Pursuits

Site of our seventh geocache.

In the week since I last posted, I

■ saw Captain Fantastic — and loved it;
■ caught up on all of my comics, including the final issue of Revival (which was lame);
■ realized that Season Five of The Americans begins this week and set my DVR (Woot!);
■ counted the days until my daughters return home for break (Woot! again); and
■ thrice-dreamed that I was mowing the lawn. It cannot be time for that already, can it?

This weekend, I read and then saw Harold Pinter’s No Man’s Land. National Theatre Live’s rebroadcast of the production featuring Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen as Hirst and Spooner, respectively, earned two enthusiastic thumbs up from us.

From early in Act I:

HIRST: Tonight… my friend… you find me in the last lap of a race… I had long forgotten to run.

Pause.

SPOONER: A metaphor. Things are looking up.

Later in the act:

FOSTER: We protect this gentleman against corruption, against men of craft, against men of evil, we could destroy you without a glance, we take care of this gentleman, we do it out of love.

And from the play’s conclusion:

SPOONER: No. You are in no man’s land. Which never moves, which never changes, which never grows older, but which remains forever, icy and silent.

Silence.

HIRST: I’ll drink to that.

If I were a drinker, I’d toast our seventh geocache find. Yes, we made two entries in our log this weekend, one of which occurred before a leisurely walk/hike in a new-to-us park. We arrived at geocaching long after its surge in popularity, but we are thoroughly enjoying this mini-adventure.

If I were a drinker, I’d also toast my new flute. On the recommendation of my teacher, I’ve graduated from a perfectly delightful student instrument to a bold, responsive intermediate instrument that was designed to surpass a player’s needs through college studies. It’s a treasure.

My flute lessons began two years and five months ago, when my daughters, now juniors, began college. My current studies center on Rubank Advanced Method: Flute, Vol. 1. and Pares Scales. I am also preparing the solo “Song of India” from Rimsky-Korsakov’s opera Sadko. Hadyn’s “Serenade,” which is the fortieth of Louis Moyse’s Forty Little Pieces in Progressive Order, preceded this and is technically more difficult, but working on expression in “Song of India” has been developmentally appropriate for me, and I will be sorry to set aside this beautiful piece. Speaking of Forty Little Pieces, although I’ve already presented the most difficult, we continue to pepper my list of open assignments with the remaining songs. For this week’s lesson, I have prepared No. 33.

As an adult student and a retiree, I bring two things to this pursuit most of my teacher’s other students do not have: experience and time. Experienced learners tend to question, clarify, synthesize, and study — a lot. All of this requires time. During my first year of lessons, I once confessed to having only thirty minutes each day to practice before that week’s meeting. Usually, I made time for at least three fifteen-minute practice sessions daily; often, four. “Forty-five minutes?” my teacher responded, wistfully. “I’m happy to hear that students [in Rubank Elementary Method: Flute] have done fifteen minutes a day.” These days, I’m deeply chagrined when I haven’t put in at least four twenty-minute sessions daily, and I aim for six or more.

Of course, younger students rarely struggle, as I most certainly do, with velocity, and they have fewer problems “translating” unfamiliar music. Generally, too, they will travel further and do more with their music, including performances, than an adult learner will be able to do. Still, this is a worthwhile pursuit, and I am grateful for the opportunity.

Coming up: My progress on the “Shakespeare in Year” project; what else I’ve been reading; and more.

Hills on the prairie

img_0338img_0432Ah, the weather. From 65 degrees last Saturday to 29 this. It must be Chicago or thereabouts, no?

Well, we didn’t let a bit of snow or wind deter us from our walk / hike — or from our fifth geocaching find. After attempting four and  coming away with two while visiting our daughters at university, we were pleased to find the more traditional geocache at the site pictured above. It was a lovely walk, too.

Getting outside

The state natural area at which we located our first geocache. It was 62 on Saturday.

The state natural area at which we located our first geocache. It was 62 on Saturday.

As it did in 2012, spring appears to be arriving early. Many folks love this, I know, and for a few days, I, too, appreciate it. But — and there’s always a but — fall and winter have my heart. I love being chilly while I ride on the trails, walk through the woods, or work on the yards. In fact, I bike further, walk longer, and generally work harder when it’s cool or cold. More, an early spring, especially if it is followed by the drought conditions that defined 2012, will likely spell the end of the oak out back.

It was weakened five years ago and has struggled ever since. Also weakened in the summer of 2012, the spruce finally succumbed to the effects of the drought in the spring of 2014. Despite a sizeable investment in the services of a professional arborist, the previous owner’s horrific pruning cost me the gorgeous maple in 2014, too. Then a terrible summer storm in 2015 took the ornamental tree out front. I’ve invested in one treatment after another to restore the oak out back and protect the oak out front, but these temps and the lack of rain worry me. The yew, arborvitae, and holly seem durable, but the “big trees” were one of the forever home’s selling points. I wept over the maple and am losing sleep over the oaks.

If it’s not too much to ask, Spring, please go home for now. I’ll see you in late March. Oh, and when you return? Please bring an appropriate amount of gentle rain.

 

A walk in the woods

Image taken February 4, 2017.

Image taken February 4, 2017.

My husband and I take at least one long walk-hike together each weekend. When pressed for time, we wander the neighborhood, but we prefer to head to one of the parks or conservation areas. (And our middle-aged feet and knees certainly prefer the trails to the sidewalks.)

From Anna Botsford Comstock’s Handbook of Nature Study:

In my belief, there are two and only two occupations for Saturday afternoon or forenoon for a teacher. One is to be out-of-doors and the other is to lie in bed, and the first is best. Out in this, God’s beautiful world, there is everything waiting to heal lacerated nerves, to strengthen tired muscles, to please and content the soul that is torn to shreds with duty and care.

Winter at the sites we most enjoy can be stark, but even in the gray hardness, cold beauty is evident. That said, it is difficult for this trail to compete with its autumn afternoon finery.

Same trail on October 2, 2015.

Same trail on October 2, 2015.

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Nature Museum

img_0142 img_0197 img_0200 img_0151 img_0251 img_0230 img_0234The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum attracts young children and weary caregivers — and us. The Butterfly Haven alone is worth the cost of admission, but we also love visiting the Beecher Collections Laboratory and related exhibits, and I adore the “Heritage of the Chicago Academy of Sciences” room. Although smaller, “Frogs: A Chorus of Color” actually gives the Shedd’s “Amphibians” a run for its money. (Note that “Frogs” closes on January 22.)