To Sir Paul McCartney, with Love…

Let’s talk Paul McCartney. Impressive figure in my life. Looming large and brilliant. Paul has done more for me, than any other composer next to, Beethoven. Heady words, wouldn’t one say? Ah, but they are not an exaggeration.

You see, Beatles heart-throb Paul, was who rocked my lyrical, musical soul for the first time in my young, pre— pre-teen life. There was a poster of the band placed oh so prominently, above my bed. The same bed where I would wait anxiously for my dad to come in and brush his scratchy whiskered face across my cheek as he kissed me good night. Those were the males who festooned my childhood world. I loved them all. My father was a god to me. His presence was magnetic. The Beatles were idols, for sure. But Paul, well, he was my very first crush.

Like so many young girls my age, being in grade school was still a time of delightful innocence. I’m talking still living in a fantasy realm of pretending we were galloping horses with our long pony tails being just that, ponies’ tails. We filled our brains with ideas from Scott O’Dell’s “Island of the Blue Dolphins”, the multi-authored Nancy Drew series, and tantalizing images from Alfred Hitchcock’s short stories. It was a young girlhood just ripe for something phenomenal to awash it with dazzling handsomeness, English accent and pulsing beat.

When 1964 rolled around, we were ready to be bowled over, and America was. The Fab Four were just “pinch their cheeks” adorable coming down-step off their plane all the way from across The Pond. To see their cheerful, “cheeky”, effervescent attitude was an uplift and enticement at the same time. When my “with-it” parents allowed us to sit around the television and watch the Ed Sullivan Show introduce this British band to Our Country, my own sphere of existence changed. Of course, the views of the audience packed with screaming girls did much to further the happy hysteria into the living rooms across the country. I don’t remember screaming— just watching, listening and definitely bobbing up and down on my knees in time to the driving melody of “I Wanna Hold Your Hand”. Our female minds immediately fast-forwarded to school dances and us waiting for one of these English blokes to walk across the gym and pull us up off our chair and onto the dance floor. All of these dapper gents were easy on the eyes, but Paul, well, I spotted something extra alluring.

I didn’t realize it then, but I do now. Paul had a gleam in his eyes and an impish smirk on his face almost constantly. He had something underfoot, surely! Was it a frog in his pocket to release into the audience? No— way too old-fashioned. More like a pack of cigs in his back-pocket to sneakily hand a girl in the corridor. In other words, despite his squeaky clean appearance, he had a tad bit of the diabolical behind that cocky carefree hair-toss. I just knew he was beyond fun…he was an advertisement for adventure. If ever I had been in his company, he might have thrown down that raincoat over a puddle in the grass for ME to step on, but then he would have thrown me backward and zoomed in for a kiss–or so I wished!

Here’s the thing- I was still in elementary school! I wasn’t supposed to be thinking of such things! I was supposed to be clapping the chalk out of my teacher’s erasers and running AWAY from the boys. But, from the fated 1964 day the Beatles swept America by storm, my tumultuous “tornadoed” heart was whipped into life-long, pleasant though often wild, frenetics.

Whether he realized it or not, Paul McCartney set the marker for any great love in my life. Had to be cute as all heck, (I know, I know, vapid was I), and had to be very musical. Just about anyone who ever stole my heart had something to do with music. Even more measurable, was that the “Love to Be” must have an articulate nature. There is simply nothing fun about a person who can’t carry on a buoyant banter. Thank goodness such male company found their way into my life and I have to say I have had some truly colorful characters to sit back and think about in hindsight.

McCartney was and still is McMarvelous! Our generation took every word from every lyric to heart. We poured over the songs and dissected their meanings, We lay upstairs in our bedrooms sometimes with best buds by our side, staring at the album covers, reading the printed lyrics, discussing them at great length. For us, it wasn’t book clubs first, it was album reading clubs. My friends and I hung on to every word and to us, Mccartney was our Shakespeare. Sure they were simple themes. Mostly about sweethearts and forlorn thought. Generally about how and what one loved about another. Never selfish. Never angry. Never mean-spirited. The words of the Beatles rang celebratory bells; chiming cheers for youth and love! A good number of the Beatles’s lyrics were written together by Paul and John. George wrote some great stuff, too. Even Ringo. The melodies were more often than not, a collaboration. I don’t need to give you a Beatles’ 101 lesson, I’m certain of that. What I need to tell you is that the innocent happiness with which a fair amount of Paul’s lyrics contain did a fine job of bolstering that positive spirit in all of us.

Much speculation goes on about how the Beatles became such a phenomenon. My opinion is this; because there was so much strife and controversy ensuing during the year’s of the Beatles’ reign, their youthful spirit spoke to us. The Cold War, The Vietnam War, The Civil Rights Movement, the tragic politics, all weighted heavily on this nation. As children, often we were shielded from these worries, but not completely. From McCartney’s songs, and so many of the band’s songs, we could still celebrate childhood and the particular feelings that accompany it. As the folk song movement trudged along often shackling conscience to the core, the Beatles had us afloat, sailing along, relishing sea and sky, friends and loves, magic and mystery. We were allowed to still wallow a bit longer in fetterless juvenescense. This quality inherent in Paul’s writing taught us to hunt for the positive, and to find the silver lining behind any cloud. We were never taught to think how to do harm or ill will. Never.

Of course the songs progressed with time and the composer’s own personal progression. We all know about the visits with Maher Baba and thus writing songs that had been influenced by self-realization. Again, McCartney took from it, what was, to promoting  kindness and sincerity. We hear this in his songs, even in lyrics that seem so simple. But, reading and learning his songs we learned to read them as if they were proverbial. I loved that freedom of thought, that openness to interpretation, that allowance of individual perspective. To this day I feel McCartney, Lennon, Harrison and Starr did so much to feed my soul and help me grow as a person through their song writing.

Awhile after the Beatles’ “Let It Be” Album came out, I was readying for college. It was in college when I began to listen to “Wings”, McCartney’s own band. From this body of music I extracted an even deeper affinity for the pensive, for the sentimental and for the hopeful. I believe these passion-induced lines of thought still course through my veins in any endeavor I care strongly about. I know I became a good parent and teacher because of these characteristic ways of looking at life. Favorite songs from McCartney’s band such as “Band On the Run”, “Bluebird”, and “Jet” were just the beginning for his continued song-writing and performing. This was a transitioning time for the Beatles who had dissolved as a group but were shining in their own corners, trying out new ideas. What a great example for any young adult to know that nothing stays the same, and yet, so much is connected forever, no matter what. That connection is the Good.

We could interpret for hours the many faceted eras and genres of music the Beatles and McCartney explored. It was an ingenious melding of technique and music styles…rock n roll, classical, jazz, Eastern and maybe a tiny amount of folk. Off the top of my head, the songs I really love to this day are “The Long and Winding Road”, “Yesterday”, “Norwegian Wood”, “Here Comes the Sun” both which George Harrison wrote, and “Hey Jude”, “Twist and Shout”, “I Wanna Hold Your Hand”…..oh heck, I love them all!

The thing that stands out though, about Paul McCartney, is that he is like the “Energizer Bunny” of the group. He is still hanging in, still playing music, still keeping the dream alive. He kept on playing not only bass, but lead guitar sometimes, acoustic guitar, keyboard, piano and whatever! Ringo is too, and he deserves every bit of credit for all his contributions and continued performances. I just have that affinity for that darling Paul who collaborated with Lennon, Harrison and Starr to make it big in England, and when he was just 22, came to America with his mates and literally rocked our world. When interviewed, Paul seemed the most upbeat, truthful and forthcoming. His demeanor was lovable. He was sheer joy. He gave us sheer joy. He taught us there was no shame in begging for: “Love Me Do”.

