Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Spring light -GOLD

Rachel and I were in her kitchen talking about 6:00 last night when she glanced out the window and said "LOOK!"  The bare tree behind her neighbor's house was entirely gold as were some shrubs.  We went to the front and looked out and it seemed all the trees across the street had also been touched by King Midas.  She took these photos with her IPad and sent them to me. 

Painters and local people talk about "Cape Light" which is often glorious, but we had never seen this kind of gold at sunset. The the top photo we are looking south, in the bottom photo we are looking east.  A quick glance would make you think there is a huge fire in the bottom picture.

The bottom photo reminds me of a picture I saw recently of a huge solar flare that occurred a couple of days ago.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Sun Comes up Like Thunder ...

In writing class yesterday, Mert offered a blank verse description of sunrise.  I knew exactly what he was talking about. especially since our clock "sprang ahead" I have been watching sunrises.  My windows look due east.  I think Kipling was wrong in his simile "like thunder out of China 'cross the bay".  Gorgeous, yes, and a moment comes when the golden half-circle of the sun seems to spring full circle from behind the still bare trees (some fir trees are on the horizon too).  I've been trying to think of a better simile -- yes, I dare think this memorized, often quoted line of poetry sounds magnificent but isn't quite true. The full sun suddenly blinds me -- more like lightening than thunder, but that's not really right either.  Can't offer anything....

But Mert did explain, which, in truth I don't understand, why within a week the place on the horizon from which the sun rises has moved definitely northward.  A week or slightly more ago it was directly in front of me. Now it's over to the left several degrees. Says Mert, "the timing near the solstice is a sine curve; so it does appaer to change positions more rapidly than it does near the equinoxes."  Okay -- I see it, but I need much more explanation if I am to understand. 

Although, in truth, I don't need any explanation. I look at the colors spreading across the sky -- that wonder holds my attention each morning.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Another Snow Scene

You know those ads for fancy ski resorts where a lovely young woman lies on a chaise in the snow, clad but obviously sunbathing in the brilliant snow while looking toward the mountain slopes?  I think that's what these Canadian geese are doing.  Soaking up the reflected rays while the person on the right is digging out his or her car which looks like a small mountain there.  This may be -- I hope will be -- the last snow picture of the year.  The day I took this picture my car was much like the one in the picture. When I went out to get my snow brush to tackle the inches burying my car, I found I could not even get into the car to retrieve the brush -- beneath the snow the car was encased in ice and I could not pull the door open although I heard it unlock.  So I brushed off what snow I could with hands and outstretched arm, went into the house and hung my clothes up to dry and then took my cue from the geese.  I waited for the sun to do its work.  Three hours later most of the snow was falling off the car and the ice had melted. Inside the car was reasonably warm, probably in the high 40s or low 50s.  Such is March in New England this winter.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Our Last Big Snowfall This Winter?

Another ten inches Thursday, on after a few hours of rain. I've never had a car totally iced over so that I could not open the doors -- until yesterday morning. The sun came out bright and happy. I swept off the fluffy snow. By 11:30 the sun did it's work, I could get into my car. 

Meanwhile the geese, like our summer beach visitors, seem to enjoy settling on the snow and sunbathing. I saw one guy with a baggie of bread pieces feeding them. 

This picture shows how the snow drifts up to the building, actually higher than the windows. And the narrow shoveled walkway is a ditch in the snow. In the afternoon my daughter came over with two shovels. We set about clearing what is really three parking spaces in the area of the lot I like to park in. We rememberted this kind of work in the long ago past when she was in high school and we lived in the snow belt of upstate New York. She reminded me that one of my first publications in a regional (not really national) magazines was a tongue-in-cheek article about snow shoveling in Yankee Magazine. And I reminded her that fifteen years before that I had published my first article in a national magazine called Baby Talk, which is still a freebie; in that long ago era long before Pampers, the magazine came with diaper services. But I digress. 

Maybe this is our last snow of the year here in New England. Records have been broken! But I have seen big snowfalls in April so... we'll wait and see.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Vienese Waltzes

I used to imagine that in another life I lived in Vienna during the period of the great Strausses, father and son, who composed one wonderful waltz after another. I heard the music and wanted to go whirling around a ball room in a full skirted dress.  The simple rhythm is totally infectious (as are polkas and marches). Dr. Oliver Sacks, as I've mentioned, has written about music affecting a primal part of the brain.  

