Thursday, December 5, 2013
The Three Hapangueros
Of mice and men: well, our fates continue to entwine. Two more brave soldiers felled by Agent Peanut Butter on Monday night; this morning, two more micro-bombs in the fork bay!
O why must this senseless war go on? Why can't we all just get along? (Get along, little mousies, get along...)
Meanwhile, the daily quest for advent-worthy revelations continues. Yesterday, Dec. 3, I thought I had it neatly bound in the hour between four and five pm, a circular window. Last week I had written "I wish I didn't like 2 to 3 better than 4 to 5," meaning the rising dark of forsaken opportunities between sundown and night, which is four to five nowadays. (I changed it to 5–6 in the post, but I knew what I meant.)
So I decided to go out and try to befriend the hour: a walk to Spy Pond, with salmon wisps in the western sky resolving to yellow along the horizon as the daylight continued to ebb. Not so bad, a kind of detente as evening slid in, or rather appeared from within, since it had been there all the time behind the tinted sky, and was only revealed now by the disinterest of the sun. I went into a bookstore and when I came out the forenight still held a spoonful of evening light and Jupiter rode in it like the daring young man on the flying trapeze. All the manmade lights were doing a kind of tribute to the sun, the moon, and the stars. It all hung together.
But the menorah candles stole the honors a few hours later. They were down to the last three lit stubs of waning wax and they weren't long for it. I should mention that this is a small bronze menorah that takes the form of eight shtetl musicians bearing drum, fiddle, sax, cello, tuba, clarinet, tambourine, and mandolin; and the ninth musician, the shamash, just seems to be dancing.
Meanwhile I was listening to an online interview with Linda Ronstadt, and they were playing one of her songs from Canciones de mi padre, called "Rogociano el Hapanguero," a sad song, delivered in that pleading, heartfelt way that Ronstadt has, about a certain wandering troubadour who has died and will never again come by singing his hapangos.
Anyway, in the middle of this sad cancione, the last three menorah musicians—or their candles—gave up the ghost, more or less at the same time. And it was so beautiful: the tall twining tendrils of smoke, drawing pale shifting lines, each with a wick-ember still glowing, one by one each smoke ribbon narrowing to a string that seemed to pay out endlessly, like a fakir's rope, rising and twisting and climbing like a living thing, all to the plaintive threnody of "Rogociano el Hapanguero,"about another musician who gave up the ghost; and one by one, they finished writing their cryptic snake-dancing inscriptions and signed off, the three klezmer hapangueros of Hanukkah.
It was amazing, some kind of miraculous agreement of music, smoke, and two cultures, and a worthy winner of the advent hunt for 12/3.
I'll get to today's revelation tomorrow.