GOING FOR THE GOLD … FOLIAGE

Being mindful of what’s right in front of us can always be a challenge. Here are 10 new items from my end.

~*~

  1. We’re well into the foliage watch. Weather plays into it, too. Heavy rain, followed by glorious clear. Or sunlight blazing against slate-gray clouds. As for the chores, in advance of winter? “I’ve been on my feet all day.”
  2. Each October I revisit the symphonies of Charles Ives. It’s not just his birthday month but also an acknowledgement of his deep New England roots. The annual tradition often leads to the symphonies of George Whitefield Chadwick and then John Knowles Paine. Inevitably, I wind up with the one symphony and the piano concerto by Amy Beach. Big, magnificent, often richly Romantic pieces, for the most part. Wish they were much, much better known by the public. (For more.)
  3. A stay-at-home morning: pad about, get some writing and reading in, finally shower and dress at 2 p.m. And then? Swim in the indoor pool.
  4. Am wondering what might have happened if I’d achieved “success” – at any number of points. I would have wound up moving along that groove the rest of my life, likely without exploring many of the other facets I now find overlapping.
  5. My third-floor lair and my loft in the barn are both tree houses!
  6. My wife resisted when I insisted on the dishwasher. How much she objected! My, my, how that’s changed! These days she even argues it can be cheaper than hand-washing the plates and flatware in the sink.
  7. We live close to the state university but partake of so little of its arts programming. Even now that we know where to park.
  8. Bought a new calendar but back home saw it was for the wrong year – this one, rather than next. Still, the illustrations are marvelous.
  9. To gain the reader’s trust is the central issue of each work. It’s how transformation through action across time connects.
  10. Degrees of Truth? Now this really gets complicated.

~*~

Stone angel in the city cemetery behind the Quaker meetinghouse.
Stone angel in the city cemetery behind the Quaker meetinghouse.
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LIBERALLY LIBRA

Being mindful of what’s right in front of us can always be a challenge. Here are 10 new items from my end.

~*~

  1. How quickly the sun goes down these days. How quickly, darkness descends.
  2. Even if I could read a new novel a day, in a year I could not catch up with a single week of publication. So many good writers! How on earth could I possible keep abreast of them? Recognize names, even? It’s hopeless!
  3. Every autumn I have to be on guard. Take my meds. Something in the air often takes me out, sometimes for a week or two, with something resembling “flu like symptoms” that remains a mystery to my doctors.
  4. Moonlight at the lighthouse: silvery on shimmering surface surrounded by smoky blue.
  5. Sometimes I look at the barn and think of Joseph Albers. All the paintings he made with only three colors, each one a square band within another.
  6. What a wonderful fall tradition, these potted mums! Especially since we have so few flowers left that can be cut and brought indoors. Even the green leaves must feel they’ve overstayed. There’s something tired, browning, even before any blight.
  7. Take care driving the back roads at night. Much wildlife’s out and about roving.
  8. End of the season at York Animal Kingdom comes sharply. The pygmy goats in the pen by the highway are gone, as are the Ferris wheel cars by the beach.
  9. The goldfinches have lost their yellow. How sudden and uniform their molting! Back to winter’s gray duster c0at.
  10. In our autumn foliage, one day can turn everything. Or even overnight.

~*~

It's all angles. I love strolling around town.
It’s all angles. I love strolling around town.

 

HARVARD’S GREAT THEATER

The aspirations are obvious.
The aspirations are obvious.

 

Instead of gargoyles, just look ...
Instead of gargoyles, just look …

 

Memorial Hall in Cambridge is a high Victorian Gothic building erected in honor to the Harvard University men who died defending the Union in the American Civil War. One end of the structure holds Sanders Theatre, an intimate, wood-toned Globe-style auditorium – one we treasure for its Christmas Revels productions each year. The other half of the building embraces the Harry Potter-like Annenberg dining hall. The two parts connect at a marble-lined hallway engraved with the names of the fallen Harvard students.

 

Even on a cold, blustery day, it's hard not to be impressed when approaching its entrance.
Even on a cold, blustery day, it’s hard not to be impressed when approaching its entrance.

 

Imagine trumpets from every portal. Not that the Revels do it ... yet.
Imagine trumpets from every portal. Not that the Revels do it … yet.

 

Greater Boston is a rich and varied destination – the Hub of New England, or the Universe, as they used to say. Living a little more than an hour to the north, we’re well within its orb.

OH, FOR THE CURIOUS TURNS

Why wait for the dust to settle? Here are 10 bullets from my end.

