off to explore, and, I dunno, I was lonely. It wasn't the same.

This has been such a hard spring.

The Sun came across the lake, at least. And the Tree arose from the banks to bless the city and the spring. Is it spring? It must be, although it has felt like a receding mirage for weeks (we last had snow two days ago!) May Day has come.

Heaven knows, I really need it.
pegkerr: (Default)
It was a gorgeous weekend. Delia struggled a fair amount with the decision when we asked her, 'What do you want to do for your birthday?' We suggested movies, and there were some she wanted to see, but that didn't seem special enough for a birthday. Yesterday, she decided she wanted to devote a day to art, and so we came up with an itinerary of various places we could visit: the Northern Clay Center, Wet Paint, an independent art store, and a place where people go to sketch the fourth Sunday of every month.

Today, she decided to throw all those plans out the window, and we went instead to the annual Pride Festival at Loring Park. It's attended by about 100,000 people in the Twin Cities. This year was the 40th anniversary.

Now, I've been to the Gay Pride Parade a couple times before, which is part of the weekend events, and even taken the girls (it's held on Sunday morning). But I've never been to the Minneapolis Pride Festival at Loring Park before.

I hear your gasp of surprise. I know, I know! I wrote The Wild Swans. How is it POSSIBLE that I have NEVER been to Loring Park on Pride Weekend?

I haven't. It certainly not that I'm not interested in the subject, as all the research I did for The Wild Swans triggered my interest in the topic of gay civil rights, an interest that has never diminished. It's not as close and convenient as the May Day Festival, and the crowd is much huger. But this year, yes, we went.

Delia's interest in these topics has certainly grown this year. The GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance) at her high school is extremely active (in fact, at her school the bathrooms turn unisex for a block of time every day to accommodate the transgender students). She also appeared in her school's production of '8,' which has also made her think about these things.

So what did I think of it? My base of comparison was, undoubtedly, May Day. Both are held in a Minneapolis park, with a lake, and booths for the event circle the lake. Both are colorful, both are a beloved ritual for many in the city, both are shot through with a certain feeling of the removal of restraint, an opening, a flowering. For May Day, it's winter that we're shaking off, for Pride, it's the closet. Both offer (expensive) food and bands on stages. At Pride, there is an extra layer of bureaucracy: none of the food booths accept cash. You have to purchase food and beverage tickets. If you neglected to bring cash, they have ATMS, but this means waiting in THREE lines: for the ATM, for the food and beverage ticket booth, and then for the food.

More naked skin: Pride, but the weather is much warmer by then, too, which is probably a factor.
More dreadlocks: May Day.
More glitter: Pride.
More corporate: Pride
More environmental: May Day, by far (May Day sold no bottled water at all this year. Instead, they had water stations set up all over the park, and people were encouraged to bring their own containers. They also recycle everything; even the food is separated out to be composted. It was certainly startling to me to see all the plastic bottles in the trash at Pride.)
More nonprofit: I'd say May Day is more nonprofit oriented. But Pride has probably a bigger nonprofit presence, simply because of its bigger size.

We parked at Uptown and then bused there, which worked well, and then the girls cheerfully informed me that they were ditching me. We checked in by phone every hour or so. I wandered by myself. Although it was my first time there, I didn't find much that surprised me; I've very familiar with many of the gay-oriented businesses and nonprofits in the city. (One thing that did was a whole avenue of booths, at least ten or so, all devoted to pets, mostly dogs. I guess they figure that gays luuuurrrrve their pets.)

It was hot. I debated between bringing a hat and something I purchased at the last Renaissance Festival: a big, sturdy Japanese paper parasol. I chose the parasol, and I'm very glad I did. This worked splendidly as a sunshade, and I was very glad I had it. I think it kept me much cooler than a hat alone would have done.

One nice thing: the girls encountered the Gaylaxicon 2012 booth where they saw some local SF/Fantasy fans that they knew. There was a white board up with trivia questions: and MY NAME was the answer to one of the trivia questions. (Fiona, they said, was the only person, however, who knew the answer to the question, which was a little lowering). Anyway, when the girls ran into me again, they told me this, so I stopped by the booth, and was very graciously told that if I wished to attend the convention, they would be delighted to comp my membership. So I will probably attend the Gaylaxicon in October of this year.

So: a very fun day, albeit exhausting. Happy Pride, everyone!

