A recent post on the Alabama Chanin blog introduced me to Abbie Graham's delightful book Ceremonials of Common Days. This small treasure is out of print, but I was able to borrow a copy through the Five College library system. (Do go read that post, and then have fun drawing up your own Celestial Shopping List.)
The book describes rituals, ceremonials, and rites for the ordinary miracles of life, such as The Ceremonial of Roads, The Day of the First Fruits of My Garden, and Vagabond Rites. "Vagabond rites are not intended for habitual wanderers," Graham says, "but for the people who must needs live behind the conventional walls and regularly pursue official duties. The time for vagabond rites to be observed is whenever life gets too minutely blue-printed and too inescapable." Reminded me of Ringo's "parading" in A Hard Day's Night.
I felt the need for a Vagabond Rite today and chose a road off Route 47 in Sunderland, where I could park near the Connecticut River.
I set out on a Pilgrimage of Grey—grey skies, grey river, grey walls of ancient stone.
Along an unnamed dirt road, I found an abandoned mattress, a warning nailed to a tree, a root that looked like a snake, ferns, moss, streams, and waterfalls.
Back on the main road, my ramble almost over, I heard a car slow down behind me. I looked back and saw an SUV creeping along. I couldn't see who was in the car. Why were they following me? Although I had passed bicyclists and people walking dogs earlier, now there was no one around. The SUV continued to creep along slowly. Then it pulled up next to me. I looked over, my heart beating fast, wondering what would happen next.
Two grey-haired ladies smiled at me. The driver rolled down her window and called out in a friendly voice, "We're looking for wildflowers."
Wildflowers! I almost laughed. They were just fellow vagabonds out on a ceremonial of their own, The Rite of the First Wildflowers.