Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Best of April


The immensely funny play, The Beard of Avon, at the relocated Pear Theater (still small, but maybe doubled in audience seating).  Who was that Shakespeare fellow, anyway?

For Shakespeare's 400th anniversary, deciding on my favorite of his lines.  Out of some two dozen, I guess I'd have to choose these, from the sonnet on my silver Möbius strip bracelet:
  Love is not love
   Which alters when it alteration finds,
   Or bends with the remover to remove.
   O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
   That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
   It is the star to every wand'ring bark,
   Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
   —Sonnet 116

Getting to hear Jane Hirshfield read new poems, on campus.  And the comfort these last lines of her poem I've found again, "Recalling a Sung Dynasty Landscape," brings:
  And the heart, unscrolled,
   is comforted by such small things:
   a cup of green tea rescues us, grows deep and large, a lake.

Getting to picnic with friends, on grilled lamb and eggplant, charry baba ganoush, farro tabouli with fresh mint, laughter and learning and the tiny fuzzy tickly feet of caterpillars—the stuff of feasts.

Getting to lunch with friends, at Chocolate on Pacific, and buy books next door at Bookshop Santa Cruz.  A spicy Fuego hot chocolate to begin, and then grilled swordfish with lemon and capers, to celebrate an April birthday.  Watching the play of surfers on the waves after, and then the afternoon sunlight all up the coast.

Getting to lunch with yet another friend at Shoreline Park, looking out at a sailboat on the lake, remembering wind in my sails, the play of water under me and all around.  (Lake Merritt years ago, in college, coming from that land-locked water-craving land.  Discovering also the campanile, frogs, philosophy, the letterpress, shared balconies, Lord Peter Wimsey, the stone faun in the green courtyard between dorms, blueberry doughnuts warm at midnight between bouts of studying.)

Orange tea buns, made with buttery croissant dough.

Sitting at a breezy table above the ocean at Pescadero, with sweaters, sandwiches, and books.  The rock of cormorants like a lesson of sorts, or a stanza.  Something substantial and specific to take note of.

Seeing the sprightly over-90 Donald Pippin at his piano conducting our old favorite Pocket Opera in the painted theater at the Legion of Honor on a Sunday afternoon.

While there, in that Greece-like setting on pine-shaded cliffs over a farther sea, eating in the walled patio (remembering the elderly couple drinking champagne that February on the roof of the Uffizi in Florence), and seeing the light-drenched Bonnards again.

The music of another old favorite—Donizetti—whose home in Bergamo I once visited.  His opera about the final love of Queen Elizabeth, Roberto Devereux.

Juncoes outside the front windows doing an exuberant dance of spring.  Full of t(h)rills and breathless levitations as a passage from Mozart.

How nice the washing machine delivery guys were, despite the awful afternoon they'd had and our long wait.  Having it slip in easily, over the grassy stones behind the house, and into place, the ancient dust mice swept away with the green push broom.  Remembering Jane Hirshfield's poem about the clothes dryer.
  When the body dies, where will they go,
   those migrant birds and prayer calls,
   as heat from sheets when taken from a dryer?
   (from "Three Mornings")

(Re)discovering the paintings of Henri Le Sidaner.

The extravagant deep purple blooming of the clematis on its lacy arbor against the house wall, and the grace notes of the lighter purple blossoms.




image:  Sunday, Henri Le Sidaner

Friday, April 29, 2016

To What End?


The end is drawing nigh (an adverb from Old English, esp. West Saxon and Anglian).  April, early spring, the season of renewal, the week before I revisit the Big Island, with memories everywhere in its fabric.  Of times there with my parents and with family friends; of my retreat to find some kind of peace again in the weeks after 9/11. 

I'll be taking my mother's ashes, which will be another end—but to the place of second chances, new beginnings, that place I've written about endlessly, Pu'uhonua o Honaunau, the Place of Refuge of the ancient Hawaiians.  (See the very end of this collection of remembered places.)

"In my end is my beginning," wrote T.S. Eliot in Four Quartets.  And also,
“time past and time future
what might have been and what has been
point to one end, which is always present.”

And to end with (and at the same time begin with), this from David Whyte's "Santiago."

and turning the corner at what you thought was the end
of the road, you found just a simple reflection,
and a clear revelation beneath the face looking back
and beneath it another invitation, all in one glimpse:
like a person and a place you had sought forever,
like a broad field of freedom that beckoned you beyond;
like another life, and the road still stretching on.



image:  Suspension Bridge, Super Beautiful Photos& Art

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

An Art of Balance


What I dream of is an art of balance.

—Henri Matisse
My life, I see, must be kept in a perfect balance (always precarious, like the Spirit of Eternal Repose that so fascinates me) between the immediate, physical, sensual world right here around me, in which I sit under the olive trees drinking Spring Cherry tea from my Italian mug painted with the Deruta Etrusca Raffaellesco dragon, and watching the swallows scythe the air over the gentle slope of the house roof; and the far, abstract, imaginative world of the mind out there somewhere, gathering fascinating facts from the ether and images of distant places I have visited or would visit one day.  Always yearning to learn something new, but happy to do so while sitting unmoving in my wicker chair.  Looking in, looking out.  Marrying the two in writing, with an antique garnet ring, a long strand of grass knotted into a circle.




Image:  "Harmonious balance," Stephen Warren (Simplicity, Elegance, and Grace of Nature)

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

This, That, and the Other


After a morning at the library I've put together a salad of mixed greens, chicken, blue cheese, apple slices, avocado, cumin-scented corn, and marjoram from the garden, finished with a mustardy vinaigrette.  (That my breakfast was a chocolate almond croissant from Voyageur du Temps, to make up for having to order a new washer and to deal with waterlogged clothes, I won't mention.)

My resolve is to make countless salads, all summer.  Never mind that my winter
soup-making didn't happen, after the yellow split pea with lemon zest and spiced yogurt.  Tomorrow, too, I'll make my favorite old Green Soup, harvesting sorrel from among the Vinca leaves to puree with two potatoes and a smidgen of nutmeg.

Among my notes, while looking up the split pea recipe, I find mention of
  • an incantation to prevent dog bites
  • James Abbott McNeill Whistler's Nocturne in Blue and Silver
  • Holy Ghost Canyon
  • Rocamadour
  • Modigliani's Cello Player
  • Modigliani in the Palazzo Blu
  • a vignette of a woman carrying a blood orange and an LP of Hummel's Septet in D Major
And I'm reminded how much I like Henri Le Sidaner.

My mind is scattered, unsettled by the edgy spring wind and the things to do that niggle, and I want only to crawl under the covers and get warm and let it still.




image:  Henri Le Sidaner, La FenĂȘtre du Midi, Villefranche-sur-mer