by Yiscah Bracha.

Loren loved to disrupt the composure of others.  One year during the rehearsal for the MayDay ceremony, he surreptitiously placed a black and white skull-and-crossbones flag on the same pole that carried the sun, anticipating (correctly) that Sandy would get quietly apoplectic when she saw it (she did, and looked at me plaintively, as if I could somehow do something about it).    Another year, he costumed himself as a frothing mad dog for the parade, and declared his intention to lunge at the  toughest looking adolescent boys in the crowd, the macho ones strutting and preening for their friends.  One night as I was climbing the stairs he had made, to the loft he had made in his converted potato cellar (the cave), the human-sized crow that always stood next to the stairs suddenly lifted its wings and squawked at me.

His trickster antics started when he was very young.  He attended a Catholic school in Madison, Minnesota, he and one of his sisters living with their grandmother in town during the school week, returning home to the farm on the weekends.  One day, he and another schoolboy were exploring their environment, and they came across a nest of baby garter snakes.  They placed the entire writhing squirming mass of them in a bakery bag, and the next day placed the bag inside the locker of the most high strung girl in the school (remember, this is small town Minnesota in the 1950s, when school lockers didn’t have locks on them).  Of course the snakes escaped from the bag, and of course they ended up all over her books and clothes and the sides and ceiling of the locker.  “I didn’t see the result,” he narrated with some disappointment, “but I heard the screams”.  He would have gotten away with it, but his accomplice confessed.  He never would divulge their punishment.

He would disrupt but never in meanness.  Always gentle, always going just to the edge of what the target could handle, and then laughing and backing away, leaving the target a little shaken, but only because the target was holding too tightly to something in the first place.  Just another way that Loren’s spirit infected the world.

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