It seems remiss in the extreme that I wrote nothing on All Saints Day, of all days. The following are my excuses, though there are no excuses.
Here are my son and his beloved, heading off into the night on the Eve of All Saints, looking their best.
Masks are wonderful things, it is true, but we stayed home and labeled honey jars, because Saturday we took Let it Bee Local Honey to the Farmers Market. (Have you ever been tempted to procure a supply of one-dollar bills at your local supermarket? I did, and the woman behind me in line said, “You must be either playing cards tonight or going to see a male stripper.” I would like to report that I said of course it was the latter.)
The following day, being All Souls’ Day, we visited a private menagerie. Somewhere in the upper reaches of Westchester County there is an estate (open to the public once a year) where for reasons unknown the vastly wealthy owners have collected an assortment of exotic animals. There were several camels, one with a severely misshapen & lopsided hump, listing dangerously off to one side. The ever-observant grandchild noted that camels have ‘stinky breath and ugly teeth’. Perhaps the most disturbing animal was the albino kangaroo. This is a real animal and it looks extremely unhappy. Although it does hop.
Capybaras are the world’s largest rodents. This fact was mentioned somewhere in an early story of mine, and to this day it is the only thing about that story my mother and sister remember. I am grateful they remember anything at all. Capybaras are native to South America, and not northern Westchester. You would not keep one on account of its good looks.
Flimsy excuses indeed.
Especially when you consider that yesterday was the feast of Saint Winifred who, while not technically a true cephalophore, deserves mention in their ranks. A devout virgin (they are always devout virgins) she was cruelly beheaded by the spurned Caradog. But along came her uncle, Saint Beuno, who took up her severed head, replaced it on her neck, where it instantly reattached itself. Meanwhile, the spot in the stream where her head fell was stained red, and has remained so to this day. You can visit her shrine at Holywell in Wales, dip your fingers in the water, and buy many souvenirs in the adjoining gift shop.
Then there is Blessed Ida of Toggenburg, of whom Alban Butler says: “This fictitious romance is a story of innocence maligned and patiently suffering undeserved punishment.” She was the absolutely faithful wife to a seriously bad-tempered husband, Count Henry of Toggenburg. One day an Italian in their household, Dominic, made a pass at the lovely Ida and was rejected. This vengeful Dominic then went to Count Henry and accused Ida of having improper relations with her servant. Meanwhile, a ring of Ida’s that had been lost was found by a magpie, carried off to its nest, and then found by the servant in question. He slipped it on his finger. When Count Henry saw the ring on the servant’s finger, he recognized it at once as his wife’s, and flew into a rage. He rushed off and defenestrated his wife from a high tower.
You get the idea.
And just one more to tax your credulity. Saint Rumwold was born to the King and Queen of Northumbria in the seventh century. He was immediately baptized, preached a sermon, and then died when only three-days old.