{Take the 100 Things challenge!}
pegkerr: (Default)
May Day was late this year, due to the rain date cancellation, and I am even later posting my pictures. But here they are. I no longer have my parade book so cannot give you much commentary on the intended meaning behind many of the characters, some of them very strange, that marched in the parade. But as Terry Garey once remarked (and this sort of a hazy paraphrase based on my memory of an email she sent out about the parade once years ago), it all sort of boils down to the same thing every year: good conquers evil because it's nicer.

The parade and ceremony seemed so much more successful to me this year than last year, mostly because of the weather. Whereas last year it felt we were unable to banish the gloom from the park, this year's weather was warm and marveleous. It almost felt that all our work was done before the parade even started. We found a good spot near our usual location, at the point where the parade turns from Bloomington Avenue to head for Powderhorn park. Here's Fiona with a couple of her friends (Delia had wandered off to meet up with several of her own friends).

Pictures follow. Lots of pictures.

The parade begins )

The Tree of Life is carried in the parade, shrouded )

I loved the big cranes )

With my interest in the heart of flesh/heart of stone theme, I was happy to see the heart here )

Stiltwalkers appear throughout the parade, always traditional )

Sloths appeared in the parade to remind us to slow down and smell the flowers )

Yes, at the May Day parade we have violins in the marching band )

All the floats in the parade are human-powered )

Community May poles )

Part of the South American dancer contingent )

One of the four horses representing the four winds, I think )

More marchers )

The May Day parade keeps community front and center )

Marching bees )

This may be my favorite picture of the day. It says it all:

One thing I enjoy about the parade each year is that it's so colorful )

After the parade ended... )

We headed to the park to picnic and watch the ceremony. Here's the sun, preparing to be rowed across the lake )

And when the sun finally arrives on the opposite shore )

The Tree of Life miraculously rises up to bless the community )

Happy May Day!

pegkerr: (Default)
From the Heart of the Beast:
Hello everyone!

Unfortunately, due to standing water in the park and poor weather, we have decided to POSTPONE the MAYDAY FESTIVAL until the rain date next weekend. The MayDay Festival will happen on SUNDAY MAY 13. The parade will kick off at 1:00 PM and all other details will remain the same.

PLEASE help us spread the word- SHARE this with your networks. See you next Sunday and Happy May Day.
I'm both sad and relieved. Sad not to be going to May Day today, but relieved I won't be sitting in a puddle.
pegkerr: (Default)
I've been contacted by OutFront, asking whether I want to volunteer to man a phone bank to help defeat the Minnesota Marriage Amendment. I said I'd think about it. I'm not sure about phone bank work, but I really want to do SOMETHING. So I went to poke around the Minnesota United for All Families website to see what other volunteer opportunities there might be.

On May 20, Minnesota United for All Families are trying to set up house parties to bring people together to discuss the amendment and try to raise money to defeat it: "By hosting an event on this day you will help support Minnesotans United – by inviting your friends, coworkers, neighbors and family to events on this day you will help organize Minnesotans to Vote No and raise the money needed to defeat this amendment." I am not sure I can host a party, but perhaps I could find another person doing so and volunteer to help. (See the Facebook group here.)

Another possibility: They are asking for volunteers at the May Day parade and at a booth at Powderhorn Park. This is something that perhaps I could do. Perhaps one or both of the girls might be interested in participating, too.

I just want to defeat this amendment so badly. I don't have much money to contribute (although I've already made a small donation). But I need to get out and volunteer.
pegkerr: (Telperion and Laurelin)
Saw this link on Twitter: some great, arty shots from the May Day Parade. Credit: @DirtyHairHalo.

May Day

May. 2nd, 2011 03:04 pm
pegkerr: (Telperion and Laurelin)
May Day didn't quite feel like May Day.

It really didn't quite work for me. I feel like a traitor to say it, but it's true.

I'd invited Mom and Dad--it would have been their first May Day since they just moved to Minneapolis last fall, and I was so excited to share it with them. The girls had invited their respective boys. But every single person other than me bailed on going, and despite my disappointment, I couldn't blame them in the least. The temperature was in the mid-thirties, and the forecast said heavy winds, and possibly rain or even snow. Obviously, it would have been madness in particular for my very sick Fiona to go. The precipitation held off, but the sun was not spotted all day, and the relentless wind was numbing.

