Views from Annie's Cabin

miscellaneous musings on aging and living and loving

Rainy Day & Ginger Lilies

I love rainy days in the Dark Corner………days when it’s twilight from morning till night.  For those are the days we steal away from the world.  Those are the days when we rock on the porch, listening to the rain patter on the rooftop and hear the water rushing over the rock waterfalls below.  These are the days when we catch up with each other, say whatever comes to mind, or simply rock in comfortable silence.  These are the days when we know we have the world all to ourselves because no one’s coming up the mountain in the dark pelting rain.

These are our days of quiet intimacy.

So we sipped champagne mimosas and rocked and talked and laughed and played 50’s on 5.  And danced barefoot on the porch.  In and out of the rain.  We splashed up to WordSplash’s porch and sat there for a while….letting the cool mist drift over us on that open porch.  We were groundhogs with lots of different holes to run up and down and round-about.  We were grownup children again………simply loving life and each other.

And later, drifting back out to the porch, rain now a gentle mizzling rather than a roaring downpour—that’s when I spied it!  white butterfly wings nodding over the stair rail heading down to the river.  My heart skipped a beat and I ran barefooted to see if it was what I thought—and hoped—it would be.  For I’ve been watching and waiting and checking the green bud pods daily, watching them swell into separate little tippy-points full of hidden promise and that wondrous delicious transportive spicy scent that is a Ginger Lily in full and luscious bloom.

Ahhhhh…what a blessing to an already blessed and glorious day!  What a gift….and what a surprise.  And yet it was a surprise I’d been anticipating and dreaming of for a full long year.  A passalong plant from two dear friends, dug up from their garden on the day after their wedding and plopped, full of mud, wrapped in newspapers, in the trunk of our jeep.  As Jane Austen would say, “I knew how it would be!”  But I had to wait for it…I had to watch and hope and peep and yearn for it….so that when it did  finally burst into creamy white bloom, its scent reaching me first in the damp misty air—Oh Yes, indeed…I knew how it would be!

And then, knowing that others were on their scented way into bloom, in the bed beside the screened porch, I reached out and SNIPPED that first lovely flower!   So now, I’m gift-wrapped in spiciness…..both coming and going.  Inside and out.  In the soft summer rain.  On this enchanted…and bedazzling…afternoon.

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JOURNEY HOME

MARCH 1962

CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA

MAGNOLIA CEMETERY

 

Rose Marie

 

“The only thing constant in this life is change,” thought Rose, as she watched the priest drop earth to earth on Celeste’s magnolia-draped casket. The service had been lovely and brief, the traditional Episcopal Burial of the Dead and as the parties stepped from their cars into the cemetery a cold drizzling rain began to fall. The umbrellas made a stately parade through the narrow winding lane to the tent where chairs were set up to receive the mourners.

 

“Rain blesses the dead,” she recalled, feeling that remembrance infuse a little strength and reserve into her forlorn spirits. Septuagenarian friend of now three generations of the women of this family, Rose Marie walked alone following the others, her black umbrella dripping as she filed along the narrow path, before being ushered into a seat near the rear of the tent. Looking about her at the small crowd in attendance, she recognized the safe and distant world Celeste Fairfax had chosen to make her own in this lifetime, and thought wryly that most of the women there looked the same, all looked the way Celeste had looked ever since leaving the convent and marrying her prominent Charleston attorney: brushed and polished, carefully thin and elegantly dressed.

 

“Still, too young to die,” sighed Rose, “but then they all seem to die young,” she reflected, remembering Celeste’s mother Clara, and her death at the age of 36. And now Celeste, too, dead at 40.

 

Her mind running back in time, Rose’s heart ached for both of them, mother and daughter, but realized at the same time that, no matter how untimely, Celeste’s death was more understandable, more explainable, more easily accepted, than Clara’s had been. Celeste, whom Rose had known since her birth, had always been a delicate, fragile child, ethereal one might even say, finding her only real passion in music; whereas Clara had been strong and vital, more at ease flying over pastures on her horse, or being held voluntary captive in her remote mountain studio, alone with palette, paint and easel. Celeste had escaped into the ancient world of revered composers; Clara was determined to create something new out of the old, determined that her own stamp of individuality should make even ancient subjects live again. “But,” Rose thought, arguing with herself, “Celeste did the same with the soulful interpretation she brought to her music—-so they were alike as artists—–where the line was drawn was in their connection to the earth, to the physical world around them.”

