Posted by: normanlgreen | August 14, 2011

Dream, August 14, 2011 tree sacrifice & church video

Dream, home 8:25 am

Lou, a photographer friend comes over to my house with some news. There is an annual event , wherein a tree is chosen to be set on fire. This year, the tree is a twenty year old magnolia that is blooming in my front yard. He wishes to sneak back after dark to take pictures of the blazing tree. I look out the front of my house and see a line of unkempt bushes, hedges and trees and the lone magnolia. It stands less than ten feet tall, with an umbrella of branches, thick, waxy black-green leaves and pink tinged white blossoms hanging down under the dark canopy. Lou tells me that soon, the women will begin to arrive to prepare for the arson. I may as well welcome them as they will succeed in their task. They will need many strips of paper to hang their wishes among the flowers, tied to the branches and twigs. I gather some paper to cut into strips and put the stack into a plastic grocery sack. There are some printed sheets that I will also need to cut into bookmarks – unrelated to the tree fire. Since I am to go down to my print shop to cut the strips, I will take the bookmarks as well. I leave through the front of the house and look again at how closely the overgrown hedge abuts the targeted tree. I hope that someone will trim them back so the fire does not get too out of hand – still, I figure, they have experience with this, and I do not. As I pass through the yard on the north side of the house, women who wear long skirts, billowy blouses and pastel colored head scarves, dart through the bushes of my property. They keep their heads down, so I never see faces. Each carries a Molotov cocktail – an old unlabeled bottle, refilled with gasoline and tied around its neck with an off-white rag. We do not interact. I pretend not to see them. It is still light in the early evening, so I know I can get back in time to give them their strips of wish paper and to see the fire.

Walking up a sidewalk, I come to a cross walk and see that a church group are doing some location shooting for one of their youth group videos. Two directors chair have been set up in the adjacent street (not the one I am crossing) and a staged interview is taking place. Two young men stand hunched with their eyes to the viewfinders of the cameras. The bearded pastor operates a wireless setup of a microphone on a boom and gives directions. This gives him more freedom of mobility than if he were operating a camera. Unfortunately, no one told me that there was a take in progress, so I have disrupted the shot. While they prepare for a retake, I move across the street, closer to the front of my business and stand well out of frame so I can observe their work for a few minutes. They recommence the scene, with a young woman with shoulder length hair seated with a slightly older young man. They are delivering the same lines as before, so this interview has been worked out in advance. The wind gusts, and this rustles the thin plastic of the bag I clutch to my chest. The soundman/pastor shoots me a look. I back away from the scene, uphill along the sidewalk and into an alcove around the corner where the building jogs back from the street by eight feet. This shelters me from the wind, but also from the scene. As part of the same shot, the interview ends and the young woman walks up the same sidewalk, with a hand-held camera in the street tracking her from the side. Before long, she too has rounded the corner where I have hidden, as she delivers a monologue about her moral struggle with what she has just heard in the interview. She also steps into the alcove, almost bumping into me. I, of course, have come into frame, so I must pretend not see to the camera pointed toward me, but also that I do not notice the young woman. In my mind, I justify that this is indicative of how we, as a society, do not look at each other.

Still, I must get the paper cut. So when the video crew departs, I return to the corner, as we have set up our big hydraulic paper-cutter in the parking lot across the street from my building. Crossing to the cutter I worry about the effect of the weather on the moving parts to the machine. As it weighs three-quarters of a ton, there is little fear of someone stealing it in the night. Walking up to the cutter, I find it has been disconnected from the power supply that feeds from the base of a streetlight. Someone has tapped into all of the 220 volt outlets that are molded into a heavy plastic electrical supply pallet of bright orange. I consider unplugging one of the lines, but do not want to accidentally turn-off any equipment that relies on continuous power feed. The sun is going down. Soon the babushka women will hang their wishes, chant their chants, and torch the tree.


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