Friday, February 17, 2012

Country Sojourn


At Buttercup Farm, the woods are a tangle of brown and gray.


The birds are in hiding.  It's midday, after all, and a red-tailed hawk is about.  The Canada Geese pose for us, though.

A muskrat swims to a hidey-hole to chew on grass.

Proof of the beaver's carpentry is everywhere, though we've not yet seen a beaver at work.

In the distance stand Big and Little Stissing Mountains (grand names for these small hills, though Big Stissing does have a big view).

Closer in, the hummocks of water-grass are encircled with ice.

The water paints pictures of the landscape, sometimes realistic (after a fashion),

other times veering toward abstract.

Back home, a group of does greets us.

The clouds fly up at the approach of night.

Musical Stories for a Winter's Evening

For a Spotify playlist, click on Country Sojourn.

Antonín Dvořák, The Water Goblin (for a synopsis of the story, click here; with grateful thanks to David Nice for setting me on the trail of symphonic poems)

David Lang, The Little Match Girl Passion (Movements 1 & 2). For the remaining movements, click here.

Sergei Prokofiev, Peter and the Wolf (narrated by Eleanor Roosevelt; for Mom, from whom I first learned this musical story, as told by the finest first lady who ever was)



Camille Saint-Saëns, Le Cygne (as beautifully explained by Nathan Chan; with thanks to Peter Rodgers for spotting this)

Jean Sibelius, Pohjola's Daughter (for a synopsis of the story, click here)

21 comments:

John said...

Hi Susan,
What lovely photos of a beautiful landscape!
What a treat to have deer visiting you at home!
There is a re-introduction scheme for beavers going on in Scotland at the moment, but various landowners and fisherman are up in arms about it saying they will flood rivers, ruin forests and ruin fish stocks (they don`t seem to realise that beavers are vegetarian!).
J
Follow me at HEDGELAND TALES

Von said...

Beautiful!!Here Autumn is arriving early almost before vintage has begun.

Rubye Jack said...

From the City to the mountains, what a great life you have Susan with being able to visit so many diverse places and cultures and all it seems in close proximity to your house.

I love the deer--how nice to have them close to you. All these pictures are great!

Herringbone said...

Soooo!.....I thought I was going to to just tell you how peaceful Buttercup Farm looks and that I like beavers too but....your musical selection has totally blown me out of the water!

Nathan's cello and explanation of The Swan was spellbinding. My heart was in my throat, my head nodding in agreement as this beautiful kid was totally hitting the nail on the head. "..sad and happy at the same time....then it starts to hit you.."

I could go on and on about your other selections, but it's your blog! The Water Goblin and the Lang piece were of particular interest to me. To the point that I researched and listened further.

Thank you so much. This presentation was great. Music has so much to offer. Encouraging listening in a friendly, open manner is awesome.

Suze said...

Am making my rounds but want more time with yours.

Will be traveling, today, so will revisit late this evening once I am settled.

-Suze

Friko said...

Isn't a spell out in the countryside just wonderful? To be able to breathe deeply without inhaling traffic fumes, to take time to really see things, to be quiet enough not to disturb the wildlife and to have music spinning around in your head at the same time.

I have the distinct impression that you and your partner know how to savour life!

The Solitary Walker said...

That cloud-speckled sunset is quite spectacular, Susan. Wow!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Susan .. love your photos - and have just had Dvorak's music playing the background .. but ah ah - this is the way to listen to your music .. so I'll be doing this in future.

I watched Nathan Chan - what a great little chap .. and exponent of a cellist ..

Thanks .. cheers for now - Hilary

Steve Schwartzman said...

Thanks for the Dvorak. For me, he's always been one of the most melodic of all the great composers. In 2008 a friend of ours got married in northern Iowa, and we attended. I'd known for a long time that Dvorak spent a summer in the little Czech community of Spillville, Iowa, and I couldn't pass up the chance to drive several hours from there and finally visit the place. The second floor of the house where Dvorak and his family spent the summer is now a museum, which we visited, so we walked literally in the footsteps of the composer. We also visited the Catholic church where Dvorak played the organ every morning.

I noticed that the Czech title of The Water Goblin is Vodník. I assume that the vod- is the same as the vodá that in Russian means 'water' and that makes vodka euphemistically 'a little water.' Although I'd heard The Water Goblin before, the annotations accompanying the recording gave new meaning to the piece. The story reminded me of the ancient Greek legend of Persephone.

