Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A windy and rainy autumn day.  I took a long drive from the central Piedmont to the central coastal plain in NC.  There were short-lasting showers of rain.  Sometimes the rain brought down leaves.  The intermittent time was overcast and often foggy (or was it silver mist?) and there were sometimes brief breaks in the clouds for sunbeams to come through.  I enjoyed watching the changing topography: red clay soil became sandy, and preponderance of hardwood trees became the domain of pine trees.  Sometimes winds blew magnificent downpours of colored leaves.  Arriving at my destination after two hours, I breathed the smell of pines and felt warm and humid air.  We drive and park by the river.  It is a steadily moving small river with black water, covered in many areas with dense leaves.  Spanish moss hangs from branches of trees at the river.  Sun breaks through a couple of hours before sunset.  We drive and look up at fast-moving clouds, a V-formation of migrating geese, two large circle of soaring turkey buzzards, one circle under the other; and trees, now bare, show us squirrel nests and mistletoe!

Challenge and goal.  Now that I have time to look at trees, rain showers, star constellations, let me not get so busy with projects and events that I miss them.

Reading.  Nonfiction.  Browsing in the local library, I came across two volumes in the etiquette section that I borrowed to read as a break from the fiction of Steinbeck.  Thomas P. Farley, ed., Town and Country.  Modern Manners: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Social Graces.  Hearst, 2005.  In 45 short essays, writers from Town & Country comment upon social behavior of our times.  The essays are urbane, witty, and interesting.  Favorites include Frank McCourt on Irish hospitality, Andy Rooney on Christmas cards, Joan Caraganes Jackson on children’s use of titles for adults, and Jeff Marx and Robert Lopez on Schadenfreude.  Less entertaining but impressively conceived is P. M. Forni’s Choosing Civility: The Twenty-Five Rules of Considerate Conduct (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2002).  Forni uses examples from his everyday life to evaluate behavior.  At the heart of the book is his exposition of twenty-five principles concerning appropriate conduct.  Here are four situations taken from the book.  Would you answer “yes” or “no”?  (1) It is appropriate to compliment a co-worker on his or her appearance or dress.  (2) It is all right, at home, with just your family members, to be unkempt or slovenly.  (3) The expression of an apology should include a reason for the rudeness.  (4) It is all right, as a house guest, that you mention to your host or hostess any inconvenience you have experienced during your stay. [According to Forni, the correct response to each situation is “no.”]

Listening.  TelArc Cd. Andre Previn and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Vaughan Williams, Symphony No. 5 in D Major (1949).  This is English pastoral music presented in four movements in various traditions and form: Prelude, Scherzo, Romance, Passacaglia.  The overall effect is peace and relaxation.  The Scherzo includes lively dialogues between horns and woodwinds. My favorite, the Romance, is emotionally compelling, with expressed yearnings and resolutions.  Sounds simmer and motifs are brought from the simmer by strings, woodwinds, or horns.  This is one of my favorite works.  I am always glad to take time to hear it.

Thank you for reading.  I hope you are enjoying these good autumn days.

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About billwednesdayblog

Retired high school English and French teacher.
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