Daily Archives: December 14, 2008

Winter & Birds

I actually started this post last December but was so astonished and disappointed in my memory I didn’t finish it.

I wrote it after hearing birds sing one December morning last year and remembering the poem, below, that I used to recite aloud in our empty two-car garage.

I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December
A magical thing
And sweet to remember.

‘We are nearer to Spring
Than we were in September,’
I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December.

– Oliver Herford, I Heard a Bird Sing

I thought the poem was from the “Song of Solomon” and may have actually told people it was. When I looked the poem up on the World Wide Web I discovered that it was not part of the Song of Solomon after all, but by someone named Oliver Herford.

I realize, now, why I made the mistake. The book of poetry that contained I Heard a Bird Sing also held this part of the Song of Solomon:

For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone;
The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land;

Now I don’t feel so bad — they are both about winter and birds and in the same book.

Photo by James Jordan

W00t! W00t!

Ok. Coming from a mom, w00t doesn’t mean much, but this is w00tworthy.

Whitman Vikings Wrestling won the Mad Mats Wrestling Championship and had 5 wrestlers win the top honors. We had many more place as well.

The most exciting of the many exciting matches was J. D.’s championship match.

J. D. just started wrestling this year. He began practicing a month ago and had his first match a week ago. He was recruited to the team by merit of his size (he’s a heavy-weight — a hard-to-come-by weight class) and strength. Saturday he received a championship medal.

After his win he hugged nearly everyone in the room. What a feel-good moment it was.

A bald eagle story

Yesterday, on the way to a wrestling tournament, I looked up and saw a bald eagle soaring high above the strip malls along Norbeck Road in Montgomery County. I immediately thought it was a bald eagle by the way its wings were straight out (not in a “V” like a vulture). Any doubt diminished when I saw the flashes of white on its tail and head as it rode the wind currents.

I was excited to see this eagle, even though they are not uncommon anymore. I don’t get out to places where they are seen very often — so seeing this one pleased me — and made me remember my first bald eagles.

It must have been the late 1980’s and we were spending Thanksgiving or New Year’s Eve with my parents in their Wisconsin home. My dad was still my dad and he and I were on an errand to pick up some groceries in town. We’d just gone through the main part of Minocqua and were passing lake Minocqua. I looked over at the frozen lake and noticed ice fishermen. Then I noticed large birds flying over the fishermen and realized they were bald eagles. I let out a joyous curse word then immediately apologized for swearing in front of my dad. He laughed and pulled over so I could get a longer look at my first eagles. When we got back to the house I wrote, in large black letters on the not-yet-painted drywall “Dona saw her first bald eagle!” and the date of the siting.

Dad would often remind me of that day when we were together, but he may have forgotten about it by now. I haven’t forgotten though — it is a good memory I have of my dad.

Lundy Day

Lundy the Traitor

Note: The fact that I’m posting about this event does not mean I support the Order of the Orange. I found it interesting and am glad that this kind of celebration can peacefully take place and that both sides are sitting down and discussing things instead of lobbing bombs and bullets at each other.

I’m a few days late with this post — I’d forgotten about Lundy Day until about 4:00 am when I couldn’t sleep and my thought stream lead from my desire for a G1 phone to using a GPS (and getting lost) while walking in Derry, Northern Ireland, to OMG LUNDY’S BEEN BURNED ALREADY! Unfortunately I’d been having trouble sleeping and that didn’t help at all.

Are you familiar with the story of Robert Lundy? I’d never heard of him nor the Apprentice Boys until we visited the Apprentice Boys’ Memorial Hall in Derry, Northern Ireland this past July. In a nutshell (and if you know the story better than I, please comment and I’ll correct my story), when supporters of King James II of England tried to invade the walled city of Derry in 1689 he found the city gates locked. The story goes that 13 apprentice boys were the ones who closed and locked the gates.  The governer of the city, Colonel Robert Lundy met with a few of his loyal supporters to discuss surrender. The rest of the city had different ideas and believed in “No Surrender!”. Lundy, realizing he was in a bit of a pickle, sneaked out of the city and was never captured.

The city, probably frustrated from not being able to capture and punish Lundy himself, decided to burn him in effigy each year to commemorate the Shutting of the Gates during the Siege of Derry.

Here’s a better explanation from the website of the Apprentice Boys

Each year the Apprentice Boys of Derry celebrate the stand taken by the thirteen apprentices who shut the gates: the “Brave Thirteen”.

Following the arrival of King William III in England, there had been widespread panic among Protestants in Ireland that there would be a massacre of Protestants. While the citizens of Londonderry were agitated by these reports, news came that a regiment of Roman Catholics were on their way to Londonderry.

When the army arrived on the 7th December (old calendar), the leaders of the city were still debating what to do. Thirteen young apprentices took the initiative and shut the gates in the faces of the army. Their actions were the spark which led to the Siege of Derry, the longest siege in British military history.

Today we commemorate their actions in our annual Shutting of the Gates Celebrations on the first Saturday in December.

The Celebrations start with the symbolic firing of a cannon on the city’s historic walls at midnight. 13 members of a Parent Club will then make their way to each of the four original City gates, as the 13 apprentices did in 1688.

The main celebrations begin later on Saturday with the visiting Branch Clubs and bands parading from the Waterside to the Memorial Hall. The main parade then makes its way from Society Street around the City Centre to a service of thanksgiving in St Columb’s Cathedral. Following the service, the parade makes its way back to Bishop Street for the traditional burning of Lundy the Traitor.

Robert Lundy EffigyWhen we visited The Apprentice Boys’ Memorial Hall we were able to see view the unfinished effigy of Lundy the Traitor. He hung, unceremoniously, in a storage closet. I asked the man who gave us a tour if the burning was ever televised in the States or on the Internet. He said they were not that technologically savvy yet, but maybe someday.

Luckily for us, folks in the croud were technologically savvy:


The burning of Lundy the Traitor (the exact one we saw):

And if you’re in for a long parade with Apprentice Boys, marching bands and Saint Nicholas, here you go:

Thanks to billyred1 for these videos.