We woke up this morning to a world draped in white. Since I have to work this weekend, and I realized I have no meetings, classes, or Reference Desk times scheduled today, I decided to enjoy what may be the last grey, moody, winter morning of the season. I'm staying home. The only time this year I've been able to relax in our warm little cottage and enjoy the world so beautifully stilled and transformed by the snow.
A nice pot of coffee, a log in the fireplace, some meditative music, the Christmas tree . . . (Yes, I know, it's March 16th, and we still have the Christmas tree up. We've broken our own record for laziness. But, really, the lights and ornaments are so lovely, why waste such beauty? And is it so bad to celebrate the Incarnation of G-d more than a few weeks each year? But, since tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day, we've decided we probably should finally take down the tree.)
The music. I started out the morning with Georg Philipp Telemann's Sinfonia Spirituosa from the 1720s or 30s, performed by the Musica Antiqua Köln on authentic instruments of the time period. Telemann, the most prolific composer of all-time, was German, a contemporary of J.S. Bach. According to Grove Music, he "was widely regarded as Germany’s leading composer during the first half of the 18th century. He remained at the forefront of musical innovation throughout his career, and was an important link between the late Baroque and early Classical styles. He also contributed significantly to Germany’s concert life and the fields of music publishing, music education and theory."
But on such a tranquil morning, Telemann's lovely music wasn't quite moody enough for me. So I went with the most haunting and beautiful winter music of all-time, Eleni Karaindrou's soundtrack to the Theo Angelopoulos film, Ulysses' Gaze. Karaindrou composes along the lines of Philip Glass, but with more warmth, a reflection, perhaps, of her Greek heritage. She utilizes violins, some piano (more so in her later works), heartbreaking clarinets and the most mournful and melancholy tones ever produced on an accordion. It's stunning, primal music that connects you to a deeper time. I get images of being a peasant in 1100, staring out at a silent, snowy field somewhere in the Balkans. A mysterious religious procession with hundreds of votive candles might be passing quietly through the village.
But I'm not in the Balkans, only on Long Island. Still, staring out my window, I can feel for a moment something ancient and immense in the woods around our little cottage. The sad but dignified brown trees reaching up to the grey, empty sky. The pure white snow against the dark road. The log crackling in the fireplace. (Hey, it's a Duraflame Crackling Log.) We live near a cemetery and sometimes a long, slow procession of cars will make its way mournfully down the hill, most likely coming from the Greek Orthodox Church not far down the road. This morning it feels like they could arrive at any moment.
It's nice to be blogging on a day like this, so quiet and relaxing. But I think I need to go outside now and just stand there with the snow. Look at the world. Listen carefully. Feel my breath. Feel my heartbeat. Be thankful to whoever is listening. As fucked up as the world can seem sometimes, I know that our lives can be small pockets of something deeply and incredibly beautiful. At least for a moment. At least for one amazing moment. Just to be alive.