Monday, January 31, 2011
The year of the tiger is almost done. I love the photo of this sleeping cat, all paws and jungle dreams—appropriate for his or her last reigning days.
It has been a grumbling, growling year, and we must hope the rabbit will be gentler.
image: Grote luie kat, Olmen, Eddy Van 3000
Saturday, January 29, 2011
It's always good to be in Santa Fe, whatever time of year—though I prefer late spring and summer when the colors are intense, and then the bright days of September and October, with Fiesta marking the change to fall.
image: Adobe buildings, Santa Fe, karol m
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
As I leave for Santa Fe, again, I'm pulled back to myself by this poem by Billy Collins, which remarks cheerily on the other end of the time away.
The black porcelain lamp
painted with boughs of cherry blossoms
still stands on its end table,
unlit, the little chain untouched,
just the way I left it,
just the way it remained while I was off
leaning into the prow of a boat,
doused with spray, heading for a limestone island,
or sitting at the base of a high Celtic cross
eating a green apple.
While I balanced a pan of hot water on a stone wall
and shaved outside a cottage
overlooking the Irish Sea,
this stack of books, this chair, and paperweight
were utterly still, as they are now.
And you, red box of matches on the floor,
you waited here too, faithful as Penelope,
while I saw the tiny fields
disappear under the wing of my plane,
or swam up and down the flowing Corrib River.
As I lay in a meadow near Ballyvaughan,
ankles crossed, arms behind my head,
watching clouds as they rolled in—
billowing, massive, Atlantic-fresh—
you all held your places in these rooms,
stuck to your knitting,
waited for me to stand here again,
bags at my feet, house key still in hand,
admiring your constancy,
your silent fealty, your steadfast repose.
(Picnic, Lightning, University of Pittsburgh Press)
image: Christie B. Cochrell, Celtic Crosses, Lindisfarne
Monday, January 24, 2011
Saturday, January 22, 2011
Another January I went walking in the hills, and was enchanted to come across some lovely ruinous columns, white limestone weathered green, more likely in the countryside around Lake Como than there in the Los Altos Hills.
I've driven past them since, always surprised to see them so close to home.
images: Christie B. Cochrell, Columns
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Coming from a place where things don’t thaw until May, I fall in love with California every year again on January days like these—heartbreakingly gorgeous, their fragile warmth and promise surely doomed.
My glad escape outdoors from in- has been often symbolic, a sore-needed release into the world from some prison of mind or senses, from restrictive rooms or rules that kept me from myself.
My memories of Januaries past include finding a little house abandoned in the Santa Cruz mountains, its door ajar; passing a field of horses on the way to Petaluma, and stopping to buy sweet cherry cider from a stand; brilliant hillsides of yellow mustardweed along the back road to Los Gatos and a café in Old Town; the January term courses I took at Mills—Royal Scandals one year, and Bay Area Museums another (sitting on the almost Greek promontory above the Golden Gate Bridge one morning waiting for the Legion of Honor to open)—getting to sit out on a sun porch in the afternoons and later grilling hot Italian sausages in the dorm fireplace or buying fresh cracked crab; in recent years driving down to the mission in San Juan Bautista and eating enchiladas in the flower-covered patio at Jardines de San Juan while bright-colored roosters roam among the tables.
Another year I wrote this January journal, telling of other unseasonable seasonal pleasures.
image: Christie B. Cochrell, San Juan Bautista
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Monday, January 17, 2011
Odd—there is no sun in this apparently dark room, and yet the colors give me the impression of the quintessence of sun, a moment of intensest light.
John La Farge is an artist unknown to me, though I fell in love with his stained glass windows at the museum in Boston. And I do know the artist's great-grandson, who lives in Santa Fe and went to school with friends of mine and is the son of the author of Laughing Boy.
image: John La Farge (American, 1835-1910). Flowers on a Japanese Tray on a Mahogany Table, 1879, Shooting Brooklyn
Sunday, January 16, 2011
Chagall, that often whimsical artist, leads me to other whimsy—
Sweet Moon, I thank thee for thy sunny beams!
(Nick Bottom, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, V,1,2114)
I remember, too, the lovely stained glass windows I've recently seen in the New American Wing at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Butterflies and Foliage, Peonies Blown in the Wind, The Infant Bacchus, The Fish, Morning Glories. All exquisite and full of light.
image: Chagall's Window at All Saints Church Tudeley, Kent UK, Klaus D. Peter, Wiehl, Germany
Saturday, January 15, 2011
Friday, January 14, 2011
Here are some more images to chase away the gray . . .
|Sunlight shining through a glass of tea and refracting on a book, Erik Vanden, Berlin, Germany|
|The entrance of the Mosque of Ibn Tulun, with sunlight shining through, Buyoof|
|Dust Motes Dancing in the Sunbeams, aka Sunbeams or Sunshine.|
Vilhelm Hammershoi, Ordrupgaard Museum, Charlottenlund, Denmark
Thursday, January 13, 2011
I’ve been lamenting the lack of sun in these winter days, especially in the northern climes which I’ve been traveling through. Flying over Greenland and the vast reaches of northern Canada, I learned what it means not to see the sun all day at all, although the sky is clear. In London it gets dark by four o’clock this time of year, and daylight doesn’t come until around nine—and then hazily, without much conviction. In Boston there were days of snow, and now it’s rainy again here, so skies are gray through the expanse of my office window.
Gray, eternal gray. The new lightbulb at home that stimulates sunlight might or might not make me feel more cheerful on some subliminal level, but the light it casts is more subdued than normal wattage, so I’m still conscious of feeling gray outside and in.
A picture of sunflowers from an old Firenze e Toscana calendar cheers me (along with bright and brassy music by the Rolling Stones). Like them, I realize, I turn by nature towards the sun as inescapably as if drawn by a powerful magnet.
image: Sun in the Pieniny, Poland, Bartosz Kosiorek