“Bearly” Necessary

Okay. I’m as nature loving as the rest of the guys. This is true so much so that I really do have a strong affinity for any kind of sheep~and believe me, there are many. What’s not to love? They are big warm fluffs of woolen curls. They have cute little hooves at the end of spindly legs which are sometimes black, sometimes white. The most sheep do is provide yarn for sweaters and blankets, coats and rugs. They are even cooperative little creatures who try to not be the boss and just follow one of their own, who is often undecided himself. They bleat a lot and test out one strong bla-a-a-t once in awhile, just to make sure others are listening. But, I have never seen sheep aggressively bite each other, an adult, child or creature. They are just peaceful walking clumps of clouds that only want a good green meal and a huddle afterwards. People can depend on them to help mathematically induce sleep as they are made subjects of mental fence hopping activity. Every spring, lambs are a living testament to childhood bliss as they are caught on camera frolicking and jumping about in gleeful, yet non-athletic manner. I mean, all their flipping and hydroplaning up in the air looks purely unintended, as having been the mere reactionary result of jovial thought in their sheeply brains. Similar to children, they run on impulse and it is a joy to see. The almost too sad to mention detail, if I must be thorough, is the truth that young sheep make delicious lamb chops….but let’s not go there.

Now, judging from the title of this writing, you might think I forgot my focus. I didn’t. The point is, from childhood, through to adulthood, I’ve always loved sheep. (It began with a memorable painting of Jesus and his flock displayed on the wall in my Sunday School classroom.) But, unbeknownst to most friends of mine, I really like bears, too! When thinking of bears, a plethora of ideas are conjured up immediately. I first think of the famous bears in fairy-tales; such as the old European fairytale of “Snow White and Rose Red” or of course, “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”. There are wonderful modern, American stories telling of fantastical bears doing fantastical things.”Beady Bear” who goes “where bears are s’posed to” and with pillow, newspaper and flashlight, reads in a close-by cave until his wind-up key stops. Or the “Berlioz Bears” who are a small orchestral band that travels from mountain village to mountain village ending up with a buzzing bee in the string base viol. An abundance of children’s stories are centered around a bear as a main character…such as “Winnie the Pooh”, “Corduroy” or Else Minarik’s “Little Bear”. It seems childhood and toy bears go hand in hand.

Easiest to discuss are the bears every child would love to cuddle and sleep with at night. These stuffed toy bears seem to have a human-like face, and therefore children perhaps feel less lonely hugging one as they drift off to their dreams. I prefer the clever stuffed bears that might depict a gentleman with his walking stick, or the polar bear who has tartan-sewn pockets and paws. The remarkable German Steiff bears certainly are not soft and fluffy to hold, but, they give me notice when I spot them on a shelf in a home or at a collectors’ fair. Such bears also carry that human depiction in their standup stance and ways they sit erect and alert.  I suppose my fascination is with this creative portrayal of personification. I don’t collect teddy bears, though I might give them as gifts. The only stuffed animal bear I truly have personally owned was the one who had a place of prominence in my classroom. It was a lumbering brown bear resembling exactly the figure of the bear on the California flag. It was placed atop my file cabinet in the front of the room next to the old-fashioned hand crank pencil sharpener. My students enjoyed hugging him whenever they could. Another bear I kept for a goodly time, was the hand-carved wooden brown bear my own father made. It is rightfully with my mother, now. With a brown bear on the state flag and children’s literature brimming with bears it is obvious they are an animal that is much admired. Ironically, no more real brown bears live in California. Instead, we seem to have a population of 35,000 black bears! And boy, don’t I know it!

Here’s the thing…the Grizzly is the bear on the California banner. It is extinct in our state, but it represents brown bears. This is because brown bears come in a variety of fur color…red, blond, brown and black. There are even some white furred brown bears! The Grizzly is a brown bear and still exists in Europe. Our hunters in California decimated the Grizzly which tended, in folklore at least, to be the strongest and meanest of all the bears. However, the black bear seems to be the bear that has survived the pages of  California history.

