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Pierre-Auguste Renoir: Sentier dans le bois (circa 1874-1877)

"I have other habits which overtake me sometimes and drive me to commit equally minor crimes for all the very best reasons."

I would have pleaded passionate excess or perhaps temporary insanity, for had I been arrested in my youth on May Day, I would have most certainly been guilty as charged. No, I had not participated in any violent protest on that day or bumped off a bank. I would have probably been charged with some form of criminal trespass for sneaking into some fortunate soul's yard around midnight for the purpose of liberating a few of his choicer flowers. May Day reminds me of this once perhaps over-proud tradition which I practiced with diligence and without supervision for well over a decade. Before I had my own gardens, I'd one night each year take it upon myself to swipe a few of another's excess blossoms to craft a May Basket for my love. It would be a simple thing, often crafted from a page torn from a notebook or a cut down paper bag, but it would mean something. It would mean that I'd risked my freedom to express my ardor. It would mean that I had not forgotten. It encouraged the sort of domestic tranquility only ever known by hardened criminals who'd made a clean getaway. I'd return to my innocent ways in days following and stay on the proper side of the law until over the night before the next May 1st. I was a studied recidivist.

The Muse and I now count ourselves among the fortunate souls who have a yard overflowing with flowers on May 1st.
I for one would welcome any enterprising love struck soul to go right ahead and creep in and liberate a few choice ones for the purposes of expressing ardor. My mind sees no crime in that, for love lives far above reason and temperance and must at least be tolerated by those no longer so firmly held in its grip. Love arrives like a film flam fellow, telling tall tales and luring in innocent dreamers. He promises much less than he eventually delivers, though he seems to promise overmuch. The notion that the whole world might be transformed, indeed, that it's right then in the process of transforming, has always been impossible to dissuade. It simply seems inexorable for a time and those stricken feel anything but cursed. None deserve any of it, which only adds to its seductive allure. It visits without apparent prejudice on each person in turn. It leads to absurd responses, like creeping into a neighbor's yard to liberate some lilac and roses.

I maintain an ever-growing volume of curious traditions, several practiced to the level of obsession. Not one of them intended to make sense to anyone else and a few never really making much sense to me. I just religiously practice them. I sometimes behave like a dog who just needs to turn around three times before settling down anywhere. I dare not deny these urges' utter urgency, for I risk losing addressability to some essential part of me. When it snows, I'm moved to make liminaria, paper bags stuffed with sand and a candle, and set them out to glimmer regardless of fire restrictions. A birthday comes for someone dear and I feel overcome with the urge to write them a poem. Should I ignore this instinct, I sense doom until I've corrected my laxness. Christmas sparks in me a few days of obsessive poem writing, culminating on Christmas morning when I distribute them in lieu of sending gifts. May Day used to reliably turn me into a criminal, though I still argue that my crimes were at worst petty. Now that The Muse and I own our own lilacs, that tradition's put to bed, for it belonged only to that particular stage of life when my success was untested and I knew I was in love.

I wonder how it might be if that initial ardor had never abandoned me. Please do not mistake my question for anything sinister, for I think it perfectly acceptable for love to change pace over time. Initial lust perhaps must find calmer expressions over time. May baskets might mature into quiet shared understanding. A kiss is not just a kiss and time does go by. Admissions of earlier offenses should not necessarily lead to prison time but neither should they be mistaken for intentional indecency. I did my MidnightCreeping honestly if criminally, and criminal honesty should be recognized as both rare and admirable. I'm no longer in the habit of stealing others' flowers, but then I do not need to maintain that habit. I have other habits which overtake me sometimes and drive me to commit equally minor crimes for all the very best reasons. Don't we all?

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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