Those trees in blossom brought to mind A's 21st birthday party a couple of Saturdays ago. Her father's house was filled to the brim with lovely young things - fresh faces, bare arms and shoulders, shiny hair, sweet frocks and dizzy shoes. Here's the birthday girl, photographed by Steve Payne http://gobsmackedinnewzealand.blogspot.com/
It reminded me of a wedding I attended in Morelia, Mexico, 10 years ago. It was held at a country venue, the guests seated under a vast awning out of the harsh sun. The bride and groom were the centre of fond attention, but the real stars were a bevvy of young unmarried women in long brightly coloured dresses. The couple were loved and congratulated, but these blooming girls were regarded with unadulterated joy. The occasion was at least as much a celebration of their youth and beauty as it was of a marriage.
A few nights before the wedding the X and I were taken to The Hummingbird Club. Its speciality was the traditional Morelian dance you can see here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJAw0e5Wfw0&feature=related
The men hobbled on in a crocodile, leaning heavily on sticks, a hand on the shoulder in front, wearing gruesome old-men masks. They stumped around like this for some time then suddenly whirled into the clog-clacking dance you can see on the clip. Eventually, they tottered offstage the way they had entered.
Mexicans don't shy away from age and death, which means they don't glorify and, therefore, resent, youth. They rejoice in it, their pleasure heightened by knowing how fleeting it is. Seeing a beautiful young woman is like catching a tree in blossom. You only get so many in the course of a life.
A sestina on housing
2 weeks ago