A Roadside Killed Skunk. I don’t mind the smell of skunk, as long as it doesn’t linger. My dog Cujo was twice sprayed by a skunk, and after washes with tomato juice on year and with douche a few years later, the odor gradually went away.
Crows Chased by Mockingbirds. Twice this week I’ve seen crows fleeing from mockingbirds. I wonder if it is a sign to me. I also wonder what a crow has to fear about a mockingbird.
A bunny hops around the back yard. Each day sometime around the noon hour, I see it eating in a large area of clover. So far he has not had to hurry anywhere. I haven’t noticed cats in the neighborhood, and the fence keeps dogs away. Hawk? Owl? May be mockingbird has found a way to befriend the bunny and keep them chased away.
The bunny reminds me of the name of a colleague at the school in Denver, where I taught. Bruce Bunny taught freshman math. It was good to know and work with him. What’s that? Did he teach next door to Miss Kitten? That would be silly, to have a Miss Kitten and a Mr. Bunny teaching next door to one another in a high school.
At the Symphony.
It was good to hear a program of twentieth century and contemporary music: Prokofiev, Stravinsky, and Tao, whose piece commemorates the assassination of Kennedy.
I had never heard “The Firebird Suite.” My father’s friend Doc Ed loved classical music and had a small collection of LPs and a good stereo system. Sometimes in elementary school I’d sleep over with my friend, his son Bernard, at their house, and I remember we spent part of a rainy afternoon with Doc Ed listening to Beethoven’s Fifth Piano Concerto, one of my first experiences with classical music. He had a recording of “The Firebird,” but he didn’t think it was appropriate for young children. His wife Della once mentioned, when we wanted to listen to it at bedtime, that it would cause bad dreams, though she didn’t mind scaring us with her rendition of “The English Ghost.” For whatever reasons, since then I had not heard “The Firebird.” It’s a fine piece, full of melodies and strains which call for, well, dance, dramatic movement. I noticed a few rows in front of me a young boy at one place put his hands over his ears. His parents and he left at intermission. Maybe Doc Ed and Della were right.
Notes on Reading. Fiction. Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Blithedale Romance (1852). In Nathaniel Hawthorne: Collected Novels, The Library of America, 1983.
The novel is a negative criticism of Brook Farm, an attempt at a utopian society of communal living. It serves as a character study of four major characters, two men and two women, and two mysterious interlopers. The novel is of interest to those in women’s studies, those who are interested in Hawthorne, and those who are interested in the intellectual life of nineteenth century New England.
Notes on Reading. Nonfiction. Francine Jay, The Joy of Less. Chronicle Books, 2016.
This book is an excellent guide to simplifying and enriching our lives by minimizing our possessions to allow us more freedom in attitude, time, and lifestyle. The author presents a step-by-step guide through each of the areas in our homes and shows positive effects of adopting simplicity in our personal and global surroundings.
Notes on Reading. Nonfiction. Kevin Dann, Expect Great Things: The Life and Search of Henry David Thoreau. Penguin Random House, 2017.
In the last chapter Dann describes his work as biographer: “Henry Thoreau, the indefatigable measurer of trees and truth, would ask that our measurement of his life hew to the facts, but that we read those facts with an enlarged sense of meaning. . . . Let us take facts–which admittedly grown exceedingly hazy to us earthbound denizens–and strive toward law. There are great cosmic rhythms, perennial, eternal rhythms undulating around and through us, which we hear not. ‘How long?’ this great American spirit asked. Why not now?”
This excellent biography emphasizes Thoreau’s quest for understanding the spiritual through the physical world, his mysticism. The title is from his journal: “In the long run, we find what we expect. We shall be fortunate then if we expect great things.”
Using apt selections from Thoreau’s journal and particularly his poetry, Dann shows Thoreau’s quest in the context of his historical time. He presents a positive and inspirational view of the character and works of one of my heroes.