 

Her breast rising with a deep sigh, Rose saw in the depths of her heart and in the immediacy of her sorrow that it was Clara who had been the whole woman and Celeste, alas, the woman manqué. Deliberately choosing to cut herself off from the physical side of life, the side that, to her, defined her mother’s shame and rebellion, Celeste made the conscious decision to live an unsoiled life, a life clean and tidy and untainted by passion and grief. She wanted her life to be safe. As safe as it was and had been in the convent, and as predictable; there’d be no heartbreak for her if she abandoned all that her mother had stood for and represented. And this, marveled Rose, was what carried the numbing shock of tragedy in this family. For both women had lost.

 

“Yet remnants of both lives, of both hearts and souls, still breathe right here, right now in this moment, right here where I’m sitting, laying yet another one down to sleep in the rain, she thought, brushing away the single slow tear that coursed her cheek.

 

“It’s funny how the mystery of genes keeps memories alive,” she thought, her eyes searching for and finding young Victoria Wren Fairfax on the front row, and from her place in the rear, watching the profile of that young woman, Rose became aware of a familiar sense of warmth flooding over her, a sense of fondness she knew from 50 long years ago and that had never left her. Feeling that flush of warmth in spite of the surrounding chilly rain, Rose gave a private nod to an old friend, an old private companion whom she called the Ghost of Time. And in acknowledging the presence of that old familiar friend, Rose, with a heart more heavy than lifted, knew that she had another part to play in the lives of these women, both dead and alive.

 

Gentle Reader—-after a summer of many diversions, I’m finally settling down to writing again.  And so—–to galvanize me into ACTION!!!  I’m posting a little teaser of how my story starts……..hope you like it!!

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FEBRUARY!

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Well, here it is, near the end of February—and thus far I’ve survived my most dangerous month.  The river water reflected my thoughts and moods this morning, though….a little wobbly, yet still bright in the sunshine.  Spring has arrived early here in my beloved Dark Corner mountains—jonquils are nodding, Lenten roses are raising their heads to the sun and lo and behold first thing I saw from my window this morning was my Fortunia Vitata in bloom!!!  Glory be—I thought I’d lost her in last construction work, but…she’s a survivor!  a beautiful, delicate, gently painted survivor…one of the oldest azaleas and I think rare nowadays.  So that lifted my heart and straightened out the wobbles a bit!

But still…perhaps it’s where I am in the journey of life—I marvel at the mercurial variety of my thoughts and memories and their commensurate moods……..And my DREAMS!!!  whoof……..it’s like all of the days and minutes and seconds of  my life have been put into one of those big tumbler machines and someone (devil or angel??) sits there turning the giant handle while these fragments rearrange themselves in kaleidoscope colors and patterns.  I awake in astonishment!— at the brightness, the sharpness, the muddled accuracy of all those memories….some are delightful, some a bit disconcerting, but they’re all the composite me, which is a little wild when I stop to think about it.  Have you, Dear Reader, ever cried in your dreams, only to awaken and find that you have real tears standing in your eyes?  Or better yet, have you ever awakened  laughing out loud?!  I have and it’s truly delightful—one of God’s little mysterious gifts……

But another side of this journey is that I find “my old ones” attend me more frequently these days—which does wondrous things to my heart.  My wonderful mother whom I long to see again, whose wicked wit I miss and whose cloudy blue eyes I see each and every morning reflected in my mirror.  My gentleman father whose “old school” manners and values are almost a thing of the past these days….and my blithe sister Tudie who left this world far too soon.  But the peculiar irony is that….in missing them, in longing for them to warm my life again—they actually ARE warming my life, coloring my world in all the soft and brilliant shades of memory.  And those memories….live.  And so…in ways I can’t quite understand, ways I’m probably not meant yet to understand, my old ones are nearer to me today, ever-present with me every day.  Closer to me than when we were alive and living down the way or in another town.  Closer to me…when I walk by my river and feel the warmth of the morning sun on my shoulders and back, when I dream and they make cameo appearances or steal the whole show, when I’m alone or when I’m in a crowd and have that deja vue all over again……..

And all this, Gentle Reader, is what comes from watching the river current dance in the sun….this sweet early spring, end-of-February morning.  What a life!  What a world!  and what an amazing thing memory is………

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Ringing out the Old…..

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I’m getting used to wondering where all the time’s gone…staring in some amazement at the backward pages of my (19thc) printed-book calendar and realizing I’ve forgotten to keep up with all the days fleeing by.  But today—as this first new day of the New Year dawns, I’m trying to remember how to do all these 21st century things that constitute a blog!  Oh dear, oh well…..whatever.

