James A Rutherford Funeral Home
Murmers of Mummering
There's a phrase that stuck and is freely used between my partner and I for each other. It sprung from an accidental slip of a word. When I first used the phrase, I meant to say “Okay, that's weird," but the middle word got dropped somehow and it came out “Okay weird," like I called her weird. So, now we use weird as a noun: like the thing isn't weird – we are! It's one of those “loving things" we say when the other did something particularly silly or we reveal a secret never before mentioned.
Now, not meaning to insult anyone, but I'm almost 100% sure you who are reading this have said or done some silly things or kept some weird secrets in your own lifetime. If you haven't, you're AI and should stop reading this! Darn robots masquerading as human! But this is not about silly things we've done throughout our lives. No. This is about strange coincidences and weird feelings we have in being who we are. A confession of sorts, of the eccentricities we have and never mention.
Have you ever heard of Mummers? Mummers were originally bands of elaborately masked persons who, during winter festivals in Europe, paraded the streets and entered people's houses to dance or play little games. (Probably wouldn't fly today!) It was a popular amusement between the 13th and 16th centuries. If you do know about it, you might have discovered it like I did – through Loreena McKennitts' awesome song “The Mummers' Dance" on her most awesome album The Book of Secrets. Why? Because she's awesome! Point is, under those strange and elaborate costumes and partaking in that weird and wonderful tradition, there were “normal" people doing silly and at least, in the course of their “normal" day – abnormal things. Neighbours that were next door and strait-laced, now dancing in your living room in disguise.
There are things in everyone's life that define them, but they themselves have no idea where this strange feeling or notion, desire or pastime came from. We think it weird too that we have such a strong affinity to something that we have no experience over or history with.
Best example of this for me would be the fact of my complete and utter adoration of Scotland, long before I even set foot upon its tartaned soil. When I hear the bagpipes, I get a lump in my throat the size of a walnut. When I see photographs of its rugged beauty my heart pounds out a few additional beats per minute. And when I finally got there and was standing upon the crest of a hill overlooking one of the many verdant green valleys of the Isle of Skye – I wept like a baby (but without the noise). My wife at the time, who was with me, gazed at me open-mouthed while I stood there silently watering the Heather with my eyes and she exclaimed “you feel like you're home, don't you?" It was all I could do through the emotion to acknowledge the truth of that statement, nodding up and down and up and down like a bobblehead.
Where did this come from?! My parents are from Germany for goodness' sake. My father's name Klaus, my mother's Helga (that should prove where they're from without a doubt), but they gave me Scottish heritage in the legacy of my name. The first name Stuart, middle name Kirk, and last name... well, okay, that doesn't ring true. But hey... I certainly told them numerous times in a tongue-in-cheek way: “Mom, Dad... you got the wrong kid." Although I knew deep down that German food and German traditions at Christmas were not going to be beaten by any other culture – sorry.
One more silly confession I rarely say out loud: I love winter! There… okay… I said it! Summer is my least favourite season! Yes, you heard me! Too hot, too lethargic, too lazy. And while we're at it – I love rainy days! Always have. Give me Scottish weather for most of my year and I'll be fine. Just didn't want to rain on your “it's a beautiful sunny day, isn't it?" parade.
But anyway, I guess what really matters here is that those eccentricities that we have, that we think are strange and perhaps can't be mentioned out loud, could be the best part of us. So, if you find yourself all costumed-up and dancing in someone's living room like a mummer, perhaps that's the time to remove the mask and show them who you are. Harmless. Beautiful. And full of wonder. Okay weird?
UNTIL SOON. LIVE WELL.