Call it Sprummer
Shortly after Memorial Day weekend, the leaves and blossoms seemed to spring forth overnight! Crab apple, choke cherry and off my deck, apple blossoms.
A bit late for Spring, too early for Summer, so I call it Sprummer—an in-between-season that is most welcome whenever it arrives, especially in the times of Covid-19. Montanans are cautiously taking up their lives in what could still not be called “normal.” The big question mark is whether the summer tourists will do the same. Tourism is Montana’s biggest industry. Last year about 12.6 million nonresidents visited Montana and spent around $3.6 billion. Considering that the population of Montana is about 1.6 million, the tourists out-numbered us 12 to 1. We look forward to their coming and hope they are as cautious as we have been. They come from all over the country and the world.
A sight out my window yesterday was iconic of the return of Work and Play. Of course, the ranchers have never stopped working.
I mentioned before that there were several Spring Events that did not happen this year. In addition to the School Graduations, we missed the Ovando Spring Clean-up Day. Every April, folks gather to clean up the town for Spring and tidy us up for the summer visitors. That includes putting up the teepee and cleaning out the hoosegow. Here is Kathy our Town Crier’s announcement from a previous year to show you what we missed. I suspect that the chores will get done, but it won’t be the same.
I recently heard from my friends Rorry and Jay, who got stranded at their condo in St. Martin. Saint Martin is part of the Leeward Islands in the Caribbean Sea. It comprises 2 separate countries, divided between its northern French side, called Saint-Martin, and its southern Dutch side, Sint Maarten.
Jay recently wrote that it is just beginning to open up. I loved this note:
My “previous life” was in Del Mar, California where I spent many years, off and on, working at Earth Song Books and Ocean Song Gallery. Earth Song was owned by Anne Mery, after the retirement of Jim Meadows—the original owner. She just sent word of her latest enterprise: Eceltic Books—“a curated collection of books and treasures tailored to the needs of your event, conference, pop-up or personal library – informed by 30 years of bookstore ownership.” https://bookshop.org/shop/ecelticbooks
Bookshop is an online bookstore with a mission to financially support local, independent bookstores. We believe that bookstores are essential to a healthy culture. They’re also anchors for our downtowns and communities. As more and more people buy their books online, we wanted to create an easy convenient way for you to get your books and support bookstores at the same time.
We hope that Bookshop can help strengthen the fragile ecosystem and margins around bookselling and keep local bookstores an integral part of our culture and communities.
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In many ways, this worldwide Covid-19 pause is a germination period for many new directions. The one that stands out for us is the hundreds, probably thousands, of living room musicians who perform the feat of playing collectively with others scattered around the world. While it is not entirely new, it has caught on in a big way among professionals and nonprofessionals alike, and it relieves some of the frustration of concert-goers marooned in their own living rooms.
Music is an act of love that conveys what words can't. That is what is brought home to me as I watch the various musical offerings during this pandemic. So many of these musicians, performing from their own homes, radiate the love of what they are doing and what they are doing it for. I will carry their voices and faces, in those huge mosaics, forever.
Here is a performance of the Napa Valley Festival Orchestra—always a favorite summer event—performed remotely. The downside is the lack of physical presence, the upside is that the audiences expand appreciably in quantity and in distance. Even pastors of churches have commented that their congregations have grown now that people can participate from home. Upsides-Downsides.
This is what people have seen in other years.
This is what all of us can see today virtually as Festival Napa Valley’s Remote Ensemble performs “Va, pensiero,” from the opera Nabucco by Giuseppe Verdi. It is "dedicated to all essential workers whose heroic efforts safeguard the health and safety of our communities. The Ensemble consists of 126 past and present Festival Napa Valley musicians, all of whom recorded their parts from home while following our virtual conductor, Zach Salsburg-Frank."
The Brooklyn College Choir had been preparing for performances with the New York Philharmonic when the pandemic struck. Pianist Harrison Sheckler conceived the idea of a virtual performance of “You’ll never walk alone” from the musical Carousel as an antidote to the loneliness of isolation. “Hopefully, the words, ‘you'll never walk alone,’ along with the visual of 300 people from 15 different countries joining together offers the audience some comfort and peace during this time.”
As we have our Memorial Day in May, Australians and New Zealanders have their ANZAC Day in April. Having watched the Amazon Prime series Gallipoli—not an easy watch—I was overwhelmed by the degree of suffering of so many ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) troops for what was a largely unsuccessful campaign. In 1915, they were part of an Allied expedition that set out to capture the Gallipoli Peninsula of Turkey. The objective was to capture Constantinople, the capital of the Ottoman Empire. The campaign dragged on for eight months and ended in a stalemate, taking a huge toll on the Allied forces with 56,000 deaths, including 8,709 from Australia and 2,721 from New Zealand.
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Australians and New Zealanders made April 25th the day on which they remembered the sacrifice of those who had died in the war. Like our own Memorial Day, ANZAC Day now honors those who have fallen in all of the wars. Covid-19 prevented the usual celebrations, but it did not prevent this moving outpouring of remembrance in a virtual performance of "Waltzing Matilda."
That we have come a long way since that time is clear from the impassioned voices of young people of the new generation in this virtual performance of "We Are the World."
While in Mexico City, my Comadre Yolanda introduced me to a new dimension in the experience of art: “Van Gogh Alive” is a remarkable immersion experience in the life and work of Vincent Van Gogh. It is impossible to describe or recreate but this video gives an idea (though parts of the original have been speeded up here with dizzying effect).
Now meet Isaac and Nora, two talented siblings from Quimper, France (originally from Seoul, South Korea) singing a Cuban song “Veinte Años,” accompanied by their father on the guitar.
Isaac (11 years old) plays trumpet and drums, Nora (8 years old) sings, plays accordion and ukulele, while their father Nicolas accompanies them on guitar, Uncle Thomas on accordion, Romain on the tuba, and many musician friends.
Here, the person who is filming them is their mother, Catherine. I'm in love with this little girl, and you will be too. The song means "Twenty Years" and I can only imagine where she will be in twenty years. I hope it is a good place.
Isaac and Nora sing "Veinte Años"
From the very young musicians to a very old one with a heart-warming story that is the subject of an Oscar-winning documentary, The Woman in Room 6. Here is a short introduction to Alice Herz-Sommer, who at 109 was described as the world’s oldest pianist and a tribute to the power of music to bring joy into a life even in difficult times.
Now something for those at home with humans' Best Friend, facing the dilemma of exercising during the time of pandemic--for Self and Friend. You will enjoy seeing a solution to the problem in the next video, although you may not feel up to duplicating the experience. In that case, enjoy it with your Friend from the couch. You gotta love ‘em, right? Oh yes!
Please stay well and love what you love!