WordSplash has been busy, though, of late—or at least her creative side has been caught up in a whirlwind of activity.  All new adventures for me.  New projects, new creations, and I’m still not sure what to make of them!

First crazy project was re-inventing my old wedding gown, a beauty that’s lain packed up & preserved in a box on my shelf for 47 years or more!  So, like I did with my old family linens that had been passed down, daughter to daughter, for four generations, I called upon my Needleworking Wizardress to refashion these old beloved memories…into new ones.  And my old wedding gown has now become the new curtains that gentle the afternoon sun in WordSplash.

The surprise I’ve discovered is the joy I’m having just gazing at the exquisite silk and lace as they dance in the filtered light.  Many memories are preserved in that fabric….beginning with the memory of Mother taking me shopping for the dress in 1968, for its first incarnation was as my Debutante dress.  Looking at gown after gown, trying on a few, turning in the mirror, asking her opinion, until FINALLY!  the right dress found me.  It was perfect and there’s happy photograph taken of us that magical night:  me, Mama, Daddy, and my escort (who was destined to watch that same gown—with me in it—walk slowly down that long red-carpeted aisle).  But of course by then the gown had had sleeves fashioned for it, as was the tradition:  Deb gown to Bridal gown….just add sleeves and veil.  The nine-foot train was already there……

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 The original 1969 gown & train

My new wedding dress curtains

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So, I reckon WordSplash is already calling my name in this New Year 2017….for there are many more memories and stories bundled up here in my studio in the woods.  I wonder what shapes those old friends will take, newly refashioned from both memory and living time ?  I can’t wait to walk over that little foot-bridge, and see what lies hidden in the folds of silken memory……….

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The Lost Days of Summer

So—-where’d July go in such a hurry, pray tell?!  One day it was the 4th of July with Holly’s succulent smoked ribs and all the attendant RED, WHITE, and BLUE and then just as suddenly—-VAROOM! it’s the 25th and all I’ve got to show for it is a dozen (high calibre) junk books read…..abed with my dawg …and a total immersion into the life and work of Thomas Wolfe and Max Perkins….and a further immersion into the Charleston Literary Renaissance of the 1920’s and the poetry of Josephine Pinckney.  Not bad, I reckon, for a cranky ol’ lady laid up with a mean virus and an unholy allergic reaction to penicillin—-which is what happened to my month of July.

But—(sweet breath of summer air)—Miss Grace and I walked by the river this morning in the early morning light and I began to emerge from my funk.  Yet it had to be early and quick, that morning walk, for even the wild cats are seeking refuge from the heat in the soft leafy arbor of yellow jess and porcelain vine.

I’ve been tested and I’m not sure I’ve yet passed the test.  All I really want are the cool breezes of October and to know the snakes have travelled back to their dens and the bears to their lairs!  I want the bugs to be gone and the air around me to be soft and sweet, not heavy and suffocating.  If I were QUEEN OF THE WORLD summer would last the month of June and then would gently morph into the cool sweet days of autumn…but then—oh dear how soon I forget!  I’d miss our ripe heirloom tomato sandwiches (on white bread with Duke’s mayo) and the sweet sweet fresh corn and golden garden squash.  Oh, and the blueberries!  I’d miss the blueberries……Oh, and you know what ELSE I’d miss?  Yep—–those sweet summer juleps in a frosty silver tumbler with a long silver muddler and a sprig of fresh mint tickling my nose!  Okay, okay….maybe I’m fixing to pass the test after all!  Summer’s bounty is upon me and I’m loving and appreciating it all.  And am reminded again of Churchill’s words of wisdom:  Nothing worthwhile is easy.  Amen to that……….

 

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Scents, Sense & Hammock Days of Summer

IMG_1075Well, the “season” is over and summer’s upon me…..Strawberry Festival was a success and all the end-of-season book club luncheons were lovely and fun—and now are put to rest until the season resumes in October.  So the lazy, hazy days of summer loom before me——and WordSplash.  Even my dreams are helping me write!  Two scenes were colored by last night’s dreams and I pulled out my little writing pad with the lighted pen and wrote them down so’s not to forget….and did that feel good!!

And the other day, in a meeting, the facilitator asked the participants to introduce themselves and say what they were looking forward to this summer.  I heard myself saying, “Hammock Days are upon me beginning tomorrow.”  Do you know how delicious that sounded to me–then—and still?!  Because the next day actually found me IN the HAMMOCK and (oh, dare I admit this) with a junk book!!  Now, I believe in good junk books, but this was a step over the edge for me:  my first ever Nora Roberts romance!  It was just what the doctor ordered, too—predictable, facile, compelling enough to keep my frayed attention.  And good.  Perfect even for what my mind needed……So Nora, Miss Grace and I all lollygogged in the hammock, reading, drifting, pulling the ribbon chain to keep us swinging every now and then……

The next day I realized summer was even more upon me, for I found my Jean Nate bath splash….!  now that’s a TRUE sign of summer for me, and has been since my Media Arts days at USC—pre Ph.D. days—so a LONG LONG time ago.  My favorite scent of summer…..

And the next day found me furiously splashing words around in WordSplash, tackling one of the hardest sensory passages I know I’m going to have to write.  I just closed my eyes and plunged and my whole being drifted up into another powerful tragic dangerous world, but one that he’d survived…Edward, that is…..

And today?  Who knows?  Miss G and I walked in the park, admired the peonies in bloom and the morning glories climbing their trellis; foxgloves are velvety and dapper, awaiting a fox’s dainty little paw; hummingbirds are chittering madly at one another and Paul’s Himalayan Musk Rose is clambering higher and higher up the trees toward the sky.

And me—well, I reckon it’s another day of scents, sense, & hammock rocking for me.  And guess what?  Nora’s “bonus story” is called “Blithe Images”—makes sense to me!

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Saturday in the Hammock

Last warm day before a cold snap.  In the morning I worked on our new garden patch, hoping and praying there’ll be enough sun to grow a few 
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decent tomatoes.  Then, knowing a trip to Greenville was slated for the evening, I betook myself to the hammock for the afternoon…..with a book that’s turning my heart inside out.

 

Perhaps you can read the title from here:

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George.

Where do I start, and how to describe the thunder and ice and clouds and mists and fragrances and hope that it’s brought to my heart?  How do I begin to describe the passages I’ve traveled reading it?

At first I was perplexed, then intrigued, and then didn’t want to continue reading it until or unless or when I had the time to really read it.  I mean—to listen to the words, to enjoy and understand the leaps and somersaults of the words, the surprises they hold when laced together in unfamiliar patterns.  Nina George, like Dylan Thomas, LOVES THE WORDS!

So I kept reading a few pages, then stopping to breathe, then picking it up, then stopping to breathe…..at least five times I’ve started and stopped, reading the beginning chapters over and over again but knowing I didn’t have the time to really take the ride…..till yesterday….in the hammock.

Then I was enchanted and curious and charmed; then my heart started breaking and I fell beneath sorrow; then I laughed the deep clean bountiful laugh of a heart in love with a book.  Oh, and did I mention the words——-??

It’s so unbearably good that I had to put it down after each chapter…again to breathe, to savor, to rewind, to recover my balance.  And that’s when I’d pull the beribboned chain and swing and swing and swing….and close my eyes and let that world and my world blend and merge…..and let it teach me its spells.

And what is it teaching me?  It’s teaching me to take more risks…with my own writing.  And it’s teaching me to take more loving time for life itself; to tender each moment, each breeze, each scent upon the air; to prize and gather the fleeting beauty and hold it as a treasure in my heart; to take the hard little kernel of bitterness that’s managed to stay lodged way way down deep and rub it with frankincense and myrrh till it dissolves ….thereby dispelling all bereftness of soul…..

The book is —well, here are the notes I scrawled yesterday.  Read for yourself, Gentle Reader:

“It’s too intensely beautiful and poignant and truthful—I can’t stand it!  I need champagne!—–

“…and so!…out of the hammock in full tousled habille…I find my old faded straw hat from halcyon days of “junk” excursions in the South China Seas with ex-pat girlfriends—steered by a fearless captain with his toes, island hopping (“to buy a hat!”) before dropping anchor to be served wine and cheese and fruit after which a climb down the ladder for a swimmy swirl in the magic waters……..oh and with that old island straw hat and my old faded black ‘everything else,’  I painted my lips baby doll pink and and returned in magic to my hammock with a cold split of champagne….…talking my soul into taking more risks…and allowing my heart to believe…..”

Need I say more, oh Gentle Reader?  Other than I’ve never read anything like it before—and probably never ever will.  But this one’s already become an old and cherished friend……..