I am not surprised at all! Forest fires are a prevalent occurrence in our state. In recent years, it seems more fires more than ever before must be battled and won. Due to necessary vegetation being burned year after year, the black bears are constantly on the prowl for food. Urban sprawl has done quite a dis-service to these indigenous animals. Once this was their land for the ruling; now mankind has his bootsteps down, and rolled his tractor tires all over the place. Progress for people, demise for bears. Thus, every summer, the black bears in California who have managed to find a decent place of hibernation, awake with grumbly tummies and begin their search.

Along with this dire ritual of nature, come the barrage of “bearly believable” news reports and internet blogs. Reporters and innocent standby citizens alike catch the black bears in the throes of endeavor. Especially in the outskirt communities of the San Gabriel Mountain foothills, stories emerge as the summer progresses. One thing for sure, the bears go with hunger. They eat almost anything…insects, berries, pet food, trash and  even roadkill. They are not particular. If its edible, will consume. This is why our only chance of encounter used to be in the mountains when camping. The bears were still in their habitat, and we were the intruders. Thus, our campsites needed to be scoured from top to bottom, and made devoid of any visible bits of food…crumbs to chicken bones. Campers adopted the survival tactic of hanging food from tall limbs wrapped and sealed. An even better protection was to lock food in padlocked, galvanized, metal trash bins. Bedding down for the night meant washing away any trace of that last campfire S’more and the toothpaste you used afterward. For you see, bears will eat whatever is necessary to fill their stomachs. In the middle of the night, they would sniff about stealthily, scoping out their next appetizer. Some bears proved to be positively ravenous. Entire car doors or trunk lids were found ripped off, and the contents shredded by the beastly claws. The fury was unfathomable and purely frightening!

Presently, the tables have turned. With the onset of ‘fire season”, black bears know where to attain their next meal far more quickly. They know to go into the border communities at the base of their region for their best chance. Unfortunately, the residents living in these homes which they might have owned for generations, are threatened…even in the daytime. As I said, the bears are super hungry. I cannot fathom the accountings of what bears have been doing lately! They boldly take a dip in backyard swimming pools. I guess they are bothered by the excess heat, as well! Additionally, they have learned to be brazenly observant. Peering into windows, many times standing upright on two legs —as if they are a person outside the house, bears become sleuths for sandwiches. Once they see edible items, they break open windows and doors to get to their target. I read last night that a bear saw a loaf of bread on a kitchen counter and broke inside to get it. We know they are omnivores, too. Pets left outside become entrees, unfortunately. It is a matter of survival for bears to eat whatever is in their path. Perhaps with the advent of bears intruding on us, instead of vice versa, a regular smorgasbord has been available for the taking and thus ensuring the continuance of the species.

It is not unusual for the sightings of bears to shock and amaze people. My own sister’s son drove home once, to find a bear sleeping up in a tree at the base of their driveway. It was snoring away, no doubt savoring in slumber his newly attained feast. Just recently, a bear was caught roaming a downtown Los Angeles apartment complex. That really stood my own hairs up on end. Perhaps I had best keep my windows slammed shut every night even, in the summer. Truly, the most stunning of all -is the story of the bear who decided to hang out with the throng at the Metrolink station. Was he planning to take a train to Timbuktu? That! takes the cake…or I guess he did.

Bears are in “Necessity Mode” right now. Too much acreage has burned from last year’s fires, and these California natives need their sustenance. Once in awhile, a telling of what appears to be a Tall Tale will occur. But, with video on cell phones such an easy accomplishment now, the soon to be legendary exploits of these fascinating creatures can be visually documented. I love the one of late which shows a child of five standing safely behind clear glass at a zoo museum. He is playing “jump like me” with the bear cub his same height, which is on the other side of the see-through wall. It was reported this “playtime” ensued for ten minutes! Other videos capture bears traipsing about neighborhoods, swinging in hammocks, balancing rounded objects on their noses, crawling through abandoned drain pipes, and my favorite: crawling up into a bird feeder and partaking of the birdseed in there. Caution must never be forgotten, though. Documented on video, a bear used his brute force and sharp claws to puncture open a car window to get to whatever edible foodstuff was visible. Another used one hand to overturn an entire metal trash shed to get to the food in plastic tubs stored underneath. The swipe of that one hand is all it took. Therefore, people need to be on the alert from now on.

