Skip to main content

Ides of February


The blog was ready for a change. This wallpaper looks a bit garish now, but this looks vaguely Bloomsburyish.

Mid-February already, and we’re in fifth week. Shockingly, this means only three more weeks until the Easter vacation and Ireland, a house in the backwater of Killarney. The weather has been suitably miserable. Hilary is the dark term. Everyone is willing to hunker down in their rooms until Trinity, which begins in April around the time of the Royal Wedding. I haven’t done much aside from work (and avoid it by walking up and down the stairs). Reading Chaucer has led to Thomas Hoccleve and his Marian lyrics. With scattered showers of literary theory every odd Thursday. I may throw over everything in favour of Brighton Rock.

The snowdrops are out, and that means spring. (Does it?) Morning and evening birds sing. They weren’t there two weeks ago.

Last Saturday night I found I had grown restless and ached to move about. Leaving college with three friends, we walked to Port Meadow just before ten and crossed onto it while the moon and the stars were still out. Cassiopeia was visible, and the Plough (the Big Dipper). Horses loomed next to the stile we crossed onto the meadow, just on the edge of Jericho, only fifteen minutes on foot from the center of town. They watched us warily, and moved heavily like rhinos. Over the bridge; the Cherwell at night; the canal boats moored, several of them with lights on behind frowsy curtains; the river life. We stopped at the Perch for a pint, returned as the clouds washed over, and, stiff-legged, took a chocolate digestible before bed.

Comments

Annie said…
For the first time in days the sun is out and reading your post I just feel like getting in the car and driving down to Oxford for the day - which would be my equivalent of your walking up and down stairs. My other favourite displacement activity is simply downing tools and walking round campus. We have a large campus, walking round it can put off whatever it is I don't want to do for a very long time.
pea said…
lovely, makes me feel the restlessness of a forever-wet-and-howling spring, something that we still share, unfortunately (but is it?) :) also. LOVE wallpaper. Perfect choice. Lemons?! Wondrous.
Annie - I envy your sun! Pea - soon my love. (And embarrassingly enough, I did not notice the lemons. I just thought Bloomsbury. But I like it: it's the season for lemons...)
pea said…
is is always the season for lemons.

Popular posts from this blog

More Moomins

A friend once said that the thing she loved about Japan was that the Japanese loved every season, and made a great effort to celebrate holidays and seasons with specific rituals. As a person who enjoys holidays, and who finds meaning participating in the ritual of the Christian year, I feel a kinship with the Japanese. As humans, we respond to the larger, uncontrollable mysteries of life with stories, with food, with a renewed sense of connection to each other and to the world around us.

It is easy, with the early darkness and the frost on our windshields and the necessity of coats and thicker socks, to complain about the dying of the year and the coming of winter.

Here is a must-read this time of year: Tove Jansson’s Moominvalley in November. Where her other Moomin books have been characterized by happy bohemianism and quirky, midsummer adventures, this book is not afraid to deal with the stark and empty season that comes once a year.

It is raining steadily upon the tall dark trees. D…

Blast-beruffled plumes

I’ve returned to Minnesota to find it transformed into a Brueghel painting.



Our hunters are gone north or even south, wherever there are more deer. This has been a bad year for deer, threatened by the cold of last year’s polar vortex and the high population of coyotes, which now carry a bounty on their heads.

So, while it’s still autumn in England (I’ve been assured), winter has come. The nights are long, the wreaths are out. I’ve been reading restlessly – Robert Walser and GB Shaw. But some nights, Thomas Hardy feels just right for November melancholia. Here’s ‘A Darkling Thrush’:

I leant upon a coppice gate
When Frost was spectre-grey,
And Winter's dregs made desolate
The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
Had sought their household fires.

The land's sharp features seemed to be
The Century's corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
Th…

Cassandra at the Wedding - Dorothy Baker

The perfect airplane read for a person en route to a wedding, this tautly written 1962 novel about a woman falling apart, coming home to her family’s ranch to derail her twin sister’s wedding. That’s the summary – but obviously it’s about so much more: about the nature of love and obsession, about identity and the self.

Cassandra Edwards, named for the doomed wailer at the gates of Troy, is a student at Berkley, an “Existentialist-Zen-Marxist, Freudian branch. Deviation, rather.” The reader is fully aware from the beginning that Cassandra feels antagonistically about the wedding – she anticipates duties of “tak[ing] over the bouquet while [Judith] received the ring, through the nose or on the finger, wherever she chose to receive it…” She purposefully gets the groom’s name wrong. She plans to stage a “last-minute rescue.”

The isolated family ranch the Edwards family as a self-sufficient unit – emotionally and intellectually. Her alcoholic father, a retired skeptical philosopher who act…