I get to be the first to welcome in spring on behalf of the Michiana Chroniclers. The first sign of spring for me was a couple of weeks ago: Michiana Monologues, produced by the IU South Bend Women’s and Gender Studies Department and Chronicler April Lidinsky. I’m always early in line for the tickets, this year for two performances at very different venues—the little black theater at South Bend Civic—it seats maybe fifty in a semi-circle, has a very avant-garde-ish feel: someplace to try out a staging to read its impact on a small group of friends and maybe file off the rough edges—it’s a bongos and cigarettes, pedal pushers and beads little room. The second show was the see-and-be-seen at the performance space in Northside Hall, with the fund-raising auction to provide more spice for the occasion. Lemme see, I came home with a Mickey Mouse watch and a sewing craft kit for my granddaughter, and a thermos-and-cup set in stainless and leather for those loaf-of-bread-and-jug-of-wine spring bike rides. I always came home with a deeper appreciation for the trials and joys of being a girl and a woman. That’s what this show is about. Oh how I wish there had been something like this when I was growing up! How could I/you/we men see this show without growing in solidarity and compassion for that other half of the human race that we men keep trying to misunderstand and abuse. Yeah, it’s about mutual support among women, but I would have been a lot better lover, in the most expansive sense of the word, a lot better MAN, if I had seen this show seven times from age twelve instead of from age sixty-two. This kind of event should be all over the world, maybe even in Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan—especially there! Lead the way Michiana women.
Nobody else in the U.S. has ever heard of Dyngus Day, another of South Bend’s Springtime claims to uniqueness. I’m sure many towns have their special celebrations, but can any of them equal magnificent Polish sausage, yellow noodles and kraut at the West Side Democratic Club, humming with politicians and their friends? Do the traditional South Bend thing and help kick off the “political season,” at the club. Races are really heating up and this place will give you a look inside the genuine “neighborhood” of political issues. Or if sheer fun is your aim, go see the Blazonczyk family group: clarinets, accordions, fiddles, and trumpets, the real deal-- polka music that rocks—for the twenty-fourth year--at the Crumstown Conservation Club out west of town. Prepared to dance, and wear red and white for our Polish friends and neighbors. Crocuses have suddenly appeared in the back yard, little buds on the apple and cherry trees, and thoughts of “what am I going to plant different this year?” Do I fill the yard with perennials in my quest to reduce mowing and raise the beauty quotient? More raised beds? Potatoes this time? Tomatillos—for that authentic Mexican salsa? Is this the Spring I’ll actually build the gurgling-water fountain?Whatever you do this Spring, please put peace at the center of your thoughts. I’m almost seventy, and I’m getting mighty frustrated with religious—really, economic—groupings, [mostly of poor young men, I’m afraid, led by unscrupulous old men], desperately killing and blowing up others. I’m sick over drones, overstuffed arms budgets blotting out ideas of negotiation and fair sharing of the earth’s endangered resources. I’m sick of the killing and bombing in my name, of the greed that’s at the root of war. All the world’s people want to do, at the heart of things, is share a nutritious meal with their family at the end of the day in a house or shelter where they can feel warm, secure, and loved for what they are: men, women, old, young--equal members of the human race, growing flowers—and tomatoes, and peppers, and basil, and oregano, and cilantro, and sage and parsley......For Michiana Chronicles, I’m David James.