~*~

  1. So fine to curl up together in the hammock, even if we do require a blanket by this time of year. Good times, indeed, if we pause to catch them.
  2. Eighteen years later, I can still ask: Just who is she, really? Little is truly predictable. So much remains full of surprises.
  3. The joy of grilling continues. Pork chops and ribs, chicken, sausage. And anything beef goes so gloriously with our remaining stream of fresh tomatoes.
  4. The potted mums by the back door catch my breath each time I set forth. A few golden blossoms surrounded by a field about to burst out so starry!
  5. I thought the household chaos and clutter would greatly improve when the kid moved to college. I was wrong.
  6. Observing high school kids and realizing they’re so young! Compounded by recognition of how much unfolded when we weren’t much older! How did we ever survive?
  7. A parallel universe I could have inhabited. I’ve been grieving, so much lost, even while so much is gained.
  8. We’ve decided hard cider, rather than wine, can be a distinctive touch when we’re guests elsewhere or entertaining. New Hampshire has two producers we really like, and their work couldn’t be more different: North Country, in an old mill just a few miles away, and Farnum Hill on Poverty Lane on the other side of the state. As one friend described the latter, with great approval: “It’s apple champagne.”
  9. Barring a hurricane somewhere down the coast, the ocean around here can be warmer now than it was in July. Some of the best swimming happens now. Along with some of the best memories.
  10. Maybe there’s still time to harvest staghorn sumac cones and grind them into powder, like the popular Middle Eastern spice that goes so well on kabobs.

~*~

A widespread emblem of New England.
A widespread emblem of New England.

 

FAST FLIPPERS

Flying through air.
Flying through air.

Catch the seals show at the New England Aquarium if you can. It’s about much more than feeding them, as you’ll see. While seals are populous along the region’s shoreline, seeing them is another matter – and rarely, if ever, do you get this close or for this long.

Boston is a rich and varied destination – the Hub of New England, or the Universe, as they used to say. Living a little more than an hour to the north, we’re well within its orb.

Of course they're cute.
Of course they’re cute.

 

THAT LAST WEEK OF SUMMER

The mind dances here and there, rarely in a linear fashion. So what’s on my mind these days? How about counting on these fingers?

~*~

  1. As she says, it seemed like a good idea at the time.
  2. Still many sailboats out, their sails looking soft, dreamy. Other boats, on their moorings, rock endlessly. Listen to the incoming tide.
  3. With the sea haze is pronounced, we can barely see the Isles of Shoals from the mouth of the Piscataqua River. Other times they’re crisp, five miles away – the hotel and conference center/retreat, avian observatory, and White Isle lighthouse, among them. Soon, everything will be deserted for winter.
  4. Asked what makes me run, I could easily answer: COFFEE! Actually, it’s often a mystery to me, too.
  5. Without a big project going, I feel lost, adrift, directionless.
  6. Sometimes that sensation of feeling lost is a fog. When I’m not relating to music, what I hear is mostly noise.
  7. One help in revising a long work of fiction, especially, comes in finding its “emotional zipper” – and then everything falls into place as you move along it.
  8. Where’s the center of gravity? That is, the central identity or overall impression.
  9. Will she realize it’s our anniversary? (She almost always has the date wrong.)
  10. How I love the cool, clear days of late summer and early autumn!

~*~

Somersworth, New Hampshire.
Somersworth, New Hampshire.

It’s a common real estate question, I suppose: what do you do with an old church? In my newest novel, the family turns one into a rock concert venue, not that unlike the Stone Church in Newmarket, New Hampshire, not all that far from us. Others around here have been turned into homes or apartments. And still others are art galleries or retail spaces. Parking, of course, can be a problem.

SO MUCH FOR THOSE PLANS

Being mindful of what’s right in front of us can always be a challenge. Here are 10 new items from my end.

~*~

  1. Some years we use the Smoking Garden more evenings in September than August. Often with a small fire going and sense it may be the last time of the year. How sweet!
  2. We have our own taste of the African Queen when we take the fall trip up the river from Portsmouth, starting with the broad harbor that finally narrows just before coming into downtown Dover. It’s a rather amazing midday cruise.
  3. Such a joy discovering a masterpiece by sight-reading, the way I did with “There Shall a Star from Jacob Come Forth” from Mendelssohn’s unfinished oratorio, Christus. Much different from listening to a recording or hearing it in concert.
  4. Some of the best ocean swimming comes after Labor Day. The water’s finally warmed enough to be comfortable. As for tide-pooling, we still have a wide variety of small crabs. They all move fast when uncovered. But no fiddler crab, so far, despite the title of my poetry collection.
  5. There are no lifeguards where I swim in the open Atlantic at a relatively unknown park in Maine. While some of its pocket beaches are sandy, mine’s a field of pebbles. Sunbathing there can be surprisingly comfortable. Now comes the balancing act. While the water’s finally tolerable, even briskly pleasurable, the air can be a tad too chilly.
  6. How do “real” writers live in their “free” time? Thought I’d have an answer by now, free from the office. Instead, the right pace and attitude remain a challenging mystery.
  7. Still not ready to shave my head, even if I’d look like a Zen monk.
  8. The night ocean: a remarkable tint of green.
  9. September can be thunder in the distance.
  10. Nothing we do goes quite as planned. (Not just the garden, at that.)

~*~

Leaven was an adveturous outpost of good food and good company in downtown Somersworth, New Hampshire. Small towns can be incubators of entrepreneurial innovation. Leaven's bakery continues as a wholesale operation.
Leaven was an adveturous outpost of good food and good company in downtown Somersworth, New Hampshire. Small towns can be incubators of entrepreneurial innovation. Leaven’s bakery continues as a wholesale operation.