by Angeliska on August 9, 2009
Today something magical happened:
it rained while the sun was shining.
I know perhaps it’s not so very rare,
but when it does occur and the opportunity
for dancing around madly in it present itself-
well, it really is pure magic, straight-up.
The light turns golden, and the drops
are slanting out over the road, and there’s
just one big fat grey cloud pouring down
overheard in an otherwise clear blue sky.
When I watched Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams
many years ago, I learned that when this happens,
the foxes are having their wedding.
Beware unwittingly stumbling upon their procession!
Gate-crashers are punished severely.
This scene made a huge impression on me.
(Photo by Isado)
I always grew up hearing “The devil is beating his wife!”
whenever a sunshower happened- it’s apparently
a Southern thing. I peeked around and found a wealth
of lore regarding this meteorological phenomenon
(on Wikipedia, of course) which I will share now
with you, because it’s fantastic:
* In South African English, it is referred to as a “monkey’s wedding,”
a loan translation of the Zulu umshado wezinkawu, a wedding for monkeys.
In Afrikaans, it is referred to as jakkalstrou, jackals wedding, or also
“Jakkals trou met wolf se vrou as dit reen en die son skyn flou”, meaning
“Jackal marries Wolf’s wife when it rains and the sun shines faintly.”
* In Hindi it is also called “the jackal’s wedding.”
* In Bengali it is called a devil’s wedding.
* In Arabic, the term is “the rats are getting married.”
* Bulgarians speak of the Devil’s marrying.
* In Korea, a male tiger gets married.
* In various African languages, leopards are getting married.
* In Kenya, hyenas are getting married.
* One animal, the fox, crops up all over the world, from Kerala to Japan
(Japan also refers to it as ‘Kitsune (the fox) takes a bride,’);
there’s even an English dialect term, “the foxes’ wedding,”
known from the south west of England. In Calabria, Italy,
it is said that “when it rains with sun, the foxes are getting married.”
In Polish, the saying is that “when the sun is shining and the rain is raining, the witch is making butter.”
For Filipinos, “elves are getting married”, or “tikbalang” (half-horse, half-men) and a “kapre” are getting married,
while in Spain it is witches, and in Greece it is the poor.
In Lithuanian, the phenomenon is described as “orphans’ tears,”
where the sun is the grandmother drying those tears.
In Russian, it is called грибной дождь (gribnoy dozhd’), “mushroom rain,”
as such conditions are considered favorable to growing mushrooms.
It is also often referred to as слепой дождь (slepoy dozhd’}, which literally translates as “blind rain”.
In the United States, particularly the South, a sunshower is said
to show that “the devil is beating his wife.” In German, the variation is
“Wenn’s regnet und die Sonne scheint, so schlägt der Teufel seine
Großmutter: er lacht und sie weint,” or “When it’s raining and the sun shines,
the devil is beating his grandmother: he laughs and she cries.”
Similar phrases occur in Hungary and Holland. The lower Caribbean
also has a notable variant, “The devil and his wife are fighting for a bone”.
A regional variant from Tennessee is “the devil is kissing his wife.”
Well, whaddya know! What do you call it?
Today was poignant and pensive for me, so I was glad to have
such a benediction to marvel at and frolic in.
August 8th is the 22nd anniversary of my mother’s death.
Hard to fathom, really. It’s something I’ve been processing
very slowly- and for many, many years (most of my childhood)
not at all. My aunt gave me some things that were hers recently:
her hand-tooled guitar strap, her psychedelic sculpture, a painting.
There’s so much I want to understand about who she was,
and who I am- and the only way I can find to do it is by writing.
Look at her beautiful red curls! That’s me when I was very new,
and my cousin all pink-cheeked and bowl-headed.
I feel that at some point in my life, part of my work
will be focused on helping people deal with death + loss.
I get so angry when I think about how much we’ve lost the
ability to mourn our dead, and the loss of our traditions
and even our words to speak of grief. Or, truly- to listen.
It’s not something to be spoken of, or written about
these days, and that’s just wrong. I will not spend another
day of my life tip-toeing around it, and one day
I hope to change the way death is processed in this country.
Our culture has lost its memory- the roads we traveled to
get to where we are now are buried and lost.
More on this soon- it’s a subject I’m very passionate about,
and I’d be grateful to hear your views on it.
For further reading on the subject of mi madre and this date,
turn back the pages of the bee-log and read: