And now that we’re into July, the summer slowdown is well and truly underway. Everyone seems to have a different reason for it – being out of town on vacation or at festivals, higher gasoline prices, or just plain not liking the heat – but our Grove’s events in July and August always have a lower turnout than at other times of the year. My attempts at getting folks to go mini-golfing in past years have usually gotten very low turnouts, Coffee Hour attendance gets a bit sparse, and even Lughnasadh doesn’t seem have the drawing power of any of our other outdoor High Day rites. So when Jude suggested a picnic as our summer social activity, I was hopeful that we could get a decent number of people there, but worried that nobody would show up at all.
Per Rodney’s suggestion, we scheduled the picnic at Bandemer Park on the north side of Ann Arbor, which I’d never visited until a few weeks ago. It’s a very compact park, created on a small piece of land, but it does amazingly well with the space it has. There’s a boat launch right on the Huron, perfect for sitting with one’s feet in the water (and for launching boats, I suppose), a nice picnic shelter, a fire circle (which I still haven’t seen myself), and a nine hole disc golf course, which was clearly the biggest draw in the park as I arrived on Sunday morning. Just about every car I saw pull in had people with discs getting out.
I set up in the picnic shelter, which I’d wanted to rent but the Parks Department wanted about $100 to rent either the shelter or the fire circle, which was well beyond what we could afford. But with the shelter empty and every visitor headed to the disc golf course, I figured we could use it up until someone else showed up to use it – which didn’t happen. (With that rental fee, I shouldn’t have been surprised that nobody else reserved it.) After half an hour of waiting and worrying, other folks did arrive, allaying my fears of a four-person picnic.
It was a very casual affair, with folks wandering about the park, visiting the river and the wooded areas around the shelter. After eating, we had our first official ritual of the day, a saining ritual for Jan. Since we hadn’t brought the full ritual regalia – or any of the ritual regalia – there was much improvising, with a small depression in the ground serving as the Well, and the barbecue grill by the shelter acting as the Fire. But I did remember to bring the Grove’s Blessed Water, and Jan certainly doesn’t object to me holding him, so the saining itself was easy enough. And so he is now welcomed and recognized as a fully individual member of our Grove.
After that, Paul, Rod and I tried out the golf discs I’d bought, with Valerie and Jan following us around the course. Since I had bought a three disc set, I ended up using the mid-range disc, Paul the driver, and Rod the putter for the whole course. And even with the heaviest of the discs, Rod still managed to win. Hmph. It’s quite a fun sport, and I’ll probably enjoy it even more once I have any idea what I’m doing.
Back at the shelter, where everyone else had been sitting and talking, we ate some more and visited the river again, then Val led us in a Roman-style ritual, honoring Apollo, in which we offered stories and songs and poems to him. I sang my own composition “Hail to the Goddess Ana”, since I hadn’t prepared anything or brought my lyrics book. (Next year for sure!)
After that, we played some bocce before cleaning up the site and heading home. (But I stayed to play another round of disc golf, and not only managed to score even worse than on my first try, but injured myself slipping and sliding down a small hill – I now wonder if I’m the first person to end up bleeding during disc golf?)
So with an attendance of nine – huge by summer standards – and a good time had by all, I’m glad that we did the picnic instead of the mini-golf this year. I can go play mini-golf on my own time, and probably not even end up bleeding. >8)
Next week, since every other Pagan blog seems to be talking about “coming out”, so will I.
Rev. Rob Henderson
Senior Druid, Shining Lakes Grove, ADF