Gladness about madness

One of my favorite poets is Emily Dickinson. I don’t remember being exposed to her work in school, which is a pity, since so much of it is perfect for young minds.

What, specifically, do I like about it? Well, it illustrates profound insights in the simplest and clearest terms. A lot of her poems are hauntingly visual, and almost all of them are only four lines long — a sign of her ability to express and compress thoughts and images.

Beyond that, she has a quirky wit and sense of humor.

Sadly, though she lived from 1830-86, her work had no widespread distribution till well into the 20th century. In fact, the first complete and unedited book of her works didn’t come out till 1955.

To say she was a private person is immense understatement. For all practical purposes, she spent her entire adulthood as a housebound recluse.

Similarly, though she wrote around 1,800 poems, only 10 were published in her lifetime.

Apparently, some of her friends knew she wrote poetry (while she was reclusive, she did have extensive friendships through letters), no one knew how much she wrote or how far ahead of her time she was. After she died, her sister found her collection of poems, with instructions to destroy them. Luckily for us, she didn’t.

Over the years, I’ve read and reread her poems, never tiring of them and often gaining new insights from them. I’ve memorized some of her stuff, and sometimes a few lines, or even a whole poem, will pop into my head at the oddest of times and for no apparent reason. Which is what happened Tuesday, as I was picking up t-shirts from Bear Essentials.

I’d walked out the door, doing my version of geriatric cross-fit by shlepping a carton of 40 t-shirts, when suddenly these lines came to mind:

A little madness in the Spring

Is wholesome even for the King

True, true, I thought, wobbling my way up Berkeley Park’s icy stairs.

Then I thought how Saranac Lakers get ripped off on spring madness, for the simple reason that we have no real spring.

But then I thought, who needs spring madness, when we’ve got Winter Carnival? Or as I later conjured up in faux Dickinsonian verse:

Carnival Lunacy, night and day,

Makes cabin fever fade away.

Dingbats’ Dee-lites

Let’s face it: While we don’t have doodle-squat for spring, we have more winter than almost every other mother’s son in the lower 48. And so we need to take more drastic measures to cope with Jack Frost, et. al. Which is why for the glorious 10 days of Carnival, most traditional measures of sanity are gleefully put to rest.

F’rinstance, for several years we had night movies in Berkeley Park. Is that for real? I mean, how many people would park their dupas on a cement bench in near-zero weather and watch a flick? I’ll tell you how many — a whole Berkeley Parkful.

Or if you’re a PGA fan, we’ve got something better — Arctic Golf. A different organization makes each hole, all of which are as funky as it gets. One might be a mountain with a circular approach before it and another one after it. Another might start in an ice tunnel, then take a sharp left, go into another tunnel, then rise over a berm, curve to the right, and lead to the cup (a soup can, usually, if my memory serves me right). All the while, the wind is doing a slice and dice on your corpus and your snot locker and eyes are running to beat the band. Since I don’t play golf and I go there just to have fun with my friends, I never keep score. But I’d bet, given the craziness of the holes’ layouts, and the generally uncooperative weather, Tiger Woods would be lucky to make a hole-in-twenty.

Hmm, what else …?

Well, every year the Mountaineers, our local rugby club, play a game on Petrova field, almost always in knee-deep snow. The number of spectators is minimal, which makes no nevermind to the ruggers, since they have a ball of and by themselves, and just for fun’s sake.

Then there’s the longest icicle contest. Since I’m now on the Winter Carnival Committee, I’m not allowed to enter any contests, which is a pity since I know where My Home Town’s longest icicle is hanging (at least the longest accessible icicle). Hint: It’s hiding in plain view on Upper Broadway.

You like ultimate frisbee? If so, there’s a game on Petrova Field (check schedule for time) sponsored most appropriately by LifePower Chiropractic.

The list may not be endless, but it sure seems like it. Certainly, no one could attend all the events for the simple reason no piece of matter can occupy two different places at the same time.

Wheeled Whackjobs

So what’s my favorite event?

Glad you asked.

It’s one that’s never been done before — The Blue Buns Wheel-a-Palooza, a swimsuit-clad bike ride around town.

But if it’s never been done before, how can it be my favorite? Simple: Because the BBW is my brainless child. Like every Carnival event, it takes a whole bunch of people to make it happen, and luckily I have enough lunatic friends to lend helping hands.

The weather reports for the weekend called for a Polar Vortex, with temps in the wayyyy sub-zero. As a result, folks kept asking me if the event would still be held if it was that cold. To me, that is the best example of a rhetorical question. Too cold for a Winter Carnival event? That’s like asking if a contestant for Miss Universe is too beautiful, or an Olympic sprinter is too fast.

The real question is not whether the kooks will show up to ride. Instead, it’s will a legion of fans line the streets to cheer us on.

And the best comment on that comes from the BBW’s CEO, Director of Marketing and Minister of Recruitment — Bushwhack Jack Drury. And he did it in a poetic manner that I’ve no doubt would’ve made Emily Dickinson swell with pride.

And here ’tis:

If you can’t ride,

Don’t let it slide.

Just don’t be gone —

Instead, cheer us on!


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