THE CRICKET on the LINO, and MY “EBENEEZER SCROOGE SUMMER RITUAL”
I believe I’ve mentioned before that I’m a huge fan of Charles Dickens. This owes in large part to a childhood ritual in my family. Each Christmas for as long as I can remember, my dad would start reading aloud from A Christmas Carol to my mother and me. He’d start a few days before Christmas Eve, always at the very beginning. He wouldn’t always keep it up right to the very end, and consequently, we all knew the first part extremely well, and the middle part quite well. To this day, whenever I see a passage quoted, I always hear it in my dad's voice; he was terrific at reading aloud, and made the conversations and descriptions come alive. He read from an old leather-bound 1933 edition that contained all of Dickens’ Christmas books. There’s five altogether, but of course, A Christmas Carol is the best known. And maybe the next most familiar by title is The Cricket on the Hearth. Not many people are as familiar with the plot of that one, and it isn’t as cherished as the Scrooge tale; I confess I haven’t read it all the way to the end myself. But the idea of a cricket in the house (discounting the potential pest problems) is not without it’s charm. Here, from a catalogue that sells verdigris brass hearth crickets:
For thousands of years, crickets have been a symbol of good luck. Crickets symbolize luck and prosperity; having one living in your house is lucky, but a cricket on the hearth brings the greatest luck of all!
Well, last night I found a tiny baby cricket in my house—not on my gas fireplace hearth, but under the edge of the cabinet in the bathroom. I should mention at this point that my Ebenezer Scrooge Summer Ritual consists of searching, before going to bed, every corner of my bedroom and the little attached ensuite bathroom, with a flashlight, including shaking the bedskirt (and anything else lying suspiciously on the floor) in search of spiders, earwigs, and any other creature I don’t want to be visited by, haunted by, in the middle of the night, like poor Scrooge. I can vividly recall, in my dad’s voice, old Scrooge (after having seen dead Marley’s ghostly face superimposed on his front door-knocker) making his rounds, checking his chambers thoroughly for any other ghostly signs before retiring.
I was quite delighted to find the baby cricket in my bathroom; I’ve been hoping the hard winter we had didn’t wipe them out, and I was tempted to leave him there. But then I thought of trying to sleep with him chirping away, so close by. One plastic deli container (and a piece of paper to slide under it) later, he was out the patio door. Perhaps I was tossing out some good luck, but unlike poor old Scrooge, I was going to get a good night’s sleep.
The photo is from the family volume my dad read from. I didn't take a picture of the actual cricket in my bathroom; I didn't want to scare it into a crack and out of reach. It was pretty tiny, anyway.
The Cloud Messenger (Meghadūta) is a lyric poem by the respected Indian poet, Kālidāsa. The poem centers around a yaksa in exile. Longing for his beloved, waiting for him on a Himalayan mountain, he asks a cloud to take a message to her. The sights he tells the cloud it will see on its way make up most of the poem.
The idea of recording observations appeals to me. I thought The Cloud Messenger was the perfect title for a blog about the journey that we all make as we move through our days.
I'm a baby boomer who grew up dancing in the streets of Detroit during the classic Motown years, lived beside the Rocky Mountains for many years, now retired and living (and writing full time) in S. Ontario. I have one blog for rock 'n' roll oldies, and one for nature, poetry and life along the Lake.