Reflections and meditations on music and singing, birds in my life, books and literature, reading, art and art history, history and humanity, words and writing, and things that catch my eye or cause me to wonder.
reason to wash the dinner dishes early in the evening is that, in the odd
chance that the water heater has failed, one will learn that fact earlier than,
say, midnight, after everyone else has
already gone to bed.
when beginning to wash dishes late at night, the hot water isn’t hot enough, it
is not prudent to stand there while the water runs and runs and gets colder and
colder, thinking, WTF?
people think that shadows follow, precede, or surround beings or objects. The
truth is that they also surround words, ideas, desires, deeds, impulses and
Wiesel, writer, Nobel laureate (b. 1928)
are two kinds of light — the glow that illuminates, and the glare that obscures.
James Thurber, writer and cartoonist (1894-1961)
is the absence of light, merely the obstruction of the luminous rays by an
opaque body. Shadow is of the nature of darkness. Light [on an object] is of
the nature of a luminous body; one conceals and the other reveals. They are
always associated and inseparable from all objects. But shadow is a more
powerful agent than light, for it can impede and entirely deprive bodies of
their light, while light can never entirely expel shadow from a body, that is
from an opaque body.
the Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci
(1565, page 119)
the past several years, D and I have enjoyed visits to the New Britain Museum
of American Art, a fine, medium-sized museum in our region. There’s much to
love there, and we go often to see new exhibits and visit beloved individual
of the museum’s better-known works is The
Gravity of Color, a 2008 creation by Lisa Hoke (b. 1952), commissioned by
the Museum for this space.
I've seen this work many times, and have had a sort of grudging appreciation for it.
But today, my understanding and appreciation for it was transformed.
by Coventry Patmore (English poet and critic, 1823-1896)
Here, in this little Bay,
Full of tumultuous life and great repose,
Where, twice a day,
The purposeless, glad ocean comes and goes,
Under high cliffs, and far from the huge town,
I sit me down.
For want of me, the world’s course will not fail;
When all its work is done, the lie shall rot:
The truth is great, and shall prevail,
When none cares whether it prevail or not.
Coventry Patmore (1823-1896) was an English poet and
critic, widely recognized as a major poet. It’s interesting, then, that this poem strikes
me as an unambiguously
few years back I wrote about the moments of nostalgia, anxiety, and release
that I experience when I come to the end of the appointment book for the year
just ending, discard it, and take up the new.
am experiencing that odd admixture of emotions this afternoon as my beloved
little book goes into the trash. Oh, each year I think about saving them just
for savings’ sake, but the OCD part of me can’t allow that since I have not
done it from the beginning of time, and the set would, necessarily and forever,
as I flipped through the pages, much of the year’s big challenges and small
pleasures were brought to mind, such as ...
cracks in the ice show a white cleavage. What is their law? Somewhat like
foliage, but too rectangular, like the characters of some Oriental language. I
feel as if I could get grammar and dictionary and go into it. They are of the
form which a thin flake of ice takes in melting, somewhat rectangular with an
irregular edge. The pond is covered,—dappled or sprinkled,—more than half
covered, with flat drifts or patches of snow which has lodged, of graceful
curving outlines. One would like to skim over it like a hawk, and detect their
the Journal of Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), January 4, 1842.
long been fascinated by light in nature: by the changes in the quality and quantity of light from season to season, and by the changes in the
quality and color of light during a single day, and by the ways in which the changes in light affect the colors, textures, and clarity of what I can see, particular birds, foliage, and shadows.
the changes in the light were quite dramatic. At dawn, we were in the midst of
a blizzard; the softly muted, grayish light infused my photos from earliertoday.
at day’s end, with sunset less than an hour away, and with skies clear and dry,
the light is bright and hard, rendering in crisp detail what had been softly
blurred earlier. As the evening shadows fell across the yard, I looked out to see what I could see:
running errands, I naturally stop here and there to look for birds. Inherent in
looking for birds is close examination of the landscape, from soil to sky, and
everything in between. Very often, I find myself taking deep pleasure from the
simple beauty of color, texture, and line – the slope of a hill against the
sky, the shapes of leaves, the alignment of tree trunks against a subtly
is pleasant when one can relieve the grossness of the kitchen and the table by
the simple beauty of his repast, so that there may be anything in it to attract
the eye of the artist even. I have been popping corn tonight, which is only a
more rapid blossoming of the seed under a greater than July heat. The popped
corn is a perfect winter flower, hinting of anemones and houstonias. For this
little grace man has, mixed in with the vulgarness of his repast, he may well
thank his stars.”
the Journal of Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), January 3, 1842.
Perhaps an appropriate
sentiment during the period of regret following holiday indulgences. —Q
is one of my favorite vistas – what I call the “back meadow” – it’s public
land, but hidden from all except those who seek it out. Most people don’t care
about deep brown mud, golden grasses, some leafless trees, mown crops, an open
sky … but here is the richness of habitat, the sweep of open sky, the delight
of a fresh breeze. I come here again and again, marveling at the vast and
subtle changes that take place as the seasons change. This photo was taken in late October.
evening early in November, K texted me that she and C were enjoying a beautiful
sunset in their town, about 60 miles away. That inspired me to step outside to
see what our sky looked like. We’d just had a rain shower, and the air was
fresh and clear.
other day I stopped at a favorite spot to look for birds. It’s at the end of a
dead-end road, where one can look down on a small river winding through
woodland, near a residential neighborhood. Good spot for Rusty Blackbirds and
the occasional Red-shouldered Hawk. On one autumn morning, I watched a
ten-point buck come through the area, shouldering aside the undergrowth and
making himself Important.
this day, though, a smaller fellow caught my eye.
I’ve discussed earlier, I’m not the sort of birder who keeps lists, nor am I
the sort of birder who hops in the car to travel miles and miles in hopes of
seeing a bird that someone else spotted and reported. It just doesn’t seem good
for the birds, does it, to use a lot of fossil fuels to chase them down?
I like seeing rare and interesting birds as much as the next birder. If my
usual route takes me within reasonable distance of where some interesting bird
has been sighted, or if the sighting is within, say, 15 miles of home or office,
then yes, I’ll sally forth.
the way home the other day, my route took me through the meadows, where I love
to linger to look for, and look at, the wonderful variety of birds that can be
this cold day, a quick glance around showed little action across the landscape:
all I could see was the usual flock of feral Rock Doves and a few crows winging
their way toward the woods that bordered the meadow.
I scanned the area with binoculars, hoping against hope that I might spy one of
the Snowy Owls that have irrupted into our area in spectacular fashion this
winter. Or perhaps I might find a Northern Harrier to delight me with its
swooping flight. Scan, scan, scan…nothing.
wait, what was that? Feathers floating on the wind? A fresh kill by …