About composerinthegarden

A composer by vocation, a gardener by avocation. My garden and my life as a composer are deeply intertwined - the yin and yang of my creative life. . .

A quiet season

Snow was falling,
so much like stars
filling the dark trees
that one could easily imagine
its reason for being was nothing more
than prettiness. ~Mary Oliver, Snowy Night

Late last night, Angel and I ventured outside into the deep snow. It had been snowing for two days, a wet heavy snow not easily moved aside with a broom.  As we stepped away from the porch lights, the world glowed in the dark, everything covered with a thick white coat that gleamed in the starlight. It was the quiet that struck me, though. There was not a sound to be heard, no distant cars, no breeze moving the trees, no voices. As we stood there drinking in the silence, a Great Horned Owl sang his deep hoo-h’HOO-hoo-hoo in the woods behind us. It was just me and Angel and the owl, sharing the silent night. 

I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.” ~Lewis Carroll

My life has been quiet for the past several months. Retiring in August triggered a need to turn inward, to catch up on years of lost sleep and the energy drain of too many projects. Instead of writing, I began reading. Instead of pushing through the mid-afternoon slump with coffee, I took long naps. As I drifted through the days and weeks and months, I was content to stay home and spend my days in quiet introspection. 

Winter is a season of recovery and preparation. ~Paul Theroux

As Mother Nature moves into her quiet season here in western Pennsylvania, I finally find myself refreshed and slowly turning back to the world. I sent out Christmas cards for the first time in years. Decorating the house was a pleasure instead of a chore. I’m wrapping up my Watershed CD project and will be making the music available publicly in a week or two.

Tomorrow is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. The snow continues to fall here, creating a winter wonderland that is all the more welcome since I have no place I need to go. Whichever holiday you celebrate at this time of year, I wish you peace and joy. Stay safe, have hope, and enjoy the quiet of the season.

Welcome, winter. Your late dawns and chilled breath make me lazy, but I love you nonetheless. ~Terri Guillemets

New beginnings

Celebrate endings—for they precede new beginnings. ~Jonathan Lockwood Huie

This week, and the last few months, have been about endings and beginnings. I am nearing the end of the mixing and mastering of my Watershed CD , a three year effort. We hope to send it for duplication in a week, thanks to the engineering wizardry of my husband/sound engineer Bill. We spent the last half of the spring semester teaching from home because of COVID restrictions and realized how much we liked being home all of the time. I spent hours at the piano, sketching new ideas while looking into the green woods.

piano

Angel was delighted to have us home 24/7; we snuggle a lot on the sofa.

The garden got some extra attention too – early summer was beautiful, in spite of  the late hard frosts.

Heat and drought were hard on the garden in June and July; although some plants bloomed, the flowers were short lived. It rained last night, with loud thunderstorms and heavy downpours – this morning the trees and plants are green and glowing and the garden looks lush again. gardenafterrain

We liked being at home so much these past several months that when the chance came to retire earlier than expected, we both took it.  Bill and I are now officially retired from our teaching jobs of 30+ years. We have been celebrating with cake, cake

with wine,

pianowine

and with mornings on the deck complete with guitar music. billgtr copy

All the things I love the most are here – the sound of the wind in the trees, the dance of a hummingbird at the flowers, the ebb and flow of the seasons, my piano, a house full of books and of course my husband and Angel. I am leaving a large part of my life behind with no regrets – it was a good ending – and now I am ready to begin the third act. I am still a composer, a gardener, a writer, a photographer – but now I have time to reflect, to explore, and to be more present on this page.

The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life. ~ Steve Jobs

whiteoak

I hope that you are all well in these most difficult times and that you are able to stay safe, full of hope and surrounded by love.

For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning. ~T.S. Eliot, Little Gidding

So loud and clear

Spring makes its own statement, so loud and clear that the gardener seems to be only one of the instruments, not the composer. ~Geoffrey B. Charlesworth

Spring has suddenly unfolded herself, transforming from a few bright flowers lost in a brown sea of last year’s leaves to a rich tapestry of green punctuated by full bouquets.colorfulhillside

Green leaves of every size and shape have sprung up, fresh and new.

New flowers open every day, making the morning stroll through the garden a journey of discovery.

gardenarch

The earth laughs in flowers. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

springgl

After a long winter of dreary days and muted colors, the textures and forms of spring make me feel as if I’ve stepped into the land of Oz, from a black and white world into a land of vibrant color.

Near a birdbath set into the ground,greenbirdbath

I found a tiny bird nest – it may have blown out of a tree during yesterday’s wild winds. tinynest

On May 1, two of my compositions will be featured on our university’s weekly A Little Friday Night Music concert series on YouTube. If you are free on Friday, May 1 at 7:30 P.M. (eastern daylight time), please tune in and enjoy the concert performance of selections from Watershed and Arcadian Tone Poems, both pieces inspired by my love of nature. I will be there in the live chat to answer questions and comments during the concert. The video will remain on YouTube thereafter, so you can tune in anytime.

May you enjoy the sights and sounds of spring, wherever you find yourself. Stay safe, stay well, stay strong.

Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter. ~Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

In a quiet time

There are few machine noises these days, just the occasional car in the distance or neighbors working in their yards. The bird song has been astounding, as if they can now hear each other clearly and are no longer struggling to communicate through a wall of manmade sound.

The quieter you become, the more you are able to hear. ~Rumi

I was weeding near the ‘Snow Fountains’ Japanese cherry tree yesterday when I heard a loud buzzing sound. It was the first bumblebees of the season as they dove through the branches and nuzzled blossom after blossom.

“What a strange thing!
to be alive
beneath cherry blossoms.”
~ Kobayashi Issa

I love the quiet moments in my garden. Did you know that scientists have discovered that as we isolate and stop our frenzied pace, the earth itself has become quieter?

waterbowl

Spring holds hope for a new beginning and this year is no different, but perhaps it is more important and more longed for in these strange times. The sun shining through blossoms of the spicebushspicebushbranch

and the light on the footpath lightonpath

seem to promise renewal and fresh beginnings at a deeper level – I hope so.

It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart. ~Rilke

The daffodils and Virginia bluebells are opening . . .

along with late blooming double hellebore ‘Rose Quartz’. hellebore1

Life is uncertain yet we can still be kind, still be thoughtful, still be loving. Each step in the garden reminds me that Mother Earth and her creatures are flourishing even as our human world is turned upside down. My greatest hope is that we will find a way to live in harmony with each other and with the earth. Many people are in desperate need now – I encourage you to do what you can in your own way to help, whether it is to call a friend or contribute to your local food bank. If you are in need, please reach out to others for help – we are all in this together.

If people did not love one another, I really don’t see what use there would be in having any spring. ~ Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

Thank you for walking with me in the garden. I wish each of you gentle silence and peace of heart.

Listen to silence. It has so much to say. ~Rumi

All photographs and text ©2020 Lynn Emberg Purse, except where noted.