i distinctly remember my sweet momma talking about FERDINAND THE BULL. she would refer to him from time to time, a twang on the third syllable slipping into her new york accent. i am wracking my memory for her other wise words about him. my guess is that, despite not remembering her exact words, her message isn’t lost on me.
FERDINAND is a book published in 1936, the story of a gentle bull who loved to smell flowers (aka “flowuhs”). he spent his time sitting under a tree, daydreaming, sniffing flowers. upon finding himself in the madrid bullfighting ring, he sits calmly in the middle, refusing to take the bait. the grace of a mashup of “i want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.” (oriah mountain dreamer) and “when push comes to shove, don’t.” (unknown) we have much to learn.
FERDINAND was performed by the Washington Island Music Fest this past week and was among my favorite moments of this two week music festival at TPAC. it was sweet on many levels, read aloud, depicted on violin, slides of the original illustrations on screen.
and my momma, in my mind’s eye, reminding me to be like FERDINAND. a bull, by definition fully expected to want to fight, presumed to fight, just like all the other bulls – and yet, brave enough to be different, to sniff the flowers, to turn away from participating in dissension or violence, to be at peace being true to oneself.