Tuesday, February 20, 2018

midwestern weather

The forecast for the week calls, surprisingly, for snow until the weekend. Light snow, certainly, and nothing like the inches and feet piling up in the Rockies and across the great plains, but it is unusual here in the Pacific Northwest. It's bright outside but the sky is gray and the air is full of hard white flakes whirling around, melting upon contact with exposed skin. I wonder what the daffodils and crocuses think of all this, the flowers starting to bloom while the water in the bird baths turns to ice. It's all quite strange, and I'm not used to bundling up just to stay warm during the two minutes I'm outside while nipping out to the espresso stand a block away. It was 30° when I got to work, and it's now a blistering 36°.

I just read Willa Cather's My Antonia, and while Cather describes the austere beauty of winter in America's heartland, she fails to mention the penetrating cold, a cold that gets into your muscles and bones and teeth, settling in for weeks or months until one scarcely believes one's body has ever felt any different, that one wasn't always cold and numb and slow moving. I have spent too many winters in Colorado, Nebraska, and Montana not to remember that awful cold whenever I see a gray snowy day like today. The ground here is frozen solid; a park near my office that's usually muddy in February is now like a vast area of broken asphalt under a layer of dense frozen green moss. Crows and robins peck in vain at the ground, and God knows what the buried worms are up to. Do the crows and robins feel the cold? Do their feet ache the way mine do?

Since it's so cold out, I have spent a lot of time indoors. Progress continues with revisions to Antosha, and I've been doing a lot of good work on my violin technique. Yesterday afternoon I spent some time with Mozart's violin sonata No. 18 in G, K301. I couldn't help noticing that the first movement of Beethoven's "Spring" sonata is structurally very similar to the Mozart. I don't mean the sonata-allegro form, I'm talking about smaller-scale details, the material traded off between the violin and the piano, that sort of thing. Mozart lacks the quirks of rhythm and sudden dynamic shifting that Beethoven inherited from Haydn, of course, but he has a way of stretching commonplace foursquare motifs out of shape, pulling them a beat or two past where another composer would end them, and eliminating stereotypical accents on downbeats in the middle of the phrases. Which is why I'm always surprised that people readily acknowledge how Mozart's music is pretty, but they miss how cleverly it's put together.

Mozart never complained about the cold.

Friday, February 9, 2018

once more from the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge

I took this photo because the view reminded me of many of the works we saw recently at an Andrew Wyeth exhibit. A lot of the landscape at the Refuge, on that day anyway, reminded us of Wyeth's paintings. This image was taken with a proper camera.

I'm disappointed that the Wyethness of these barns could not be captured on my iPhone camera. In reality the buildings are impressively immense, weirdly dry and fragile seeming, as if made from corn husks and air, ready to blow away in a strong wind. Though there was plenty of strong wind and the barns did not blow away.

Monday, February 5, 2018

superbowl sunday, non brain injury edition

At the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge. Eagles? Yes. Patriots? Maybe; we didn't inquire.

At the Admiral Bird in Seattle. Waffles and vegetarian chili. Also flowers from the shop in the rear.