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Jun 28
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A Midsummer Night’s Donkey

Ladder-ball practice at Karme Choling

Ladder-ball practice at Karme Choling

Celebrating the Beginning of Summer

Shambhala Centers and communities around the world celebrated the beginning of summer this last week with Midsummer Day. This sampling of stories and photos from around the mandala represents just a few of the events. Want to share your story? Email us!

Click here to read stories from:
Casa Werma in Patzcuaro, Mexico
Fredericton, New Brunswick
Atlanta and Boston Shambhala Centers
Halifax Shambhala, Nova Scotia

See below for the story from Karme Choling…

Karme Choling presents: A Midsummer Night’s Donkey
article by Aaron Delong, Gardener at Karme Choling
photos by Lori Dietrich

Karme Choling staff and friends enjoying the afternoon

Karme Choling staff and friends enjoying the afternoon

Down by a bend in the Stevens River is a campground owned by our Head of Housekeeping. Campers are parked beneath pines and grills are parked beside campers and a sloping sand bank lets onto a beach of cobble skipping stones. When things got slow at the Midsummer Day gathering, people would stand at the water’s edge and try to skip the stones across the pool at the bend. Only the palmreader went in the water. “It’s the closest thing to weightlessness,” she explained, describing her love for swimming and floating and being immersed. Up on the grass, between the campers, air infused by barbeque activity, pairs of people tossed strung-together golf balls through the air at makeshift PVC ladders. They were engaged in a ladder-ball tournament, a sport known, in some circles, as donkey-balls.

Batman on the beach

It was Midsummer’s Day; the air crackled with thunder. Cadyn, the 5-year old birthday boy and grandson of the picnic’s host, ran around with a whistling tube in his hand, from ladder-ball to stone-skipping to chasing a man in a Batman comics Joker costume. The little boy circled and bisected the crowd at the grill, on the lawn, on the beach, a humming bumblebee sprite charged with the energy of the gathering, the celebration, the competition.

Ladder-ball. We’d been playing it for months. For some of us, it’d become a practice, going out after lunch, after supper, in the spaces between darkness and work, engaging in a game the Karme Choling Director of Development had built with his own two hands. He and his wife were a dynamic duo, a force to be reckoned with, and when our paths crossed in the semi-finals it was only by devious, trash-talking psychological tactics that my partner and I were able to prevail.

Rusung Pablo Coddou and Director of Development Scott Robbins participating in the semi-finals

Rusung Pablo Coddou and Director of Development Scott Robbins participating in the semi-finals

We advanced to the finals. The crowds of the dinner hour thinned away, along with the thunderheads that had passed over earlier, and the summer evening transcended to a live gold in the trees, the sky somehow both violet and forget-me-not blue at once, the way that the world at dusk and dawn seems to hold multiple colors in the same space, objects one hue, the air something different, a wavelength not wholly perceived by the eyes but, rather, intuited, felt, beside the green of the leaf, the copper of the river bottom, the white of her skin against her dark, primrose dress. The magic time. Our host had advanced to the finals as well, along with her partner, the head of the Karme Choling kitchen. At stake was nothing too serious, just a handcrafted, papier-mache, golden donkey named Walter. There was a contingent that wanted to burn him, the golden donkey, in a sort of ceremonial act reminiscent of the burning men of the American Southwest. I was among them. But our host, Sandra, the head of housekeeping, wanted to preserve Walter. She wanted to save him, to bring him to Karme Choling, to integrate him into the community. The match ensued. It wasn’t close. Sandra lost and so, we gave her the donkey.

Presentation of Walter the donkey

Presentation of Walter the donkey

We pulled our cars down the gravel drive to the beach. We packed away the picnic in the gathering dark. We broke open the last piñatas, took one last turn on the spring-loaded seesaw, ate one last piece of strawberry chocolate marble cake (against all our own better judgment). Then we went home.

Now the days shorten, lick a wick clipped one little bit each morning and night. Now we head on towards the fall…but, oh, what a joy! These lengthening summer nights – when we can gather together in the purpling dusk, play games and laugh, dance with sparklers in our hands and celebrate the coming and going, the passage of a river flowing quietly round the bend.

For a full glimpse of the gallery, click on any photo below:

~~
Click here to read stories from:
Casa Werma in Patzcuaro, Mexico
Fredericton, New Brunswick
Atlanta and Boston Shambhala Centers
Halifax Shambhala, Nova Scotia

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1 response to “ A Midsummer Night’s Donkey ”
  1. I personally feel that the donkey is a fitting award for such an important contest and the name shows very good taste, is an EXCELLENT name and very proper, dignified and is generally a VERY good name.

    … just saying


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