ordinary days


My mother mentioned that yesterday was St Andrew’s Day, adding that this meant that there would be no more “special days” until Christmas.

Well, I may have been brought up a Protestant, but I lived in Spain long enough to know that that couldn’t be right: every day seems to be the feast day of a dozen or more saints in the Catholic calendar, so I headed off to Google to find out more about St Andrew, as well as what other dates may be coming up that I should pay attention to.

In the end I didn’t discover much about St Andrew, so, at least for the moment, he figures in my mind as the patron saint of Scottish Dancing, in recognition of the many happy childhood hours I spent skipping and slipping, jigging and reeling on a Friday night at St Andrew’s Church Hall. (These memories are the excuse for the poem I’ve chosen for the end of this post.)

As for other “special days”, from my years in Spain I already knew that the Immaculate Conception is celebrated on December 8th, but hadn’t remembered that St Nicholas’ Day falls on the 5th.

Of course I knew we are just entering Advent, though I hadn’t realised that this was such a movable feast: starting on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, this year it begins on December 2nd, two days after St Andrew’s on November 30th, while, due to the vagaries of our calendar, it can fall as early as November 27th. Presumably this must mean that each year the Advent calendar has a different number of windows to open – something else I had never realised.

As I explored the Catholic liturgical calendar, I learned something else new: today is the last day of Ordinary Time in 2018. Apparently there are two stretches of Ordinary Time each year: from Epiphany through to Lent, and from the end of Pentecost through to Advent.

I tried to pass on some of my newfound knowledge to my mother, but ignorantly referred to Advent, Christmastide, Lent, Easter and Pentecost as “Catholic feasts”. As I said, ours is no Catholic family, but she hastened to point out my obvious error: Lent is a time of fast not feast.

Still, whatever the religious seasons and celebrations are or aren’t, I think that the existence of Ordinary Time – and the fact that it ends today – rather suggests there is an error in my mother’s earlier assertion that there are no more special days until Christmas.


The widow’s walk

In comfy carpet shoes she creeps:
toe to heel, toe to heel
bob and reel and cross.

She dreams of Sir Roger, and Morris
the dashing white sergeant, but quicksteps
are a memory; the whirl of life today
leaves her standing.

She slipper shuffles down the street:
toe to heel, toe to heel
dip and turn and cross.

There are no “excuse-me”s
as the youths skate by, their modern lives
all stomp and strut and jive;
she can’t keep pace.

She taps and sways her soft-sole way:
toe to heel, toe to heel
trip and twist and cross.

cardo : thistle

Author: don't confuse the narrator

Exploring the boundary between writer and narrator through first person poetry, prose and opinion

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