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Sundials and Heartache

Last night, in the soft quiet hours of the morning, the ones that Fitzgerald called the loneliest, I found myself once again wandering the night in Abbey the Book Barn, searching the shelves for something to read.  Nothing with a plot or story line would do; my mind was too weighted down for amusement, too fragile to enter into anyone else’s sorrow.  I’m living with the knowledge that I’m having to send a most beloved companion, my Ragdoll cat Mr. Darcy, over the Rainbow Bridge Sunday morning.  He’s given me joy for ten years and he’s been a true and faithful companion, but now he’s struggling with a debilitating disease and it’s time for me to be merciful instead of selfish.  Hence my sorrow; hence my midnight hours’ wanderings…….

I first leafed through Gertrude Jekyll’s WOOD AND GARDEN, enjoying the straightforward, unblowsy chronicle of her gardening adventures.  And thanking her for her courage and adventuresome spirit, for, in later life, crippled with myopia, she undertook to learn the art of photography. And so her books are graced with her own photographs of the gardens and walks and pergolas she’s describing.  Nice, pleasant, engaging and soothing midnight reading……..but then, aha…..I ran into a reference she gives to Mrs. Earle’s gardening books and that’s when I settled into true serendipity.  Mrs. Alice Morse Earle’s OLD TIME GARDENS (1901, MacMillan) is one treasure I own and the other treasure is her SUNDIALS AND ROSES OF YESTERDAY (1902, MacMillan; 1971, Tuttle).  My copy of SUNDIALS was “Officially withdrawn from Timberland Regional Library” in Olympia, Washington.  How sad for a book to be withdrawn from a library; how fortuitous that it landed in Abbey my Book Barn; how perfectly wonderful that my eyes and hands found it last night….when I needed it.

The subtitle of the book is “Garden Delights Which Are Here Displayed in Very Truth And Are Moreover Regarded As Emblems.”  With 240 (!) photographs of sundials from all over the world, from all centuries, from cathedrals to cottage gardens. Poets and philosophers are quoted.  Perhaps my favorite chapter (though that’s hard to say) is “The Charm and Sentiment of Sun-Dials.”  At Grey Friars Churchyard, Stirling, England, is this motto:  “I Am A Shadow, So Art Thou/ I Mark Time—Dost Thou?”

And Rossetti, comparing love and sundials:  “Stands it not by the door?/Love’s Hour—?/Its eyes invisible/Watch till the dark thin-thrown shade/Be born,—yea, till the journeying line be laid/Upon the point that notes the spell.”  Oh, to mark the hour of falling in love by the shadow of the gnome following the sun in its course………….Oh my……

And this one, a bit of timely forewarning, on the sundial of Thornby Church, Northamptonshire:

MARK WELL MY SHADE, AND SERIOUSLY ATTEND/THE COMMON LESSON OF A SILENT FRIEND,/FOR TIME AND LIFE SPEED RAPIDLY AWAY;/NEITHER CAN YOU RECALL THE FORMER DAY./ YOU ARE NOT ABLE TO RECALL THE PAST, BUT LIVE THOU THIS DAY AS IF THE LAST.

Yes, so utterly true, so haphazardly forgotten in our razzle dazzle frenetic times—no, one cannot call back a former day, nor can one re-call the past……..

And this one, Oxfordshire, 1691:

A MOMENT—MARK HOW SMALL A SPACE/THE DIAL SHOWS UPON THE FACE; YET WASTE BUT ONE—AND YOU WILL SEE/OF HOW GREAT MOMENT IT CAN BE.

And so, the night unfolded.  Me, with a beloved companion’s last journey on my mind, reading what men throughout time have had to say about mortality, and how they’ve immortalized those thoughts—for us to take to heart—by channeling the sun and shadow to mark the passing of our days.  “FOR THE NIGHT COMETH.”

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Maddening Technology!

I’ve said it before and alas, I’ll say it again—I’m still tarrying in the 19th century!  As hard as I try, as often as I try, as intensely I try…I cannot break comfortably into the 21st (Hey, whatever happened to the 20th–???)!!  And that distressing fact became apparent again yesterday when I posted a new blog called “Midnight Serendipity.”  Somehow my “share” button got selfish or stubborn or recalcitrant or something.  And my post didn’t swish out to any mailboxes or Facebook accounts.

 

So my fabulous Bloggy Guru is going to try to help me get back on this ol’ technological rocking horse and get me up to speed again.  Hence this little diatribe……..

 

Thank you, Miz Guru Girl, Fay Choban!  You da BOMB!!

