Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Bette Midler Loves Kids Lit!

I’ve always loved Bette Midler, and now I have another reason – she is a fellow lover of kid-lit. While innocently reading a copy of People Magazine in the doctor’s waiting room the other day, I came across this little piece.

Three of Bette's four "Books of My Life" are kid's books, and she chose all-stars. 

Her childhood favorite, Betsy Tacy and Tib, by Maude Hart-Lovelace, was one of mine too. The series is worth a whole blog entry on my part (and will receive due attention in the future). 

Bette identifies most strongly with Huckleberry Finn, of course, Mark Twain's quintessential American icon. The connection is an obvious one - Huck and Bette are both free spirits with heart. 

And the book that made her cry? The poignant White Fang, by Jack London. The Divine Miss M is not just a fan of kids books, they are the books that move her the most.

Her choices are wonderful books for kids, and each also offers a unique snapshot of life in an America that is no more. These are characters that have become iconic examples of our favorite national qualities - adventurous, kind, stubborn and persistent. 

Is Bette my kindred spirit? I like to think so - her beauty, talent...well, maybe our inner qualities are more in sync. But she is a good person, is truly funny and makes me cry whenever she sings. And she blogs too - check out her highly entertaining  "Bette Midler"!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Legends of lacrosse

The season is over. Not winter, nor spring. No, I'm talking lacrosse.

For the past thirteen springs, our household has bowed down before the god of lacrosse. We have bought equipment, we have taxied children to afternoon and evening practices and games, spent our weekends on the sidelines, brought coolers of gatorades and food ranging from snacks and pasta parties to full-out tailgates feeding fifty-plus young college men. We have sacrificed spring break for so long that I can't even remember what it was like to be able to visit relatives or plum locales in mid-April. 

Today the high school team ended its bid for the county championship, the club team finished a couple of weeks ago, and last week the college team fell in the semi-finals of the conference championship. If you are not a lax family, the previous sentence may sound like gibberish. But to us, these and other terms - checking, heads, shafts, crease, face-off, riding, long stick, and sideline - all have new meanings.

Lacrosse is the quintessential American game. The Native Americans played it throughout the East, from Canada and south to the Carolinas and beyond. It varied in form, and was often a form of battle between warring tribes. But it also produced some wonderful folklore.

My favorite tale comes from the Cherokee. In this tale, the animals challenged the birds to a game. As the birds took their places in the trees and the four-legged animals prepared themselves on the ground, two small mouse-like animals climbed the trees and asked the birds to join their team, explaining that the animals didn’t want them as they were too small. The birds found a piece of leather to attach to the legs of one, and created the bat. They took the other and stretched him, and created the flying squirrel. The two new creatures turned out to be valuable members of the team, and helped bring a victory to the birds.

The Cherokee called the game “anetsa” and tied a bit of leather to their strings in honor of the bat and the flying squirrel who helped them. Our boys and girls have lots of rituals too, including their “swag” such as socks worn a certain way, a band around the knee, hair ribbons and head bands for the girls; and they prepare as if for war, complete with war paint (blacking under the eyes) and war cries as they take the field.

For myself, I admit that between seasons I miss watching the grace, the speed, strength and agility of the game. But we can have a toss in the backyard. And now that I think of it, there are those summer tournaments…