So I went to the parade by myself and even though there was a respectable crowd, I saw no one I know. The parade had some of its usual magical moments, but there were a strong preponderance of crows, which were supposed to be hopeful, but instead kept reminding me, depressingly, of the ravens. The parade started really late, and the ceremony in the park (the raising of the Tree of Life) started even later. The crowd was much smaller, and due to the weather, no one was particularly tempted to wander around and listen to music. The picnic in the park had about a half dozen die-hard loyalists instead of the twenty or thirty or so we usually see, and it was so cold and dreadful that several of those left before the Tree of Life even went up. It ain't a lot of fun to picnic when the temperature's in the 30s. The sight of the Tree didn't lift my heart like it usually does.

Maybe it's just because it's been such a hard year, but this year for the first time ever, it felt as if the cold and the dark still had the park in thrall when I left.

[ profile] dreamshark's report is here. Like me, she thought there were too many crows.
pegkerr: (All we have to decide is what to do with)
All week, I've been troubled by the news that in attempting to kill Gaddafi, Americans instead killed his son and three of his grandchildren. There seemed to be very little discussion, much less abhorrence, of this fact in the news, just a general impression of, oh yeah, bad guy, let's kill him. If innocents get in the way, hey, that's war.

I kept thinking about the fact that Obama's been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, a fact that seems more embarrassing and awful the longer various conflicts drag on.

And then there was last night's news regarding Osama Bin Laden.

A great ethical trap which we have not managed to avoid is the danger of becoming what we oppose. I keep thinking of the exchange in The Lord of the Rings between Gandalf and Frodo:
Frodo: It's a pity Bilbo didn't kill him [Gollum] when he had the chance.
Gandalf: Pity? It was pity that stayed Bilbo's hand. Many that live deserve death. Some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them, Frodo? Do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. Even the very wise cannot see all ends. My heart tells me that Gollum has some part to play yet, for good or ill before this is over. The pity of Bilbo may rule the fate of many.
I don't think that America has much pity any more. Osama Bin Laden didn't, of course. He reveled in the deaths of many. But in answering the threat that he presented and in responding to the actions he set in motion, we have followed the path and the role he deliberately manipulated us into assuming: we have done much to present ourselves to the world as pitiless, cruel and oppressive, and consequently, we are loathed through much of the world. We have rivers of innocent blood on our hands, and the blood of the guilty, even those as guilty as Osama Bin Laden does not wash it away.

I am not excusing or minimizing what he did, heaven knows. At the free speech section in the May Day parade yesterday a contingent was marching with signs proclaiming that 9/11 was an inside job of the U.S. government, and I was so angry at such a pack of lies that I left the parade route and didn't watch any further. But I will not gloat or rejoice in Osama Bid Laden's death. I would rather see us turn our efforts to re-finding the country's soul, which we seem to have lost along the way.
pegkerr: (Default)
I didn't post about it previously, but I did go to May Day as usual, along with Delia. (Fiona, that heretic, missed it this year because she was off at a birthday party. Her excuse was that paintball was involved.) My life has since gotten caught up in further Highly Distracting Events That Are Eating Up All My Attention, so I'm sorry if the lack of my usual May Day report was a disappointment. We attended the parade and then joined the usual Minn-stf picnic afterwards. I didn't pull out my camera since I knew there were many others there taking pictures galore.

Here are [ profile] barondave's pictures:

Mayday Part I: Parade

Mayday Part II: Festival and MN-StF Picnic

The traditional Lake Street Intersection Lay Down. This gives you a pretty good idea of the spirit of The Heart of the Beast's May Day. Needless to say, this is hardly a typical community marching band performance:

MyCharityWater Campaign Report:

75 people served
39 donations
47 days left
pegkerr: (Default)
A very nice picture of Fiona (lying down on the blanket) and me at the May Day picnic, taken by [ profile] barondave.

Good heavens, that's quite a bit more cleavage than I ordinarily display.

(THAT will undoubtedly make everybody click the link)

See the rest of [ profile] barondave's great May Day pictures here and here. I'm glad to see the pictures, although they make me even more keenly sorry I missed the parade. I particularly get a kick out of the dungbeetles.
pegkerr: (Default)
It's awesome to have a totally clear day outside for my birthday. Free birthday coffee from Caribou for the win.

Chris Stewart in another racism accusations kerfluffle. Surprised? Not. Judging from experience, I'm much more inclined to believe Tim Cadotte.

The reunion for the Mexico mission group is this coming Sunday, which is the same day as the May Day parade. I'm wildly irritated about this; I don't want to miss the parade, but the girls don't want to miss the reunion, which would mean driving to Minnetonka.

I have been forced to hand over the cell phone to Rob, who needs it for his job with the census, so Mom, if you try to call it to reach me, you'll reach him instead. It is making me remarkably twitchy to be without it.

The Tonks and the Auror's EP "Tonks for the Memories" has given me hope again for the Wizard Rock EP of the Month Club.

Tonight we have a simultaneous Girl Scout meeting, karate class and school meeting for parents. I suppose I'm supposed to get dinner in there somewhere, too, only I have no idea where.

I need a book to read.

I am starting to get a very very tiny itch to write original fiction again. I'm not sure what, if anything, will come of it.

My lawn looks just terrible, and I have zero incentive to do anything with the garden this year. Lack of money, time, motivation. My sister assures me that gardening gets easier when the kids get a bit older. Until then, avert your eyes when passing my house. Sorry.

Bete noir flourless chocolate cake for lunch, also for the win. It's my birthday. Bite me.

I'm not going to start riding my bike May 1, because of the knee problems. I am feeling a great deal of guilt over this. But my knee hurts every time I do something as innocent as hiking it up to cross my legs.

Sometimes grace is all about just going on with your life, despite everything. There may be pride there, too. I've been taught to extol one and be suspicious of the other, but I suppose it doesn't matter as long as the result is the same. Right?
pegkerr: (Default)
From my post 5/5/08 "The Tree and the Sun." Click to see close up:

This was sure pretty when I printed it out. I'm going to hang it above my desk at work, and add it to my Trees collection.
pegkerr: (Default)
A couple more cards, just one image each (I still feel like that's sorta cheating, but these are very important cards to my deck, and they are perfect just as is). These are pictures taken by David Dyer-Bennet and used with permission.

The Sun )

The Tree of Life )

I have written extensively in this journal over the years about the May Day parade and Tree of Life ceremony which is put on here in Minneapolis every year the first Sunday in May by the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theater. See all my entries tagged may day. Every year, the Sun comes over the water of Powderhorn Park to magically awaken the Tree of Life, and the whole community (several tens of thousands people) cheer and clap to greet the Tree and her promise of the renewal of the spring. Because I suffer from seasonal affective disorder, this yearly ritual has become extremely powerful for me. To me, the Sun and the Tree are magical symbols of hope. The Sun card, along with the Expecto Patronum card, is also a card against the Dementors (I take daily walks outside in the sunlight in the autumn and winter to keep my depression at bay). (See my account from this year), and a video of the ceremony here, which was taken the same year that these pictures of the Tree and Sun were taken.
pegkerr: (Default)
Found this on YouTube; it's a video taken of the Tree of Life Ceremony from two years ago (the year Fiona was a sunrunner). It'll give you a good taste of what the ceremony is like.

pegkerr: (Default)
Yesterday was our most important community ritual of the year, put on by In The Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre: the May Day Parade, with the Tree of Life ceremony at Powderhorn Park afterwards. The weather was gorgeous, so the crowd was huge. (And after the cold, rainy and miserable spring we've had, a sunny day with the temperature at about 65 degrees with little wind felt like not just like 'a nice day' but an expected gift from the gods). I didn't take pictures this year, but simply concentrated on enjoying the parade. The girls have been too busy this year (what with karate, Girl Scouts and National History Day) to participate in the workshops where people make their costumes and floats, so they didn't march in the parade. We were at the corner of 34th Street and Bloomington Avenue, where the parade turns to go into Powderhorn Park.

Afterwards, we gathered with a group of friends on the southeast side of the lake for a picnic. The drum jam set up right next to us, perhaps inevitably, but they were a small group at first, and so it didn't make conversation impossible. Fiona went to watch the Tree of Life ceremony at the end of the lake, but Delia and I decided to stay with the rest of the picnic group and lounged and ate the potluck offerings. The Tree of Life ceremony was late getting started, but we kept an eye on it from afar. When the horns started sounding, signaling it was time for the Sun to row across the lake to bring the Tree of Life awake, I sat up and started watching more closely.

The progress of the rowers was slow (the wind is inevitably against the rowers each year, and the Sun acts as a giant sail, always slowing them down). As the floatilla kept doggedly battling their way across toward the opposite shore, I felt a lump start up in my throat, and I drifted over to the edge of the lake to lean against a tree.

