By Carol Gronner
Yesterday was another perfect example of how living in Venice, California is often to live within a poem. It was a sunny Sunday, the kind of perfect blue sky day that prompted me to think years ago when I was just visiting, “This is where I want to live.” And all these years later, that feeling has only grown stronger.
In a long held tradition of Venice pals, the Everharts and a bunch of us met for brunch at the Figtree Cafe to witness the spectacle of the annual Hare Krishna Parade from front row seats (with mimosas to match the orange theme of Parade Day). The colors of this day are a poem unto themselves.
Giant Krishna floats, bedecked with crazy balloon arrangements, the glitter and shimmer of the brilliantly-hued saris worn by women and men alike as they strolled by chanting and/or pulling the huge floats, bindis, face paint, and sparkling jewelry all bedazzled the late morning.
Bubble machines were new additions this year, lending an opalescent glow to the whole affair, and making their own commentary as to the fragile preciousness of moments like these … when people come together, local or tourist, Krishna or Christian, homeless or sailing by in the biggest yacht we’ve ever seen in these parts (honestly, did you see that thing? It even had a chopper on the pad on top!), whomever you were or whatever you believed, there was no denying the spectacular blessing of being alive and in this spot at this moment.
To spotlight that feeling, I share with you a quintessentially Venetian moment, that was, by all accounts, “Perfect!” When the Krishna floats go by, the followers toss huge saffron colored carnations to the bystanders with benevolent smiles. If you’re lucky, you might even get a little packet with a DumDum sucker and a tract called, “Krishna: The Reservoir of Pleasure.”
It’s all very “Peace and Love” and clapping and music and beauty, given to everyone present, whatever you believe in. The sunshine accentuated the colors and good vibes so much that the brightness had to lively up your spirit, no matter your mood.
Which is how what happened next happened. A lone man wearing a sandwich sign walked by right behind the last float of the parade. His sign read something about Jesus Saving. Which would be fine and great, except that you might categorize the gentleman wearing the sign as a “Hater.”
He walked past yelling, “OK, NO MORE WEIRDOS!” (yeah, right!) and “I bet you’re not even thankful for the breakfast you had!” Well, this was exactly the wrong spot for that kind of talk. He made completely wrong assumptions about this bunch. We are TOTALLY thankful! Without a word, people along both sides of the boardwalk threw all their orange Krishna carnations BACK upon the guy walking by, in a pure display of “Here Buddy, have some love! Try it, you’ll like it!” It was a living example of a flower stuck in the rifle barrel … and it was good. To complete the circle of the moment, a lone toddler scampered behind in the Sandwich Sign Wearer’s humbled wake, picking up as many flowers as he could hold, only to then hand them away to his loved ones. It really was “Perfect”.
That was followed by a long swim in the ocean that had beckoned us from our table all breakfast long. Drying in the sun, hearing laughter and music and the distant thump of the drum circle … it only got better. Later that night, the same group attended our annual Reggae Night at the Hollywood Bowl.
Even far across Lincoln, the Venice contingent found each other by chance as cells didn’t work high up in our Party Section of the Bowl. Hugs and drinks were shared up in our nest among the trees and stars, as excellent reggae got the entire Bowl audience dancing as one. Even as the last notes were flying out across the night sky, you could sense that all of us couldn’t wait to get back to Venice – thankful for another poem of a day, living in our seaside sanctuary.