Friday, March 16, 2007

Friday Morning Musings

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.


Liam said...

Very nice post, Batman. I like the image of being in the Balkins. Enjoy the day.

Jeff said...

Terrific post, William. I had the day off too. That snowfall on Friday really was beautiful to behold (almost thought we'd miss a good snowfall like that this Winter), even though I think I threw my backout a little bit when I was out shoveling for the second time tonight.

Anne and I both enjoy Telemann's music, her especially. Glad to hear that you listen to it. I enjoyed the Karaindrou clips on Amazon, too. Thanks.

Had a melancholy but not altogether negative cemetery visit on Thursday evening. I'm starting to see too many graves in the same place of people I once knew, both young and old...

crystal said...

It's almost like you live in a different world ... here it's sunny and 76 F ... a beautiful if somber one.

cowboyangel said...


Thanks. My "amazing moment" communing with the world didn't last long. Turned out that the lovely snow was really a nasty sleet. I only stayed out there a few minutes, as it was whipping down pretty good. Heard the train rolling by, that was nice. And heard the strange warblings of a lot of freaked out birds. Poor things. They had probably just arrived with the warm spell last week and now were getting blasted by driving ice pellets.

cowboyangel said...

Jeff, I have a feeling you got more snow thatn we did here. As I said to Liam, it turned out to be sleet more than anything. All day long.

I take it you've lived where you do for a long time, so that you see more names in the cemetery. One aspect of having moved around a lot, is that I'm shielded by that.

Glad to know you like Telemann. I find a lot of people don't know his work. I'm guessing then you also like Arcangelo Corelli?

cowboyangel said...


Actually, we do live in different worlds. Long Island is just a cover. I'm really blogging from FRED ASTAIRE 1183, a small, art-deco planet just north of the Milky Way. We sent one of our agents to Earth back in the 1920s, but he fell in love with an earthling and decided to become a dancer instead of a spy.

The East Coast is definitely different from the West. I feel it all the time.

Yes, I suppose writing about funeral processions and silent, snowy mornings is somewhat somber. But I have my melancholy side.

Liam said...

Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig, a William!

manofletters said...

I also love Telemann, though not as much as Rameau. I stayed home Friday, knowing it would be that kind of day. Great to know there are others who love such days. I love "bad weather" and hate people (and the media) who always refer to it negatively (warning us away from it). I deliberately drove to a movie Friday during the height of the storm because it'd been a few years since I did such driving, which I find exilirating (sp?) and challenging. And it worked: I got a charge just out of getting where I was going!

You're a terrific writer.

Fprgot to mention, I saw "Mafioso" last week. Too recent a film for you?