Oh, how often in this past very hard winter have I longed for the return of the sun! I thought of the struggles with the layoff, when fears and doubts seemed so ascendent. I thought of all the dark days, when the depression seemed so crushing, how I kept playing The Mountain Goats' song "This Year" ("I am going to make it through this year if it kills me.") I thought of how hard I had tried to see the Holy Tree inside of myself, and the inspiration of the Tree Project, of all the trees in pictures and gifts that had been sent to me by all of you, to give me hope.

Now tears were running down my face in earnest. The horns continued to sound, a wild clarion call ringing above the roars and cheers and clapping of the assembled crowd. Finally, FINALLY, the sun landed on shore, the sunrunners dressed in colors of flame, their banners streaming out behind them, tore down the hill to greet and honor it, and the Tree of Life rose and towered above the crowd, spreading Her arms wide to greet the spring, to greet the day, to bestow on us all Her blessing. To my surprise, then the Tree turned away from the crowd on blanket hill and spread Her arms toward the lake, toward me, as if to say, yes, I see you. Yes, I am here, and I cried even harder out of sheer happiness. I don't remember the Tree ever turning that way before.

After a few minutes, I managed to pull myself together. I drifted back over to the picnic blankets, pulled out a napkin, and wiped my face dry. Nobody noticed or commented. The drummers drummed on and on, pulsing out the heartbeat of a people, a community. Winter is over, and now it's time to dance.

I pulled a piece of papaya from a tupperware container and ate it. It was delicious. [ profile] minnehaha B. handed me a lamb sausage hot off the grill, so big and juicy that it was almost too much for the bun it rested in to handle. Fiona came back from the Tree of Life ceremony, flopped down on the blanket, and reached for some chips. Delia wandered off and borrowed a hulahoop and showed off what she can do with those marvelous abs she's developed from karate.

The sun poured down like honey on us as we sat there together, friends and family, listening to the drums, talking together and celebrating the spring.

Read a parade report from [ profile] naomikritzer here and another from [ profile] janradder, with pictures, here. More pictures here by [ profile] neugotik. Picnic reports from [ profile] dreamshark here and [ profile] skylarker here. Here's a picture from the parade from [ profile] barondave; I hope he will post more pictures soon. If you have links to other parade reports or pictures, please leave them in the comments.

Here are pictures of the Tree and Sun from a previous year )
pegkerr: (Default)
I was going to post pictures of the May Day Parade, but [ profile] springbok1 has already done such an excellent job that I will simply instead refer you to her entry here. I ask you, how often do you get to see a parade with dancing jelly fish? Or a frog marching band? Or a dragon made out of water bottles? Or a giant faucet, dancing on stilts? Or a twenty-foot high water Goddess Mother of the Waters? Note the picture of [ profile] naomikritzer, dressed a water lily, marching with her daughter Molly and one of Molly's friends.

See also reports and/or pictures by:

[ profile] dreamshark here
[ profile] naomikritzer here
[ profile] notthatedburke here

We had a great time, although the girls were a little sorry not to be marching in the parade itself this year. We walked over to Powderhorn Park afterwards to watch the Tree of Life Ceremony, where we were joined by my friend Sanjuanita, there for her very first May Day. After that, we joined a number of picnickers ([ profile] dreamshark, [ profile] minnehaha B. and K., [ profile] buttonlass, [ profile] lollardfish, [ profile] buttonfish, [ profile] mizzlaurajean, and doubtless others I am forgetting) and lounged around eating brautwurst and grilled oysters. A lovely May Day, and surprisingly, the rain held off all afternoon.

(If anyone else has posted a report or pictures of the parade or ceremony, leave the link in the comments. Thanks.)
pegkerr: (Default)
Delia went out first thing this morning to wash her face with dew. I don't know if Fiona did, perhaps she did on the way to the bus stop. We were not sufficiently organized to get May baskets on neighbors' doors, sorry. Please accept this virtual May Day basket instead:

May basket

A Blessed Beltane to those of you who celebrate it.

We'll see you at the May Day parade this Sunday, yes? The parade is 1-3 p.m. and the ceremony at Powderhorn Park is at 3:30 p.m. And don't forget to bring some money to throw in the after-parade bucket brigade to support The Heart of the Beast Mask and Puppet Theater!

We didn't attend the workshops this spring and so won't be marching in the parade this year--too busy with karate, and I was frankly too distracted by (and depressed about) the layoff. But I intend to enjoy the parade this Sunday with the girls.


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