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Our covenant with Winter:  that there will be space and time to contemplate, to examine and re-examine,  to be still.  In the rich pianissimo of deep snow, quiet things sing their subtlety, small things hold great significance, and you can see the wind.

I cannot imagine a life without this.

The tops of tall trees at Cyprus Lake in 2009. I keep using this photo because I love it so – you can see the shape of the fierce northeasterly winds that year.  The trees are bent like frost giants, trudging impossibly up a mountain…

I awake with the phone yelling in my ear (wrong number)- it’s 6:30am, cold, and still dark.  I stumble into routine and before I know it, the cats have been fed, the coffee is made, and I am waking while I read something random.  As the light rises to fill the window in front of me a thought-nugget registers – it’s a quotation from George Santayana (Life of Reason (1905) vol. 1, Introduction):

” Fanaticism consists in redoubling your efforts when you have forgotten your aim “

They’re good words.  Enough to shock me awake….but we all have to sometime.  Stay with me.


Santayana has the right of it – and not just for religious extremists, but also for myself and everyone I know.  It behooves me then, to remember Why I’m doing what I’m doing – while I’m doing it.  This is not so easy a thing when I have the bit in my teeth (these past two weeks for example).

There’s now a foot of snow in our laneway – enough to resist the sun today and stay with us. I exult in my boots, my gloves and coat. After last winter (which was not), I am so grateful for the white.

I dig a little into George S.  In vol. 4, ch.3 of the same work he says,

An Artist is a dreamer consenting to dream of the actual world.

Another thought that requires at least one hundred thousand chews.

whouff. I think that’s the word.

Then in chapter 8 of that voluminous work he says,

Nothing is really so poor and melancholy as art that is interested in itself and not in its subject.

Ah.  Is this why I struggle?  Or do I struggle to unwind the meaning here?  Semantic brain rises….

again: whouff.
But it is now 8, and I must leave off to begin the moving part of my day.  Kid to school, load in to studio, copy, cut & tape the 12-page choir piece for string player functionality (Friday rehearsal, Sunday gig), practise – but damn, I left my cello at home, go get it.   At 11:30, good friend Larry Jensen comes to rehearse for a gig we play together in a week (see below).  After five minutes of work on the first tune (a tricky, subtle, soaring instrumental that L wrote), I forget George & his chewables completely.  After the fourth song Larry plays for me (brand new, soft & hushed like winter) I’m wiping tears from my eyes, overcome.  We keep working,   I learn my parts, we tweak & pull, then some more and some more, and then we are done. 
I’m more than done actually.  I am entirely certain that I no longer need to do any work today (after 11 hours of string trios with the youth orchestra kids this past weekend and more teaching/coaching last night, that’s all the gas I have in my tank):  home, to light the woodstove.
That done, and a few other things besides I come back to this page to find that my trolling this morning also caught this from George Eliot (1819- 1880):
I think I should have no other mortal wants, if I could always have plenty of music.  It seems to infuse strength into my limbs and ideas into my brain.  Life seems to go on without effort, when I am filled with music.
How utterly appropriate is that?  Two Georges, one day.
So now the woodstove is roaring behind me and the window in front is dark once again.
‘night all.
(see below for more info on next tuesday’s gigs).
PS.  if you are here in town and can come to this show at the Bleeding Carrot, please do.  These are rare nuggets of timeless beauty, and the more of us that gather to share the more the memory will glow.  The juice you need to make it so is at the bottom of this post.
Earlier on the same night I mark World AIDS day at the Tom Thomson Art Gallery in Owen Sound with my friend Richard Mascall and possibly one or two other special incredibles.  Here’s the link for that  – come & observe the brief vigil with us, or take a few moments on your own to think about everyone we lost, those who bore witness to their deaths, and those who still carry the virus.
You’ll notice an overlap in times – the venues are not far apart, and I will be in both places.

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