In any case, a piece about water is quite appropriate today, as a thunderstorm woke me up around 2 or 3 in the morning.

Andrew said...

A wonderful post Susan.. your images are lovely to see..
Beavers as John says are being introduced to the UK..
Beautiful animals to see.

Cathy Olliffe-Webster said...

Gorgeous photos, Susan, and your words have such beautiful eloquence. Visiting here is like a breath of fresh air, easy and somehow sweet. Did you take any of these in your houesecoat? :)

klahanie said...

Greetings Susan,
What an absolutely visual delight you have passed onto us.
I'm in the process of checking your playlist. You never disappoint with your choices.
And those names, "Big and Little Stissing Mountains". Great names, but I almost misread them :)
Hope you had a peaceful weekend.
With respect, Gary

Britta said...

Dear Susan,
I am enthralled by your beautiful photographs!
Those water pictures are so interesting - I think especially the 'abstract' one should be enlarged - it soothes and stimulates at once.
Looks like spring is coming, even Buttercup farm shows a tiny hinge of green.
Thank you! Britta

Jayne said...

This. Your poem, photos and beautiful music with my coffee this morning. I loved this line: A muskrat swims to a hidey-hole to chew on grass.

What a feast.

Nathan Chan... I'm in love. Is it alright to be in love with a child? Honestly, his cello and words brought tears to my eyes. "Oh, I don't know maybe it's just one of those false alarms, and the it starts to hit you..." no kidding kid!

wanderer said...

Straight to the Sibelius, no surprise there. Mrs Roosevelt next. I especially like the softly coloured water landscape blushed with pink. And it takes me back to childhood and walking on my hands in an upside down world. Remember walking on your hands?

Suze said...

Hello, my dear Sue.

Am in the room with my daughter, she's trying to fall asleep. She's got the sniffles, so I've just rubbed her back and chest with Vicks and put tea tree and eucalyptus oil in the humidifier. My girl is tucked in and has asked for 'the long song' (the Greenstein.)

I told her you wanted to share 'Le Cygne' with us. I explained to her the musician is eleven and that his name is Nathan. She is propped on her pillows in the dark, enraptured by his voice-over.

I've now read aloud the remaining choices and she's opted, between coughs and with raspy voice, for 'The Little Match Girl Passion.'

Thank you, Sue, for all these lullabies. You are, from now on, a part of not only my musical development, but my little girl's, too.

Kleinste Motte said...

The blend of music ,images and poetic words makes this post a gem that one should take time to enjoy. I did and thanks.
This takes time to fully appreciate so I'll revisit.

shoreacres said...

My dilemma is where to focus - you've plucked at my heartstrings twice, here. Rather amazing, actually.

Steve mentions the Dvorak museum in Spillville. I can't believe I don't remember it, since I've visited the Bily Clock Museum that's on the first floor of the same building!

The Bily brothers were bachelor farmers who carved unbelievable wooden clocks during winter months, when farming responsibilities were fewer. They never traveled more than 35 miles from home, and they never sold a single one of their clocks, which they carved to the glory of God. The clocks all are in the museum - you can get a feel for their work here. Perhaps they listened to Dvorak while they carved!

I've enjoyed Dvorak since being introduced to his 9th Symphony. I'd not heard of "The Water Goblin", and enjoyed it very much.

As for that other little pluck - it's Lang's "The Little Match Girl Passion". Of course I thought of the St. Matthew Passion even before reading Lang's composer notes about his purposes for the piece - the way he talked about the relationship between the two was fascinating.

Then, I went online to read "The Little Match Girl" again. I remember so well the night my mother first read the story to me - at least I didn't cry as much today as I did then! The story probably was my introduction to the possibility of suffering in life - it took me a long while to get over it. Lang's "Passion" is so beautiful it hardly seems the same story. I'll give it another listen tonight.

Your entries are such wonderful resources for learning and enjoyment!

Susan Scheid said...

John: About the deer, not all in these parts think of it as a treat, but we love it (even though they got in the garden and ate all our just ripened tomatoes last year)! Interesting about the reintroduction of the beavers and amusing the outcry about fish when they’re vegetarian. They can do damage, of course, but, like all things in nature (not to mention life!), it’s about balance.

Von: So glad to see you over here. Interesting your autumn is arriving early, while here it feels as if spring is upon us in February. Well, there’s time left for it to take another turn.

