Thursday, March 30, 2006

Raggle Taggle Gypsy

This is my daughters favorite song, her Dad is from Ireland and we listen to this song every day. After seeing the other lyrics posted I thought this would be a good way to break the ice on my first visit here to the Gypsy camp. this song is on the chieftans cd called the wide world over.

There were three bold gypsies came to our hall door
Down the stairs came this lady-o
One sang high and another sang low
The other sang the Bonny bonny Biscay-o
They sang so sweet and they sang so shrill That fast here tears began to flow
She laid down her silken gownHer golden rings and all her show
Then she pulled off her silk finished gown
And she pulled off here satin bow
She left them all at our door
She is gone with the raggle-taggle gypsy-o
It was late at night when my lord came homeEnquiring for this lady-o
The servants said on every hand
She is gone with the raggle-taggle gypsy-o
O saddle for me my milk white steedAnd go fetch me my pony-o
That I may go and seek my bride Who is gone with the raggle-taggle gypsy-o
O he rode hight and he rode low He rode through wood and copsees-o
Until he came to a wide open field And there he spied his lady-o
O what made you leave your house and land What made you leave your money-o
What made you leave your new-wedded lordTo be off with the raggle-taggle gypsy-o
O what care I for my house and land
What care I for money-o
What care I for my new-wedded lord
I'm off with the raggle-taggle gypsy-o
O what care I for my goose feathered bed
With the sheet turned down so bravely-o
Tonight I will sleep in an open field Along with the raggle-taggle gypsy-o40 Irish Pub Songs


Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Story Time

It's always time for a story 'round
the camp fire here ...



In the land of Nanastee at the midst of a mountain forest grew an incredible daffodil, fresh as springtime but already in full bloom. A raven landed nearby in search of interesting bits of this and that. “Oh look at the sunrise,” exclaimed the flower. “My friend the Sun has come again to bring goodness and life to all the world.”

The raven had been preening in his reflection within a drop of dew, now fading with the warming rays. “That may be true for you, but in fact it is neither good nor life for all.”

“But it must be,” cried the blossom. “My gardener says that that the dew will return again this night. Without this faith he would have no job or purpose. Just ask any of the plants here in the meadow -- they know about rebirth.”

“I have flown to distant places,” whispered the raven, “where the land is parched and dry and there is never any dew, and to oceans where any dew is lost in endless waves.”

“Those must be evil lands indeed,” sighed the saddened daffodil. “To think that there are places with no life at all!”

“Oh, there is life – it is a fact, but in truth you would not recognize it, for there are no flowers or trees.”

“That is not possible – you must surely have one or the other. That is the way the world is made, and all of the other flowers tell me so. And I have asked such questions of the trees and hear nothing, so they must agree.”

“What of the ferns there at the edge of the woods – they have no flowers but would seem to be alive and hardy?” queried the raven.

“What!” exclaimed the indignant flower. “You can’t consider their views at all! They do not reproduce naturally with pollen and bees, but with corms that grow underground – and we all know how terrible and insidious that is. That is why the gardener comes every Sunday – to chop out this evil that would invade our beautiful meadow. I pray that he will come soon.”

“I think that the ferns were here first,” mused the bird, “and covered this meadow with gentle laughter long before flower seeds were dropped here – by birds, I imagine. As I don’t know for sure I can only guess -- I doubt that I can gain as much wisdom flying around as you can here in touch with Mother Earth."

"You're not siding with those awful ferns are you? I thought you liked us flowers -- anyone can see we have more to offer."

"Oh yes, I like flowers very much, " chuckled the raven while liking his lips. Such nice seeds -- so many -- I don't have to wander far to help with my own rebirth."

"Dear gardener, protect me," wailed the trembling daffodil. Those seeds are the product of true love and raised with tender care. They are my source of reincarnation -- my immortality!"

"Fah! You don't even know who the father is and never cared a scratch for them until now. And your belief in bees is wrong too. You were probably pollinated by a mosquito!"

"Shame and damnation on your soul. Everyone has a guardian bee and you know it. Here comes the gardener -- he'll show you what for!"

The gardener did come -- and carefully cut down the daffodil and all of her friends. He took them home and placed them in a vase by his daughter's bed. He didn't pick lilies to place beneath a cross as some did. He didn't dry the flowers for use on his altar. He just grew daffodils because he liked them -- and that was their purpose after all.

The raven Munin flew home to Odin to bring him news of what he had learned, and the Sun believed it was time to end the day. The ferns just danced in the silent breeze and enjoyed the shade of the elder trees. And that's the truth.

About scrumpy...

What came first, the noun or the verb? In the west of England, where apple groves abound and scrumpy is the `real’ cider (forget that pathetic brew they sell in the shops) the locals will tell you that `scrumping’ means stealing apples – this rough brew was the result of orchard raids.

The making of scrumpy is nothing to take lightly – it is a calling, and it even has its own language. For example, the mill that grinds the fruit is called a scratter – today scrumpy makers use electric scratters of course, but once it would have been operated by hand, or a simple stone grinding tool, similar to the action of a mortar and pestle.

The ground fruit makes a `pomace’ or pulp, which is formed into cakes and put into a cider press, separated by layers of horsehair or straw (today they use fine mesh). The cakes are pressed and the juice collected and poured into casks. Nothing is wasted – the animals get the dried pressed cake as winter feed when all the juice has been collected.

The juice is left to ferment its natural juices into scrumpy for several weeks. This is real cider – it is made of one hundred per cent apples, gathered, crushed, squeezed and fermented where the apples grow.

Apples are of course the perfect fruit – a portable meal that is both refreshing and filling. Apples can be stored a long time, and gypsies love them, because they remain edible even when they start to dry and wrinkle. As the old country folk say, ``an apple a day keeps the doctor away and a glass of scrumpy will cheer him up if you do have to call him out on a cold and rainy night”.
The apple is a tempting fruit, begging to be eaten as it hangs low on the bough – perhaps this is why it came to be associated with the forbidden fruit of the Garden of Eden. In the Garden of the Hesperides, apples grew on the Tree of Life. Paris won Helen of Troy (and started a war) when he presented a golden apple to Aphrodite. Snow White is the victim of a poisoned apple given to her by her stepmother.

Steeped in legend, the apple is the fruit of romance, temptation, love and sin. No wonder apples can make a drink as potent as scrumpy.

Traditionally, red delicious and even crabapples are used to make cider, although other varieties can be used. Pears can be crushed and squeezed in the same way, making a drink called perry. No wonder the tribe is happy to be back.

(image from Free Stock Photos)

Back to the Gypsy Camp...

Today I took a walk in that glade where the gypsies used to camp - it is empty now, for the tribe has moved to Riversleigh and is setting up camp in an apple grove nearby. I walked over the ashes of old campfires, and remembered the times before - the dancing, the singing, the feasting and joyful celebrations.
The sound of tambourines, pipes and drums has moved to Riversleigh now - the soft southern sunshine gives away to crisp country breezes and winding lanes. As the caravans creak toward the apple grove, even the horses perk up because they will soon be freed from their traces to roll in the lush grass and pick up the windfall apples.
One wagon moves slower than the others - it is stocked with the old cider known as scrumpy, picked up as the tribe moved through Kent, ready for the celebrations to come. I warn you, travellers, scrumpy is powerful stuff. It will make the tone deaf and lead footed sing and dance.
The gypsies will sleep tonight, under the bright stars shining down on the apple grove. Then Lavengro and his people will rise early in the morning, fetch water from the well and ready the camp to welcome any visitors that happen by. They have stories to tell, and wonders to show you from their travels, so be sure to pop in and see what's new.