This year my daughter is in 9th grade, and at her school it is, according to custom, the 9th grade girls who, garbed in long gowns and flower crowns, will tame the fierce dragon at the school’s Michaelmas festival this week. In honor of this event, I made for the first time a bread maiden to accompany our dragon bread. Perhaps it will become a new household tradition.
If you would like to make your own, here is the recipe I use (on last September’s post). I used 1-1/2 times the recipe for the two figures, which are about 14″ high. Happy Michaelmas, everyone!
For the autumn equinox today, a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins, and a painting.
Márgarét, are you gríeving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leáves líke the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Áh! ás the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you will weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sórrow’s spríngs áre the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It ís the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.
—Gerard Manley Hopkins
On this anniversary of September 11th, an illustration from The Survivor Tree, by Cheryl Aubin.
Our household isn’t Jewish, but who can resist the triple attraction of challah, honey-dipped apples, and the seasonal call to work hard at becoming a better person? This year I attempted to follow Smitten Kitchen’s nice clear instructions for braiding the lovely six-strand loaf; however, mine still turned out disappointingly non-round…But my family ate it anyway. L’Shanah Tovah!
My child and I hold hands on the way to school,
And when I leave him at the first-grade door
He cries a little but is brave; he does
Let go. My selfish tears remind me how
I cried before that door a life ago.
I may have had a hard time letting go.
Each fall the children must endure together
What every child also endures alone:
Learning the alphabet, the integers,
Three dozen bits and pieces of a stuff
So arbitrary, so peremptory,
That worlds invisible and visible
Bow down before it, as in Joseph’s dream
The sheaves bowed down and then the stars bowed down
Before the dreaming of a little boy.
That dream got him such hatred of his brothers
As cost the greater part of life to mend,
And yet great kindness came of it in the end.
A school is where they grind the grain of thought,
And grind the children who must mind the thought.
It may be those two grindings are but one,
As from the alphabet come Shakespeare’s Plays,
As from the integers comes Euler’s Law,
As from the whole, inseparably, the lives,
The shrunken lives that have not been set free
By law or by poetic phantasy.
But may they be. My child has disappeared
Behind the schoolroom door. And should I live
To see his coming forth, a life away,
I know my hope, but do not know its form
Nor hope to know it. May the fathers he finds
Among his teachers have a care of him
More than his father could. How that will look
I do not know, I do not need to know.
Even our tears belong to ritual.
But may great kindness come of it in the end.