My First Beltane (Part 3)

It felt like only a moment later when I awoke in the morning.  My thick night curtains had been drawn back and the early morning light poured through the open window.  A gentle breeze stirs my gauzy white curtains that remained draped over the window.  The birds are singing their songs as I threw the blanket off of me and slide out of bed.  My mother must have already left to gather dew water for the traditional dew washings.  A stench reaches my nose and I know it’s me; I could really use the washing after last night.  The tarnished silver mirror on my wall shows my hair is a nest of twigs and leaves; the lines I had taken my time to draw on my eyes are smeared, creating a raccoon effect around my tired eyes.  I try rubbing at the stubborn black smudges but just make them worse.

Hanging over my wood carved chair was a flowing piece of white fabric that must have been the dress mother wanted me to wear to the dew washings.  I pick it up and hold it before me studying the old beautiful dress.  It was plain with no added embellishments, except for a shiny silk sash that ties around my waist.  Carefully I slip the dress over my head, avoiding touching the pure fabric to my smudged eyes; the fabric whispering to me as it slides over my skin.  The neckline plunges deep so that it shows just how much I’ve matured and lightly brushes the tops of my knees.  I tied the smooth sash around my waist, making me realize just how small of a waist I have.

I leave the house barefoot and follow the flow of people down to the streams where we would all wash in the dew and stream water.  The morning is bright and warm already, the dirt paths wet from the morning dew.  While puffy clouds float lazily in the blue sky, wind stirring the blossoming trees as it passes by.  Blaire was in the crowd and she sneaks up behind me to pounce, scaring me half to death.  She laughs as I let out a surprised yelp when her sudden body weight on my shoulders nearly makes me topple down.  After I get over the initial shock of the scare she and I walk along, chatting about last night.  She too wore a white dress, much shorter than mine with no straps that left her tanned shoulders bare.  It flowed away from her curves, no sash to show what small of a waist she has.

The stream that we arrive at was already crowded, with kids running in and out of the water splashing their friends with the cold stream water.  Adults chatter on land, telling their gossip, or swam in the deeper parts of the stream.  Codi and everyone else are waiting for us and usher us over, their voices giddy and their eyes sparkling from above the bags that sagged beneath.  They all must have been out all night.

We make our way to one of the less busy deep spots, our toes hanging off the edge of the stream bed, and hold hands.  Codi gives us the signal to jump and most of spring up off of the moss that squished beneath our bare feet.  I land in the cold water with a splash.  It was shockingly cold at first, but the shock didn’t last long.  The world around me went silent and my vision blurred as the current moved my body slightly with its motion.  With a kick of my legs I break the water’s surface and take a deep breath of air.  I see some of the girls still standing on the bank, laughing and clapping with delight, and I send water splashing their way with a sweep of my hand until they too join us in the numbing water.

We swim against the gentle current to grab the bowls that had been laid out all along the bank of the stream.  I dip the simple carved wooden bowl under the water and pour it over my head.  With some rubbing, I am able to finally clear away the raccoon eyes and wash away that terrible stench.  The twigs and leaves from my hair loosen and float along with the current until I can no longer see them.

When we finish washing ourselves in the water we walk back to the group, our feet getting covered in grass and mud, to receive the morning dew.  Our dresses and hair dripped water down our legs so that someone could have followed us by the wet path we left.  The village crone, a wrinkly old lady with a kind face, was sprinkling dew over people’s heads and allowing them to take a sip from the wooden bowl she held.  It was my turn and the dew droplets that the crone sprinkled over my head felt warm, and the dew I drank was pleasant and tasted of fresh clover.  Many of the adults who had already received their dew were sprawled out on flat rocks, or in open spaces, basking in the beaming morning light as it warms and dries their wet skin.  We too lie out beneath the sun, soaking up all the warmth it offered.  I’m not sure how long we lay there; it must have been a long time, since the horn that signals the may pole dance rings through the trees.


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