Endings and Beginnings

Sunrise

I awoke early last Monday morning, feeling as if I were on the “champagne stage” of the Tour de France, where the victorious pedal into Paris for the last leg of a long race while sipping champagne. I had just finished composing my saxophone concerto the night before; all that was left to do was a little tweaking and formatting. Angel and I took a walk at dawn, witnessing a spectacular sunrise through storm clouds that were passing away, an apt visual metaphor for the intense few months I had spent writing this piece. I was on the champagne stage now – just a few more hours of studio time and I would indulge in a glass of prosecco at the end of the day.

Hydrangea 'Limelight'

The world changed while I was preoccupied in my studio. I vaguely remember seeing the garden when I came out to visit for an hour or two each day, but my head was full of music and I wasn’t really paying close attention.  Now that I’ve had a week to reorient myself, I’m a bit taken aback. I feel as if I’ve gone through a magical revolving door from the gaudy splendor of the July garden to the mellow pace of August. A few daylily blooms persist but the color banner is carried forward by the large blowsy flowers of PeeGee Hydrangeas, Rose of Sharon, tall stands of garden phlox, the bright daisy forms of Echinacea and Rudbeckia, and the fresh rebloom of roses.

It is now a more relaxed garden, requiring a relaxed butterflyWPattitude towards the insect damaged leaves of blooming plants and a tolerance for the gradual disintegration of carefully crafted color combinations. The quiet of dusk and dawn have been filled with a raucous chorus of cicadas by day and the bold throbbing songs of tree frogs by night. Flocks of butterflies cover the Buddleia (butterfly bush) by the deck and hummingbirds in two’s and three’s feed on the Salvias nearby.

July has ended, August has begun and their sights and sounds are distinctly different. It has taken me a week to begin writing in words instead of notes, and of raising the camera to my eye once again.  Here are a few portraits of the garden in August. Enjoy, and perhaps join me in a glass of champagne to celebrate the beauty of endings and beginnings.

When you’re young you prefer the vulgar months, the fullness of the seasons. As you grow older you learn to like the in-between times, the months that can’t make up their minds. Perhaps it’s a way of admitting that things can’t ever bear the same certainty again. ― Julian BarnesFlaubert’s Parrot (courtesy of Good Reads)

Adjusting the Trajectory

Trajectory:
1:
the curve that a body (as a planet or comet in its orbit or a rocket) describes in space

2: a path, progression, or line of development resembling a physical trajectory <an upward career trajectory>
~from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online

Janus sculpture in the Vatican Museum

Janus sculpture in the Vatican Museum

A new year. An opportunity to take stock, to reflect, and to adjust one’s trajectory.  In one sense, this new year is a change of calendar date, nothing more. But symbolically and perhaps tuned to some inner clock within the human race, it is also the moment in which we declare a boundary in time, a stepping over an invisible line between then and now. Janus, the Roman god of gates and doors who presides over all beginnings and transitions, is represented by a two faced head, looking in opposite directions; the month of January is named for him.

Diving Trajectory

Diving Trajectory

I love the idea of adjusting one’s trajectory – small adjustments leading to profound change over distance, in the case of moving objects, or over time, in the case of changing one’s life curve. I know from experience that small adjustments work well for me and now is the time to consider what those adjustments might be. “Dripping water hollows out stone, not through force but through persistence.” (Ovid) The potential for a wonderful year lies before me – I’ve been granted a sabbatical from teaching in the fall and intend to spend most of the coming year in the fields and forests of western Pennsylvania, recording and photographing the fauna and flora for the resource material of my new musical project, A Year in Penn’s Woods, which I introduced in the post Wild Sounds.  Building up the stamina and strength required to carry out this ambition is the focus of this year’s resolve. I’ve already begun the adjustments, increasing my yoga practice, walking longer distances, changing some eating habits, and practicing using my camera and recording equipment so that it is second nature to manipulate it without hesitation.  Like Janus standing on the threshold of the new year, I can look back and see all the projects that have led me to this new and more ambitious one, and I eagerly look forward to connecting those experiences with the adventure that lies before me.

Blog of the Year Award 1 star jpegA special thanks to Kerry of Lightscapes Nature Photography Blog for his year-end gift of the 2012 Blog of the Year Award. (you can read more about the ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award here) Kerry is an extraordinary photographer who generously shares his experience and his adventures in capturing images of the American landscape. His work is exceptional and every post is a “must read” and “must see” experience. The care and attention that he gives his work is an inspiration to me and has challenged me to improve my photography skills to a higher standard. I encourage you to visit Kerry!

Since this is an award that is to be passed on, I nominate Ogee at Gardens for Goldens, “a Memorial Garden to help honor and rescue Golden Retrievers.” Ogee and her colleagues maintain a lovely garden in California as part of their efforts for the rescue of Golden Retriever dogs, whom they heal and place in new homes.  Not only is the garden a delight, the stories and images of the dogs strolling through the garden are compelling and heartwarming. Please visit Ogee and enjoy her wonderful and compassionate blog.

Finally, I want to thank all of my readers and followers. Your visits and words of encouragement are bright lights in my daily life, and inspire me to continue to think, to write, and to share.  I wish you all the wisdom and patience to live with joy in a world of change.

“I wanted to change the world. But I have found that the only thing one can be sure of changing is oneself.” ― Aldous Huxley

“When people are ready to, they change. They never do it before then, and sometimes they die before they get around to it. You can’t make them change if they don’t want to, just like when they do want to, you can’t stop them.” ― Andy Warhol

A special thanks to goodreads.com for such a wealth of wonderful quotes.

Turbulent Transitions

I stood on a hill in Dunoon, Scotland, in the middle of March many years ago. Powerful winds brought a succession of rain, sleet, snow, hail, and sunshine over and over again in the course of an hour – a microcosm of the turbulent transition from one season to another. The change of seasons this week in Western Pennsylvania was less compressed – spread over days rather than minutes – but otherwise not so different. The week began with a warm evening on the deck, listening to what surely would be the final cicada and frog chorus of the season.  Gusty winds brought cold temperatures and days of rain, followed by an enchantingly beautiful misty morning immediately followed by a snowy morning, all in less than a week.

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Though I’m reluctant to acknowledge the end of the gardening season and the coming of winter, I must admit that I love the turbulent changes that the seasons’ transitions bring. There is a certain security in knowing that one season will follow another, an overarching stability of structure. But the passage from one state to another is filled with chaos, unpredictability and extreme fluctuations. It is this push pull of change and stability that fascinates me, and it seems to be at the heart of my artistic endeavors as well. Achieving a balance between the familiar and the novel, the security of what has been done and the adventure of exploring new ideas, is an ongoing dynamic in my work, and perhaps in my life as well. 

A video celebration of nature’s transitions in my garden, set to the music of “Falling” from “Three States of Being.”

Here’s another take on the idea of transitions as passages, courtesy of Margie Strosser.

All text and images of “Turbulent Transitions” ©2011 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved