Sunday, November 29, 2009
Don't think about the words. That's the only way I can make it through most Christmas carols without choking up. It's like singing at a funeral or a wedding. The emotion has to be kept at a safe distance, with just enough creeping through to convey the credible, heartfelt warmth for which those situations call. Perhaps it sounds cold, but the alternative is rafts of sniffling singers with tear-stained cheeks blubbering their way through every sad or joyous occasion imaginable. But Christmas? Holiday songs did not always make me cry. Actually, I'm not quite sure when the phenomenon began. One year, I picked up my guitar, started to sing Silent Night, and before the end of the second verse, I had begun to turn into a puddle. Silver Bells, an innocuous ditty about shopping, lights and bells, same thing. O Holy Night was like a burst levee, as was It Came Upon A Midnight Clear. What changed? Why was Christmas twisting a knife into my heart? So I worked on the distance. Now I can sing and play carols for hours on end with hardly a tear. Unless I think about the words. Because sometimes, especially at Christmastime, you just have to cry.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
When they coined the phrase "hopeless romantic", they may have well been describing my love affair with the Christmas season. My romantic vision of Christmas seemed to evolve over time. Elements of my childhood like cookies, music, snow, a live tree and intricate wrapping of each present with curling ribbon mingle with literature and pop culture to include caroling, mulled wine or a goodly port (thanks, Charles), decorating the house with golden ribbon, crystal and candles, parties, entertaining, watching It's A Wonderful Life, and gazing at the twinkling tree. I know I expect too much out of the holidays, and yet I'm still let down when they inevitably fall short of my lofty imaginings. Classic Christmas blues. But as a hopeless romantic, I continue to try, to believe, to still want it all. This year is the first in quite a few that we've put up a full size, 'real' tree. The living room smells like a pine forest, the LED's are twinkling away, and treasured ornaments were hung with care. It's a wonderful start. Maybe this year.......
Friday, November 13, 2009
Indian Summer came late. In shorts and a camisole, I contemplated the bare trees standing like skeletons on top of the ridge, silently begging for snow. Too many days of rain knocked down the last of their leaves, then swelled the river into thinking spring had returned. Flash floods covered paddocks and fields. Streams invaded parks and basements. Deer, chased from the forest by the encroaching waters, littered the highway in a bloody mess. An unseen heron left his gliding shadow on the swollen stream. What was this strange season residing between the full moon and Friday the 13th? And what did it mean?
Sunday, November 08, 2009
Pictures. Photos. I could play all day between the camera and the "darkroom" that is my computer. It continually amazes me how photography has changed. When I first started getting serious about photography as a hobby, my boyfriend (now husband) was patient and encouraging. While I already had an artist's eye for composition, I had to learn how to translate that vision to the reality of film. He'd give me assignments to help me understand aperture, shutter and film speed, depth of field, light metering and even filters. He bought me a good SLR and turned me loose. Every frame, I thought to myself, is this worth the film? I missed many a shot trying to be judicious and thrifty. Now, with the miracle of digital photography, we can click wantonly. It's not always a good thing. Sometimes I think that the art is forgotten in the desire of the moment, as well as the craft. Perhaps it is time to take a step back to basics. Is this shot really worth the megabytes? Is it still an art? Or is it just a craft?
Friday, November 06, 2009
I always dig the whole living history thing. Part drama, part history; when it's done well it really makes the subject come alive. A few weeks back, the Missouri Botanical Garden hosted their annual George Washington Carver Day. Paxton Williams from the Carver National Monument in Diamond, MO came to the garden and did a fine job of portraying Carver. He took us on a tour of the garden, talking about "his" life, teachings and discoveries. The walk ended in the Carver Garden, a 2005 addition, complete with a fountain, statue and natural amphitheater for teaching programs or just relaxing and listening to the flowers. Oh, you don't think flowers or plants can talk? Or that you can talk with them? Then you need to stop by the library and read about George Washington Carver. He wasn't just the peanut man. He was a gardener, an artist, a musician, a spiritualist, a botanist, an inventor, an environmentalist, a humanitarian, a poet, a teacher, and yes, a scientist. And pretty decent theatre.