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Midnight Serendipity

Well, another interesting night unfolded last night.  Lots of rain, windows open, steady drummingIMG_2161 of water off the eaves and the incessant background roar of the rising creek waters.  I punched pillows and tossed and turned and discombobulated both husband and dog, so ultimately just gave into my own restlessness and threw on my faded old sweats and trundled back to Abbey—-Abbey the Book Barn— always my sanctuary, always my midnight cocoon.  And once I accept the fact that I’m wide awake and up for the duration of some unknown stretch of time, then I relax and look around and say to my books, now which of you all are gonna jump down and keep me company tonight?  And this evening, the first book that jumped off the shelf and into my hands and found me curled in my sagging blue reading chair, was Alexander Woollcott’s compendium of readings for men in the Armed Services—from 1943.  My father’s own copy, it bore a bookplate from Southern Bell (“Ma Bell” he used to call her), which reads:  “Your Company hopes this book will serve as a reminder of our appreciation for the job you are doing and of our eagerness for the day when you will return to us.  Southern Bell Telephone and Telegraph Co., Christmas 1943.”  And the free front end paper bears my father’s own inscription, in his handwriting, so uniquely his own and one which never fails to make my heart jump when I see it.  So I held the book, studied the book, tendered the book.  And then read a few passages—some Edna St. Vincent Millay, Robert Frost, some Thoreau.

And Thoreau reminded me of Jane Kenyon (who’d kept me company a few long nights ago), and a line from one of her poems (“It was/the author of Walden, wasn’t it/ who made a sacrament of saying no”) so I pulled a 1937 Modern Library, Scribner’s edition of Walden and Other Writings of Henry David Thoreau off the shelf.  A nice weighty volume, perfect fit for the hands and lap.  A real nice feeling book.  And wandered around the woods with Thoreau for a while, soft lamplight sitting in for evening starlight.   And while I like Thoreau, would like to step back to 1845 and share a walk with him at the Pond, he’s prone to indulge in what’s known in the colloquial parlance of today as TMI (too much information!).  But he had a passion for wise and honorable living which I admire—and always learn from.  A moral philosopher with plenty of time to think and codify his thoughts into his own moral philosophy.  A man, too, with his own spirituality…….

So I read his chapter on “Walking” and took it to heart.  I’m that much of a hermit myself.  Then I dipped into the chapter on “Visitors” and loved it even better than the one on walking.  It made me smile.  “I had three chairs in my house; one for solitude, two for friendship, three for society.”  Aha!  pretty sensible…..but then he frets about the problem of society being “so close” to him:  “One inconvenience I sometimes experienced in so small a house, the difficulty of getting to a sufficient distance from my guest when we began to utter the big thoughts in big words.  You want room for your thoughts to get into sailing trim and run a course or two before they make their port.  The bullet of your thought must have overcome its lateral and ricochet motion and fallen into its last and steady course before it reaches the ear of the hearer, else it may plow out again through the side of his head….I have found it a singular luxury to talk across the pond to a companion on the other side.”  WOW, how did I not know—until the midnight hours of a lonely old night—that young Thoreau possessed a practical sense of humor?!  He and I will indeed take some more leisurely strolls through Time…..(I love his “big thoughts in big words”!)

But I laid  him down with thoughts of his lonesome spirituality still curling around the edges of my mind.  And sat with the comfortable book in my lap, and thought about a man living in such self-imposed isolation and how, in so doing, he becomes intimate with his own sense of spirituality.  Which led my eyes to wander over to the piano at my side where the light shared between keyboard and reading chair shone onto another one of my old favorites, J. W. N. Sullivan’s Beeethoven:  His Spiritual Development.  So I pulled it down from its sitting place (nestled in with Chopin’s Letters) and browsed around its thoughts and philosophies a bit.  This is one of the books I’ve always kept in my car against the unexpected traffic delay or long post office line; Shakespeare’s Sonnets is another one.  But Sullivan’s tracing of Beethoven’s spiritual development through his music compositions is a real tour de force–-yet quite approachable for a lay musician, although the book is best read while listening to the music; that way you can link the words and the mounting power of the music together and then it’s like—WOW, I see! Thank you!  But last night I was captured by a phrase that Beethoven had copied out in his own hand and framed and kept permanently on his desk:  “I am that which is.  I am all that was, that is, and that shall be.”  A bit of Eastern mysticism overlaying or intertwined with good old fashioned Catholic and Anglican credos.

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Well, such was my SERENDIPITY on a rainy old night long past midnight.  The unexpected pleasure of one thing leading delightfully to another in the unstructured course of events, resulting in that ultimate comfort of after-midnight friendship:  Me and My Books.

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