The Korobushka was the first folkdance I learned.  I was in fourth grade.  I had an unusual teacher that year.  Mr. Holabird played the bagpipes.  Along with the third grade teacher, Miss Simpkins, he taught us some folkdances.  We kids were sure they would get married, but they didn’t.


We learned a few more dances that year: the Troika, Miserlou, and maybe the Salty Dog Rag.


In high school, we had a folkdance unit in P.E.  The teacher assigned small groups of us to learn a dance outside of class.  Two of my friends and I learned Ahavat Hadassah from Dani Dassa, the owner of Cafe Dansa on Pico Boulevard in Los Angeles.

By the time I got to U.C. Irvine, I was a hard core folkdancer. Hora Mamtera was my favorite dance.  It was so expansive, so wildly energetic, and took up so much space.

After leaving Irvine, there was a short dead space of dance until I moved to Santa Barbara.  Still a sleepy, seaside town, Santa Barbara was a folkdancer’s heaven.  We danced almost every day of the week.  Tuesday dances were at U.C.S.B.  Wednesday we danced at Oak Park, outdoors on a wooden platform that creaked and groaned under our weight.  On Fridays, the dancers took over the Plaka, a Greek cafe near the beach.  In between the belly dancer and the owner’s table dance, we folkdancers provided free entertainment to the diners.  I stretched out one glass of retsina from 8:00 to past midnight.  It was glorious.

On Sundays, we’d recovered enough to spend the afternoon dancing on the grassy strip along the beach.

Eventually, I joined an amateur Balkan dance troupe, Zdravitsa.  Here’s a version of Daichevo.


This last link above is of Aman, a professional dance troupe out of U.C.L.A. dancing a kopanitsa.  To be a member of Aman was the height of accomplishment.

Today, in my golden years, I’m blessed to be able to keep on dancing, here in New Paltz, N.Y., with a group of seniors as passionate as myself.




What is more hopeful than a house plant?

Yesterday, I saw a slender stem lifting up from our prayer plant.  Sure enough, this morning, one flower had bloomed atop the stem.  fullsizeoutput_20e3

What sort of pollinator could this plant hope to attract, sitting by the sliding door in our house?  A fruit fly?  And yet, it flowered. (And yet, she persists.)

The prayer plant (maranta leuconeura) is native to tropical forests in Brazil.  It prays by folding its leaves at night, like a pair of praying hands.  The red-veined leaves remind me of dragons’ wings.

Persistance or optimism?  To flower in a place so unlike her natural environment seems like hope to me.


The Green Man

L3x6lkXiR4OaxPmfAFfJIQ                                                                                                                    Claremont, California

The Green Man, known as the Leshi in Eastern Europe, is an ancient pre-Christian deity found in many cultures.  In early times, winters were hard and long, the forest spread wide and was often dangerous, and folk revered the Green Man, symbol of rebirth, spring, and new growth.

The Leshi is a character in Book V of the Karakesh Chronicles.  He has the ability to shift his shape from the old man of the forest to a young, attractive fellow.  This youthful Leshi, feeling lusty in the spring, begets a son with—well, I’ll keep that a secret until the book appears in print.

Green Man 3

Take this link for more about the Green Man:


I find it fascinating that hundreds of years later, artists and writers are still creating works depicting the Green Man.  Here are just of the few representations that appealed to me.

greenman in Nuthurst  Green man in UK

Green Man by Toin Adams in Birmingham, Eng

by sculptor Toin Adams, Birmingham, England