November 22, 2017I'm sitting in the stylist's chair, cape covering my torso as she carefully brushes the goopy color concoction onto my roots.
The stylist has been having some troubles lately. She was stiffed by a contractor for a pretty big sum of money. Another left the rollercoaster ride of a stylists' ebb and flow of business for a full time gig in the public sector. And while the stylist herself is very busy—she's a true artist with amazing skills that are in demand—her salon is not.
Another client walks in while she's finishing up applying the color and takes a seat to wait her turn.
"I'm just complaining about business," the stylist grins, bringing the new client into the fold.
"Right now it feels like this town sucks," she chuckles.
The client is quick to concur. She looks up from the 'Good News Newsletter' that she grabbed from the front desk and nods.
"I agree," she says with certainty. And then adds something less than complimentary about the paper. She's linking her views about "the town" to her opinion about the paper. And neither are good.
The smile I have on my face remains the same. I say nothing and just keep smiling.
The stylist leads me to the sink to rinse out the color.
"Speaking of Tri-City Times, I got two of them today," the stylist says pointedly, but I already know I was meant to hear the remark..
"Oh, I know. The post office sometimes..." I respond, still smiling.
The next morning there's a most interesting message in my email inbox. The subject line has me very curious.
"Rosary beads in tree" it says. The sender has a very unusual name attached to a gmail account. I remember writing about our Italian Catholic tradition a while back. The one where we place rosaries in the bushes around the house when there's a big outdoor activity and we pray it won't rain.
I open the email and see the link from the column I'd written in July of 2014 titled 'Old tradition makes for beautiful day.' The email message reads as follows:
I came across this article (website link to column) and wondered if you had any idea where the tradition comes from?
We have the same tradition coming from India/East Africa and I'm intrigued as to how the same idea crosses cultures.
Wow! I'm amazed and respond as such:
How wonderful to hear from you! Where are you from?
I do not know where this tradition originates, however I will look into it and see what I can find. I thought it was an 'Italian Catholic' tradition, but obviously the roots are spread wider in this regard. I am so intrigued!
When you and/or your family or culture took part in this tradition of rosaries in the trees/bushes, was it for special occasions? Can you describe how your culture used the tradition? I would love to do a follow up story on this.
How amazing that we share these same things. I am grateful that you have written, and hope to find out more about you and your culture as well.
The next day I receive this:
I'm so glad I got a response—thank you. I wasn't sure if you would still be working there!
I'm in London but my family has a complicated history, originally coming from India but via Kenya in the early 1900s. We're also Muslim having converted from Hinduism around 100 years ago. The exact name for our people would be Khoja.
My initial suspicion was that this was a Hindu/Indian tradition (because of our heritage) which has been appropriated as a Muslim superstition specific to our culture/people, but from researching on the internet it did seem like a Catholic thing. (It might be both.) I didn't know about the Italian Catholic connection specifically though.
We have a version of a rosary for counting praises to God rather than prayers, called a Tasbih aka worry beads that Arabs are stereotypically thought to carry. The tradition or superstition is that if you hang a tasbih on a tree it will prevent rain. I've mainly seen it used for weddings but also for other important occasions where good weather is desirable! It sounds very similar to the Catholic one.
We have tons of other random superstitions. I may look into the origins of the others as well.
Hmmmm. An old adage comes to mind...I think of the woman's negative comments and then think 'one man's junk is another man's treasure. Grinning like a maniac, I've just received a bounty.
Email Catherine at email@example.com.
Catherine Minolli is Managing Editor of the Tri-City Times. She began as a freelance writer with the Times in 1994. She enjoys the country life, including raising ducks and chickens.