the shells of morning

I want to write about the light and cool of this August morning, how I looked just now at the shells John hung above the summer table, how they have something of heaven in them as they shimmer together– their sound echoed in the Adagio of Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez which I am listening to before going out to do the watering, the vegetable gathering (beans! Savoy cabbages like Dutch still-lifes! Cucumber skins opaque with dew!).

shells of morning.jpg

Last night we returned home from the Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts to hear something large crashing over on the other side of the garden and this morning we know that it was an elk breaking down a small chestnut, gorging on the leaves, shattering the branches, and then disappearing into the darkness. On Thursday, in the afternoon, we saw a huge bull elk up at the edge of the grass, eating ocean spray. He had the biggest set of antlers I’ve ever seen, six points on each side, and still covered in golden velvet. In the particular light of mid-afternoon, his antlers seemed to be growing out of the copper beech between him and us, the copper beech under which my parents’ ashes are scattered (beech for Bukovina, my paternal grandfather’s place of origin; and for book; the book of my own origins). I could smell the elk from where I watched on the upper deck. The bulls are readying themselves for the autumn rut and in the past I once heard two of them bugling at each other in our woods, vying for harems. And this morning you can smell him again in the cool air, his breath green with chestnut leaves.


Dreaming of the fragrance of magnolias

It’s a very wet morning. As an antidote, I’ve been listening to Rodrigo’s ravishing Concierto de Aranjuez. The composer said of this work that it contains “the fragrance of magnolias, the singing of birds, and the gushing of fountains in the gardens of Aranjuez” and who’s to argue? The adagio is particularly evocative, so slow and modulated, the beautiful conversation between the horn and the guitar. I have a cd featuring Carlos Bonell on guitar with the Orchestre symphonique de Montreal, conducted by Charles Dutoit, and it’s very fine. But I love Paco de Lucia’s recording too. Here’s a Youtube clip of him playing the adagio, a perfect thing to listen to in rain, longing for Spain and the fragrance of magnolias.