Rubye Jack: Yes, we are in a good spot. While we don’t commute (it would be 1 ½ hours), we’re on the commuter line into New York City, so a lovely train ride in and out along the Hudson River, too. About the deer, you’ll see my comment to John. In addition, we had deer born on our property—one season for sure, and probably two. There’s a small grove of spruces down the hill that has a bed of spruce needles in its middle, and we are pretty sure that’s where the first little fawn was born.

Herringbone: Well, how pleased I am that you enjoyed the music. Nathan Chan teaches us all how to listen, doesn’t he? I owe everything to David Nice for introducing me to the rich world of symphonic poems. The Lang piece is a brand new one to me, and I like the Florida performance very much. To be able to share such gifts with others is a great gift to me, so thank you, too!

Friko: T’is, indeed, though, you know, we have nothing like your rights of way, and I long for that ability to walk straight out the door and down a public path. From our location in the countryside, we must drive to each place designated for public walking. Now, as for savoring life, you may be amused to know that, while we do get out into the beautiful world a good bit, on the other hand, we both spend a wee bit more time (this is an understatement) in our easy chairs, laptops in our lap, than we ought to do.

Solitary Walker: So glad you picked that photograph out. We have a southwest view out our front door, and as we’re up on a hillside, we have a long view out and a very big sky. I rarely feel I do the view justice, but this one, I thought, came out all right.

Hilary: Isn’t Chan the best? I’m glad the sidebar music works as I hoped! We all haven’t world enough and time, and it did finally occur to me that if I put some selections in the sidebar, it would make it easier to try something out while reading a post.

Steve: And to think I lived for several years in Iowa, traveling around the state for work, and didn’t know of this! Good for you for searching it out, and I hope to get a chance to follow suit one day. I also enjoy very much the linguistic perspective you bring. That never would have dawned on me. I hope that, since you wrote, the thunderstorm passed on and you’ve not been awakened that way again.

Andrew: I do hope that, at least one time when we visit Buttercup, we’ll manage to see a beaver in action. I suspect we’re generally there at the wrong time of day, but there is so much evidence of their presence, it’s simply got to happen!

Susan Scheid said...

Cathy: As it happens, I didn’t take any of these in my robe and slippers, but I certainly have done so—and more than once!

Gary: So glad you like this playlist! You are funny about the Stissings—and of course, slow-witted as I am, it took me a while to figure out just exactly what your misreading might have been.

Britta: High praise coming from you. I was inspired by you and others, like you, Andrew, Steve, and Friko, who don’t let the time of year or drab weather deter them, to see if I could come up with anything in those, for the moment, almost birdless woods. It was fun to train the eye in a different direction and see “fresh.” The “abstract” one is a particular favorite of mine, too. I like your description of it.

Jayne: As for Nathan Chan, well, how can one resist? It may amuse you to know, though I didn’t realize it at the time, that Chan is now all of eighteen. It turns out, also, that he was part of a west coast youth-run ensemble called “Formerly Known as Classical,” co-artistic director of which was Dylan Mattingly, about whom I’ve written elsewhere, including here. They both continue on, each in their own way, making beautiful music.

wanderer: I’m glad you went for both of those! I never did walk on my hands successfully—I was a bit of a klutz that way—but I sure do like those upside-down water world shots, and your analogy is most appealing.

Suze: And you have now added a magical musical story of your own. As you already know, but I will now share it here, I sent off a “tweet” to Judd Greenstein about the four generations (including my Mom and me) who love his piece “Change,” and he wrote back this: “thank you for bringing my music to these differently-aged people! I'm inclined to title a piece "the long song" someday...” So, who knows, Suze, your daughter may be the inspiration for a brand new composition one day.

Kleinste Motte: I’m so pleased you see things here to enjoy, and I hope you will.

shoreacres: Now that is one helluva dilemma! Clearly, Spillville is one happening place (and I see the Bily Bros carved a Dvořák clock, as well). As for Lang, when I heard the piece live, part of the fun of it was getting to hear Lang tell the story of how he came to create it. As Lang’s piece moves toward the close, it definitely (at least to me) conveys the pathos. My, aren’t these childhood stories dark? The Water Goblin story has quite a gruesome end. But I guess that’s how we all began to learn what real life was like, eh?

Nance said...

I am in love with Nathan Chan. I've always loved this Saint-Saens, but now I'll never hear it without seeing his sweet face, hearing his earnest voice.

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