The Long Winter's Night
2021 arrived like Carl Sandburg’s fog, on little cat feet. The one exception was under Mt. Fuji in Japan, where fireworks burst over deserted streets. They were bought for the cancelled 2020 Summer Olympics and had to be used for safety reasons. I’m sure they brought joy to people watching from their windows and yards. If you are missing the fireworks, enjoy these. It is never to late to wish for a Happier New Year. Thank you to Clara in Pasadena for sharing it.
On the drive to Missoula, I marvel at the sight of ice fishermen keeping their cold vigils over poles fixed over dark holes in the ice. Sometimes they have tents and sometimes not.
I discovered that there are colder spots than Montana for winter. The place that gets the award for “coldest town” is in Siberia. No surprise there. Here an elderly man becomes the fish! A winter dip, where temps can drop to -74 (-59C) is considered important for one’s health. Next to that, what happens if you put your laundry out to dry!
Human resourcefulness and creativity can flourish even in these frigid temperatures. You will be astonished by the sights of the Snow and Ice Sculpture Festival in Harbin China, where a virtual ice town is created on 200 acres.
My one last winter offering, also from Russia, is a beautiful piece by the Igor Moiseyev Ballet called Snowstorm in which humans become the storm itself.
Closer to home, dance groups continue to struggle during the Covid crisis. Confined to their homes, 32 professional ballet dancers from 14 countries perform music from Swan Lake together to raise money for Covid relief. Amazing to watch. This one is for Ari and Judy in South Carolina, who have conducted their own ballet classes online, and for Matilda in Ovando, who loves to dance. Here is "Swans for Relief."
Then there is the spontaneous pas de deux between little Avlina and Ian the postman. Even when stuck indoors, surprising things can happen. This is brief but delightful.
Now to what I call “unlikely instrumentals.” Here is a guitar duo on a single guitar. Yes, that’s Two people. One guitar. It must be a very close relationship!
How to top that? Try a Cello Quartet with One cello and Four cellists. You have to see this to believe it. It's fun. I thank my Comadre for this from Mexico City.
Last but not least of our unusual instrumentals is a remarkable story that I heard about from a couple on an airport shuttle. It's called The Landfill-Harmonic or The Recycled Orchestra and yes, the instruments come from a landfill in Paraguay where the people are poor in circumstances, but rich in what they do with them. It is 13, not 60 minutes (the program) and not to be missed.
And there are still the acts of generosity, like the young boy in Iowa, age 12, who raised thousands of dollars for his community by making and selling nearly 115 baseball bats out of wood brought down by the August Great Derecho storm. Or one man paying for the car behind him in a Dairy Queen drive-thru that resulted in over 900 cars also taking part in the pay-it- forward chain, which lasted two and a half days, to the tune of $10,000.
This next offering is for those of you who have, or are, a young person studying science or having an interest in becoming a scientist. Or for those (like me) who simply have a layman’s interest. Here is one of America’s greatest physicists and winner of the Nobel Prize, Richard Feynman, speaking about “The Pleasure of Finding Things Out.” His interview with Christopher Sykes appeared on Nova and it was nominated for an Emmy. Excerpts from those interviews appear in this TED talk introduced by his daughter and Christopher Sykes. I found it delightful.
For those of you who admired Our Best Friends doing yoga poses with their owners and wondered how you could get your own Best Friend to do yoga with you, here is a video on "How to Teach Yoga to Your Dogs." Good luck!
The only thing I will miss post-Covid are the lovely musical collages of people performing from their homes. I have loved taking in those individual faces and their living rooms, dens, bedrooms... At once so public and so intimate! So here is the Stay at Home Choir with The King's Singers performing "And So It Goes."
I end with a quiet message I received from a friend on January 1st that is good for the whole year ahead. May it indeed be a better year for us all.
Happy New Year wherever you are and please stay well.