Translated by Robert Hass
Winter solitude --
in a world of one color
the sound of wind.
From Poet's Choice by Robert Pinsky in The Washington Post Book World, on epigrams, haiku and other short-form poetry, "the particular pleasure in how a very few words can slow us down, a paradoxical joy in the slowing down of time achieved by swiftness." Here is the "candidly lovesick" Meleagros translated by Dudley Fitts:
O Fingernail of Heliodora,
Surely Love sharpened you, surely Love made you grow:
Does not your lightest touch transfix my heart?
It's been snowing in fits and starts since late this afternoon, and while there is almost no accumulation, the mere fact of it makes me sort of hibernate. Before it started, we went to Huntley Meadows to see the wetlands iced over, which was lovely -- several groups of geese flying in and landing on the ice, a lone and apparently confused tadpole-looking creature in one of the rare pools of water, and a heron flying across the horizon at the edge of the park. We did not see deer, but we did see their tracks. And the muskrat were either hibernating or, if muskrat do not hibernate, just hiding someplace warm.
Otherwise my simple pleasures were discussing Lemony Snicket with my younger son, who is reading the tenth book -- I think he read seven of the books this week -- and trying to explain to my older son why his father was watching the SNL cowbell sketch with Christopher Walken (link here) and howling hysterically. Also, on the way to Huntley Meadows which required a stop at the library to return books, I read the February 4th Entertainment Weekly -- the Oscar issue, in which they made some annoying predictions, but they also interviewed host Chris Rock, who made me smile by saying, "My new thing after seeing Alexander is that only Russell Crowe should be in period pieces. Even if the movie's about something that happened three weeks ago, they should hire Russell Crowe. He's just better than everybody."
GIP by beeej, part of my recruitment into Highlander love (because who wouldn't want to do it with Lord Byron and Mary Shelley, really -- Methos is so my dream alter ego here). And this is a good segue into raves!
I suspect that heidi8 really expected me to rant about people who can't tell the difference between Penn vs. Penn State rather than rave, but I have never been terribly upset about this...except that I don't know anything about the proud history of the Nittany Lions because I grew up around Michigan fans. Pennsylvania State University is celebrating its sesquicentennial this year -- next month in fact -- after being created by a charter from 1855 governor James Pollock, and it's a great public university. Penn, on the other hand, was founded by Benjamin Franklin and opened its doors in 1751, a private school with the intention not of focusing on clerical education but on public service. I believe Penn's is the oldest med school in the US and everyone who went there knows about ENIAC, the first electronic computer. The former is in Harrisburg, the latter in Philadelphia; the former has the Lions, the latter the Quakers which are not allowed to play in bowl games by definition because Ivy League schools don't participate in football playoffs (though Penn's basketball team often wins the Ivy title and gets to go to the NCAA tournament). So both these schools have a lot to be proud of, even if the Quakers have much better school songs! *g*
dark_cygnet wanted me to rave about swans, which is not easy because I really know next to nothing about them -- unlike ducks and geese and herons and egrets, which I have on many occasions observed up close, I have mostly seen swans ornamentally and from a distance. But I associate them with two places that I adore: Stratford-upon-Avon, birthplace of William Shakespeare, and Stratford, Ontario, home of the Shakespeare festival where apaulled and I used to go every summer when we lived in the midwest and where, on our honeymoon, we went canoeing in the midst of the swans that float so gracefully on the water flowing past the theatre complex. So I associate swans with Shakespeare, travel and being very happy.
ribby wanted me to rave about outdoor activities in the DC area, and shayenne wanted me to rave about Baltimore, and I feel like the best thing I could do for both of them is to refer them to my photo pages and tell them to look at places we've gone in the area. Huntley Meadows, where we went today, is one of my favorite outdoor spots around, a Fairfax County park in northern Virginia. Great Falls, from which I often post photos of the Potomac River seen from both sides, is just one of a great many national parks in the greater Washington area. In Baltimore I tend to favor the waterfront and the area around the zoo, both of which have historical buildings, maritime history and a number of good places for children, but Baltimore is full of wonderful historic districts and writers' houses and universities, plus the B&O Railroad Museum. Probably I should go collect links I've posted in the past!
The geese in the air met up with the gaggle already on the ice. We also saw a heron fly around the perimeter of trees at the far edge of the wetlands, but it landed too far away for me to attempt to photograph.
There was a great deal of evidence on the ice that there had been more waterfowl -- it was warmer earlier in the week, and the slushy snow had apparently refrozen when the temperatures dropped, with footprints from deer and things with paws as well -- probably dogs, though technically it is illegal to bring dogs out onto the boardwalks or in the wetlands.
Back in the woods, the snow looked as if it had never melted; I doubt enough sunlight got through.
Nonetheless there was a lot of evidence that the ice was not solid -- big bubbles visible beneath the surface and running water in places.
The patterns of the crystals were gorgeous.
1) krabapple and 2) office_ennui: I hope that you both got booted and recovered quickly, and that it's not that you're pissed off me for what I had to say about 1) grad school and 2) Snape. I must go to bed now, and am bailing on AIM, and feel badly!