Sunday, April 02, 2017

once again, on happiness

I was reminded today that we have entered a month of poetry. I hadn't remembered that April, in addition to bringing good weather, flowers, the farmers market, my birthday, and Earth Day, brings, too, a reverence for poems.

I listened to a discussion of Carl Sandburg's work, especially from the collection "Chicago Poems." It was the tail end of the radio program and so I didn't hear the names of the referenced poems, but I think surely this one must have been read and in any case, you may enjoy it, so I'll reprint it for you:


I asked the professors who teach the meaning of life to tell me what is happiness.
And I went to famous executives who boss the work of thousands of men.
They all shook their heads and gave me a smile as though I was trying to fool with them
And then one Sunday afternoon I wandered out along the Desplaines river
And I saw a crowd of Hungarians under the trees with their women and children and a keg of beer and an accordion.

The radio commenter -- some poetry guru whose name I do not remember -- speculated if, in fact, the kind of happiness Sandburg wrote of is missing these days: the barrels of beer, accordion playing, by the river, with families gathered to enjoy a warm summer evening together. His colleague reflected that he'd seen something similar by the river where he lives, only it wasn't Hungarians but Mexicans and it wasn't an accordion but a guitar. Everything else mimicked the Sandburg scene perfectly.

The first radio guy asked -- is it that the immigrants brought with them this ability to find happiness in this way? Have we lost something in our isolated and cynical view of our world?

Well, I don't know that we lost it. Many of us still think that gatherings of family and friends, where there is food, gaiety, perhaps several generations in the mix, preferably (but not necessarily) outdoors, are right up there in our happiness storage shed. Or am I just speaking now like the immigrant that I am? 

Happiness -- here's one little person's take on it: utter giddiness comes from waking up on a Sunday morning at the farmhouse, bouncing out all smiles and giggles, running to pull out the kiddie tub (because the big shower wont do just yet)...

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Happiness -- having that first bite of breakfast...

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... then soaking in that baby tub (even though you're way past that age), then helping grandma cook up pancakes for a second breakfast -- this one with everyone.

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Yum! Take in every last bit of maple syrup!

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Did you eat all your fruit, ahah?

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Happiness is woven into the outdoors. It's found in believing that one of the chickens will finally let you pet her.

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So close!

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If not, well then you can share a croissant together anyway.

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(While the big black hen sits on her roost and waits for that egg to pop out.)

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The day isn't sunny and we could wish for slightly warmer temperatures I suppose, but I'm stuck on the idea that maybe it's not necessary. As a gentle rain comes down, Ed and I transplant strawberries and fill twenty-eight pots with emerging berry bushes, with the hope that they'll actually gives us the berries, rather than handing them over to all the other animals that live here, on the farmette. Too, we clear the asparagus bed, and dig up weeds that have taken over the flower field by the sheep shed.

Evening comes and I go back to my earlier thoughts about Sandburg's poem. A crowd with their women and children. Food and maybe music. By a river. Or maybe even just around a kitchen table.

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(Stealing mushrooms...)

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(Getting him to read her a story of her choice...)

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Perhaps this is why she loves the polka clips so much... The accordion!