One of our favorite winter celebrations is the Winter Solstice, going back to pagan times, and the worship of the Sun and Light and Life. The birds, (Eric [and Erica] the Red shown here right outside our front door), are a fine reminder of the struggle to survive, and the triumph of hard work, with a deep understanding of Nature, and a fervent belief that there will be another Spring. We take in boughs of holly and evergreens, without any religious connotations, to fill our lungs with the sweet-smelling greens, and we begin counting the moments of the lengthening days, until our beloved plants and shoots pierce the fresh fertile soil with new growth in just a few months.
Meanwhile, there is work to be done, as the birds know all too well.
This past week, I presented a program, in two consecutive assemblies at a beautiful elementary school, to second and third-graders, on the subjects of Classical Music, fact vs. fiction, various ways of expressing oneself (writing, painting, and in musical language), using my children’s book, Polly and the Piano as the vehicle, and punctuating the talk with child-friendly classical music. Without going into detail, when a little girl stopped by the piano, as her class was filing out, to tell me “Your music was the most beautiful I have ever heard!“, I knew that all the work and energy had paid off. Another child asked me from the audience, “Did you ever hear of Beethoven?” Did I !?? He wanted to tell me that he could play the Ode to Joy ! Oh, Joy!
I am also throwing myself into devesting our abode of excess; from stuff in the basement and attic, to multiple copies of music, which I am giving to students as they need it, to books we don’t need to keep forever, and all sorts of baggage one holds onto, until it accumulates into clutter. I want to pare down, just as Nature does—shedding dead limbs and leaves off of trees, clearing precious space for the growth of the new–in my case ideas and projects. I could never work amidst chaos, and although our living space is quite well-organized, even knowing that there is a meaningless amount of objects that could possibly be enjoyed by others, crowds my brain, and slows up creativity.
I am also thinking ahead to a performance of the Bach Clavier Concerto in d minor next season, and learning it in a leisurely way so that I can glide right into it when the time comes. The winter darkness is gloomy in many ways, but it is also cozy and concentration-inducing. What else is there to do? A great time for learning and working.
HAPPY WINTER SOLSTICE!!!—We wish you Peace and Light and Joy!