Thursday it snowed again -- yes, again! When i arrived at my opera class I was told the opera of the day had been change to something light and cheery -- Die Fladermaus.  Oh, my! It was an old DVD of a performance done in Vienna, probably at New Years. The set and costumes were authentically Viennese, the singers were very fine, the comedy was broad - expecially in the final act! -- and the dancing, both waltzes and a breath taking polka, were so much fun I think the rather small turn out for the class totally forget the "weather outside was frightful" because the music inside "was delightful."

Yesterday at my writing class one person read a very short essay about being older and hoping for joy in the midst of his distresses. (His wife died only a few months ago.) In the last few weeks I have enjoyed so much music which has lifted me like helium into areas of joy -- it did not fall in my lap, I went where it was -- one sort of fell in my lap when a friend offered a symphony ticket to see the Annie Moses Band. I could have said no, but, of course I didn't.  One must not sit home and wait for joy to descend like the falling snow, you have to know what makes you happy and go where it is.  Of course it won't always be there. No, I didn't realize my dreams of whirling around with dashing partner.  Only once, in college, there was a polka and a partner and we whirled and stomped until we were so out of breath we couldn't talk. It was summer and we were on the big terrace of the student union building. A long, long way from Vienna. Some joys are short but unforgettable and, for me, many of them have to do with music.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Music is Magnificent

Maybe something about the prolonged cold and mild cabin fever makes me more than usually susceptible to the magic of music.  Dr. Oliver Sacks wrote that music is processed in its own section of the brain. Its effect on the human being is more pervasive and older than speech. Sometimes people who lose their ability to speak due to brain injuries such a strokes, can still sing, including the words.  So soon after the delight of the Anne Moses Band, I had another musical experience that I had been a little reluctant to go to but went and am so glad I did.

The opera class was to see a DVD of Candide. I heard it years ago and read the book even more years ago and was not very interested but was convinced to go by the same person who gave me a ticket to the symphony. Happily the coordinator of the opera class decided not to show the Broadway version but a concert version video taped in London in 1988, just two years before  Leonard Bernstein died. (He looked far older than he does in the picture here.) He had the gaunt face of an old man but it remained marvelously mobile and expressive).  Bernstein had worked on the initially unsuccessful opera (or operetta as Wikipedia calls it) for three or four years and at last had it in the shape that pleased him. He had a wonderful set of singer including Adolph Green (hardly a singer) as Pangloss/Narrator and the beautiful Krista Ludwig as the Old Lady and a cast of younger singers who were all very fine. It was in the Barbican Center in London with a large orchestra and chorus.

L.B.,  always a very dymanic conductor, known for speaking to the audience, did that too at times, he was a part of the event squared.  The video camer a was on his face often, he was involved body and soul, dancing, jiving, singing, he was very happy, he embraced singers many times.  It was a moment of great triumph and joy which was clear in every shot of his face.  Total involvement.  And empathatically I felt the same.

I also thought often of the stone deaf Beethoven trying to conduct his last great works with multiple frustrations and a contentious audience, I thought of impoverished Mozart and young, sick, sad Schubert with their magnificent works but never, as far as is known, the kind of immersion in a successful life achievement that L.B. has in this concert. I was thrilled for him, thrilled an artist can feel achievement so acutely. Search for "Bernstein conducting Candide", there are several video clips. The whole thing is available on DVD.  It's an experience to make your heart sing.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Aftermath- Blizzard(s) of February 2015

Leaving the tiny post office, looking toward the two lane road and my car parked in a cleared space about 25 feet away. Then looking just to my left at the mail box and behind it the narrow street where I usually park when I stop at that Post Office.  My car is nearly dwarfed by a pile of snow about 9 feet high. 

Streets in this residential area are two lane, the lanes are at least six inches narrower than normal due to the piled snow. At any  crossing, easing into the larger or more frequented street is scary. It is impossible to see in either direction if anything is coming. Many people, elated to be on relatively clean streets after a week of blizzards, whiz along at 35 or so (the speed limit) and don't pay attention to the possibility of other cars entering from the side streets.  Visibility is a serious problem.
I was going to look for "pretty" snow pictures, but  I've found none. This wasn't a  pretty week of storms, most of the snow was too heavy to make graceful designs on the trees. What we have are  piles of snow, lumpy, unlovely, and they are getting filthy, of course. Nothing very nice I can say about this blizzard.  And the many people suffering burst water pipes due to the plunge in temperature a couple of days ago have nothing positive to say.  I'm only glad that today was mostly sunny, my parking lot was nicely plowed and I was able to go to a class at A.L.L., see a group of people, chat with others and over come the growing feeling of cabin fever.