A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

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Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Woodstock Chime

One of my favorite Christmas gifts this year was a wind chime, carefully selected by my daughter, Cordelia. It's a top-of-the-line Woodstock Gregorian® alto chime. I've already got a couple of wind chimes on my front porch, but this one is special.

Woodstock chimes, created by professional musician Garry Kvistad, are precision-tuned to various scales. Each note is pure and beautiful. They don't simply jangle in the wind, but seem rather to be playing a little song.

In nice weather I spend many an afternoon on my wide front porch, sitting on the glider as I read, eat, or visit, listening to a pair of rather boisterous chimes. So I decided my new gift should hang in the back of the house, where it could be heard from the kitchen or loft. Amir, who's extremely agile, hung it from the soffit outside of the window behind my desk. With the window closed, it's a sweet and haunting faraway song. In breezy warmer weather, when I can open the window, the music will be pleasanter still.

In previous summers, I listened to the drunks in the park and the trash-talking adolescents on the basketball court behind me as I worked. Recently the Parks Department has been making improvements, and perhaps by next summer the new paving and plantings and the operational fountain will encourage a politer crowd. Birdsong, the plashing of the fountain, and these Gregorian alto chimes may be all that I hear. Well, I can always hope.

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Blue Christmas

The Christmas trees of my childhood were scraggly affairs, spindly firs with big gaps between the branches, the kind of trees you had to turn and turn to find the least bad side. In addition to lights and ornaments, my mother decorated them with real tinsel and angel hair, which went a long way towards filling in the holes. The finished product, with the big colored bulbs glowing like technicolor spiderwebs through the angel hair, was magical to my child's eyes.

Of the many boxes of decorations we used to use, nothing remains. My favorite ornaments were a set of hard plastic reindeer, including a Rudolph with a red nose. They were cheap and brittle, the paint half rubbed off, some of them missing a leg or a tail. How often have I wished for just one of those little reindeer!

Today I have many expensive and beautiful Christmas ornaments; I can't seem to get enough. Maybe it's Rosebud syndrome...compulsive collecting when all I really want is a simple childhood memory. Every year I collect one more, representative of the year gone by. A Christopher Radko gingerbread house to celebrate my first paycheck after a long spell of stay-at-home mommyhood. A delicate hand-blown ball from Munich. Purple grapes from Beaujolais; a paler cluster from Champagne. A glass slipper and a clock striking midnight for the millenium.

This year, I took advantage of my holiday visit to Manhattan to purchase something for this year. It's blue glass, in honor of my visit in August to "blue, the Inn on the Beach" in Newburyport. Two nights in a romantic and beautiful room directly on a deserted beach, under a full moon, provided at no cost to me as a member of the press--followed by a check in the mail for the review I sold. That's a memory I want to keep.

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