Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Bravo, Maestro!


This lovely editorial was published in today’s edition of The Hartford Courant, every word of it true and right:

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Strange Sleep


This morning I was woken by a migraine. Not the cluster headaches that sometimes waken me, but a “regular” migraine, on the right side.

I got up, had some strong tea and two Advil, and fought off the nausea. I considered whether I’d be able to manage getting up and out on time to sing in the church choir; an early call this morning meant that I’d have to hurry. Waves of pain and more nausea made the decision for me. I was able to send off a text to the substitute choir director, then fell back to bed as the usual migraine-induced sleepiness crept over me.

Then the oddest thing happened.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Poetry and Music

Here's another treasure discovered at the  National Gallery of Art:

Amid the stubble

Horned Lark (male)
Image ©2014 by Quodlibet. All rights reserved.
Several weeks ago, I wrote about a flock Horned Larks that I found in a large agricultural field near where I live.  In that post, I included Henry David Thoreau’s observations on Horned Larks. Like Thoreau, I was frustrated that day by not being able to get close enough to these skittish birds to observe them closely. But yesterday I had an opportunity for very close looks.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Fragonard: The Return of the Drove


D and I have been enjoying explorations of the many fine art museums in our area. I enjoy taking photos (only where permitted) to document my experience with certain works of art that move and delight me. The photo series also show how I tend to experience art, starting with a wide perspective, then focusing in on layers and details. I always read the museum placards, and photograph them, too.

Since I have a fine collection of these photo essays, I'll post some of them here. The accompanying texts are copied from my photos of the placards. 

On a recent visit to the Worcester Art Museum, I was delighted to find a work by one of my favorite artists, French painter Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732-1806). This painting, The Return of the Drove, inspires all sorts of memories of my farm childhood, but beyond that, it is a work full of stories.  Take a closer look:

This just took my breath away




“Write while the heat is in you”


“Write while the heat is in you. When the farmer burns a hole in his yoke he carries the hot iron quickly from the fire to the wood for every moment it is less effectual to penetrate pierce it. It must be used instantly or it is useless The writer who postpones the recording of his thoughts uses an iron which has cooled to burn a hole with He cannot inflame the minds of his audience.”

—From the Journal of Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), February 10, 1852.



Wednesday, March 5, 2014

An Unexpected Treat


A few weeks ago on the way home from somewhere or other, I stopped by a little dead-end street that looks out over a section of a small river. It’s a good place to see ducks and other birds. I saw a ten-point buck here once.

On this day, as I pulled into the little parking area, I could see movement down on the water… ducks! And oh, it was a pair of my favorite ducks:

“A more practical and vital science”


“We read the English poets; we study botany and zoology and geology, lean and dry as they are; and it is rare that we get a new suggestion. It is ebb-tide with the scientific reports, Professor ______ in the chair. We would fain know something more about these animals and stones and trees around us. We are ready to skin the animals alive to come at them. Our scientific names convey a very partial information only; they suggest certain thoughts only. It does not occur to me that there are other names for most of these objects, given by a people who stood between me and them, who had better senses than our race. How little I know of that arbor-vitae when I have learned only what science can tell me! It is but a word. It is not a tree of life. But there are twenty words for the tree and its different parts which the Indian gave, which are not in our botanies, which imply a more practical and vital science. He used it every day. He was well acquainted with its wood, and its bark, and its leaves. No science does more than arrange what knowledge we have of any class of objects. But, generally speaking, how much more conversant was the Indian with any wild animal or plant than we are, and in his language is implied all that intimacy, as much as ours is expressed in our language. How many words in his language about a moose, or birch bark, and the like!”
—From the Journal of Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), March 5, 1858.


Monday, March 3, 2014

CONCORA Bach Festival Opens This Weekend


Join CONCORA over three weekends in March, as Bach’s glorious Mass in B Minor is explored in preparation for CONCORA’s performance with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra on March 30, 2014 at 4:00 PM at Immanuel Congregational Church in Hartford.

The public performance of the Mass in B Minor marks Maestro Richard Coffey’s final concert with CONCORA, as he steps down as Artistic Director after 40 years.

According to Maestro Coffey, “The Mass in B Minor represents the culmination of the entire life’s work of J.S. Bach. Within it there is poignancy, contemplation, architectural splendor and unbridled joy all delivered by the hands and voices of choruses, soloists, and large orchestra.”

CONCORA’s Bach Festival offers two Saturdays, each with a morning lecture and a Community Sing, led by Maestro Coffey, lunch, and an open CONCORA rehearsal from 1:00 to 4:00 PM, with light refreshments. Three Sunday afternoons will feature special guests: Dr. Julianne Baird, soprano; Jacqueline Horner-Kwiatek, mezzo-soprano; and Dr. Christoph Wolff, eminent Bach scholar.

More information, and a registration form, may be found at www.concora.org.

By the way, the figure shown at the top of this post is Bach's famous, and beloved monogram. It is composed (heh) of his initials, JSB, superimposed in mirror image, and crowned. Here it is in expanded format:


 See?


The Morning After

This little essay is going to sound like a rant, and to some extent, it is. But more than that, it’s a question: Why?

OK, two questions.

Am I the only one?

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Up Close and Personal


A few weeks ago as I worked in my office, I stretched and took a look out the office window into the back yard. Here’s what I saw:

Elusive Grey Ghost


Several weeks ago, while scanning for Horned Larks and Snow Buntings in my meadow, I spotted what I thought was a Grey Ghost – a male Northern Harrier – away in the back of the meadow, where brush and grasses have been left standing, off to the left of this photo: 


Way back here:


I had caught the startling flash of white underwing from a bird that dipped and wheeled low over the russet remains of meadowsweet, asters, and goldenrod. On several return trips, I again saw the white wings, rising and falling, but never near enough to see entire, and no path allowed me closer access.

More recently, as I was studying the lights and contrasts of frost and foliage during a particularly cold period, the white wings rose again and brought the bird close enough for me to see it easily …. Yes, there it was, a Grey Ghost, a male Northern Harrier.

Who Was Here?






How I See Winter

In my meadow:

Saturday, March 1, 2014

“To put my world in order”


“I would feel dead if I didn't have the ability periodically to put my world in order with a poem. I think to be inarticulate is a great suffering, and is especially so to anyone who has a certain knack for poetry.”
—American poet Richard Wilbur (b. 1921).