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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Signs of Spring and the Costume Fair

It must be spring.  The leaves are falling.  Yes, around here live oaks drop their leaves in the spring, not the fall.  I don’t know why.  But every year about this time, the leaves come drifting down by the dozens.  They pile up on the lawn, they litter the pond, they blow onto the patio.  They stick to our shoes and clothes and dogs and get tracked into the house.  Which is why first thing this morning I was on the patio, broom in hand, sweeping leaves. 

I don’t mind sweeping.  It’s one of those mindless activities that’s strangely relaxing, but only when done outdoors.  In the house, sweeping is housework.  Outside the house, it is therapy.  If you think about it, sweeping is one of those chores that hasn’t really changed over the years.  Even the broom has not changed much.  You still grab a wooden handle with straws on the end and sweep with it.  Women have been doing this for centuries.  After the coffee or tea and porridge comes the sweeping of the floors.  Like all those women from the past, I was sweeping, thinking, planning my day just as they probably did.  And it's nice to start the day having accomplished one small, useful thing, however humble.   

I mentioned yesterday that Dahlal Internationale, the belly dance costume importer, was in town and showing their wares at the dance studio.  Of course, I went to check it out.  The atmosphere was festive in the tiny studio.  There were costumes, scarves, coin belts, and other stuff spread all over the floor and hanging from the barre.  Middle Eastern music played in the background as the women shopped, tried on, scrutinized themselves in the wall of mirrors, and offered opinions and advice. 

My objective was to get a simple costume; I already have a fancy over-the-top costume (see photos posted yesterday).  But of course everything that caught my eye was gorgeous and expensive.  I couldn’t resist trying on an aqua confection with swooping gold embellishments all over it.  It fit the criteria for a Must-Buy as far as belly dance costumes from Dahlah go:  I liked it and it was my size.  You better buy it when you find it, because you won’t see it again, except maybe on someone else.  Nevertheless, I put it back on the hanger, along with all its accessories (big floaty scarf, gauntlets, head wrap).  I stuck with my plan and left with a simple unadorned skirt and top.  I say unadorned, but the fabric is a sparkly, metallic gold.  Nevertheless, it is practical, and I can mix and match it with other pieces. 

I haven’t been to a class in a few days because of the vendor in the studio, so tonight I’m taking two classes, one right after the other.  The first is a beginner class, and the second is a beginning intermediate class, more challenging, but not quite intermediate level.  I have fortified myself with a cup of coffee, but still I’m not sure whether I have the stamina to do two classes in a row.  You wouldn’t think so, but belly dancing is quite a workout.  This surprised me when I first started.  I mean, you hardly move from one spot on the floor.  You might walk 3 steps one way and 3 steps back, but that’s it as far as actual traveling.  But by the end of a class, I am panting for air.  So we’ll see how it goes tonight.  I hope I can do it, because I’d like to cut back on my trips into town as well.  Especially since gas prices seem to be creeping up.  It’s a 60-mile round-trip to the studio from our house.  I’m usually driving the Urban Assault Vehicle, which is a 1998 black Suburban with a lift kit, big tires, and over 220,000 miles on it.  It gets maybe 13 miles per gallon.  But we still have it because we probably couldn’t give it away at this point, and it’s still a good car. 

In spite of the distance, I do enjoy going “downtown.”  The studio is in an older but well-maintained residential neighborhood on Mulberry Street.  The houses are frame cottages with front porches.  Two of my great-aunts used to live in one of those houses.  They were spinsters who lived together most of their lives.  My great-aunt Carrie was a schoolteacher, and great-aunt Kate had some kind of mental affliction, so Carrie took care of her.  I think they both lived into their eighties, but they were gone by the time I was born.  I don’t know which house was theirs, so when I drive down Mulberry Street I look at them and wonder.  It’s just as likely that their house was razed when they built Highway 281, which cuts Mulberry in half.  Recently I found an old photo that shows the porch of their house.  I keep forgetting to get it out again and try to match the porch columns in the photo with those of the houses I drive by so often. 

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