Mighty bears are just as curious wherever they are; and as curious as we are intrigued about them. The bears are not following nocturnal patterns. They are making their rounds in broad daylight. The populace in Southern California  had better heed these facts and be prepared for anything. As much as I get a kick out of the human-like behavior bears tend to mimic, they are indeed, wild animals. They are strong. They are ferocious. And they are scouting out their next banquet. It’s a “Bear” necessity we need to respect.

Thank goodness sheep are sheepish. But bears are not.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love

Love.

This word we tend to throw around in every which way.

Cavalier tossing out in order to spark the embers of spirit in someone or something.

People say they love the weather. Their fancy may be the robin’s egg blue of sky. Others love the steely-gray coolness that portends mystery. Or pensive peace.

Often, it’s food which is given the trophy label of love. “I love chocolate”, many, MANY say. Children love popsicles and everyone seems to love ice cream. We ALL scream for Ice cream!

But, is it doing a dis-service to the real thing that is LOVE, by using it so frequently? Is the specialness of love lessened because we use it every day in a most common way? Because multitudes of humans utilize the word LOVE to describe their favorite snazzy car, beautiful horse, triumphant symphony, or rosy scent, it might just be possible to cheapen that specialness which we equate with the word LOVE.

You know…? Hmmm, maybe I don’t think so. Love is a TREMENDOUS word because it IS quite pervasive. If, THAT many people think something or someone is what or whom they love, then LOVE is quite a powerful entity.

The main thing is, mean it when you say you LOVE something, Or someone. One must be honest with the word love. It’s a royal word. It commands respect. The use of the term said in haste and as a filler for thought, rather than time being taken to think through the detailed communication, is almost….sacrilegious.

The treatment of Love should be done with kid gloves. Handle it with genteel regard. People may still say they LOVE books, but, perhaps they ought to support that statement by demonstration. If you do love kittens, dogs, ducks, chickens; then by all means show by example. Cuddle and care goes a long way.

Those who espouse their love for this planet, ought to be the salient stewards of her, standing sentry in poised and active protection. Claim you love Mother Earth? Then, show it profusely, by recycling, cleansing, beautifying, even healing our Mother Home. Be the finest examples of taking care of all her nuances…the teeniest of bugs to the grand soaring eagle. Revere her rivers, streams, lakes and oceans. Long may they flow freely with current, wave and tide. Succumb to the atmosphere. You cannot win the behemoth struggle between man and nature. There is a reason why the ancient, Biblical meaning for Love is the word Fear.

Love. A feeling, an action and a dream come true. There is a plethora of descriptives for the term love. We even name the person we love, our Love. LOVE is the best of the best. It is holding opulent esteem. I told you it was a regal thing! Poets say love is golden. There are even keys to our love. Does this mean LOVE is so valuable it has to be kept safe?

Why, yes.

The careless use can only lead to emptiness, misery and disappointment. Whatever is the fixation of your lovingness, such a thing or individual needs your truest self. Be not a fake. Be not a wasteful sort. Be not heartless in response and action. Utterance of omnipotent words such as LOVE must be unshackled by hidden evils. Greed, jealousy, disdain, pettiness. How could you? How could anyone? Oh, you’d be surprised by the invisible line between Love and Hate. And just as importantly, please do not throw it around with plasticized passion. This will not do. It is wrong. You can love a tree, but seriously, can you really love the corner cafe? Come on. You may like it for its fine dining and lively atmosphere, but it does not deserve your Love. I’m just sayin’.

 

Love is the essence omniscient.

Know the target of your LOVE when you declare it.

And then: LOVE.