Tag Archives: play

Inspired by the Land

It is summertime now, and most folks are on vacation. What does vacation mean? Without Work. A foregoing of commercial intention. A release from intention to engage in the discovery of the I AM that lives in this human being. And most folks in the Northwest go out into the woods, into the mountains.

What we get, if we actually get away…. from media, city rhythms, from other’s sounds, from our inner hum-drum…. is genuine inspiration. Ancient trees, moss covered fortresses that have withstood centuries of rain and wind. and that wind, which I never understood till this year, is very orderly. Yes, it makes us confused, it disturbs us with the dust it raises, but it is not confused. It is the gentle mover. It moves the dapples in the canopy of trees that shade the earth from the scorching sun. That sun that we will seek for warmth as the dry autumn falls upon us as leaves fall upon the ground, now in summer that sun burns what it touches. The earth, it misses its ancient canopy.

It is amazing to me that so few realize the profundity of the gift that old trees give. A lofty canopy of rich cool shade, with tall stems reaching deep into spongy soil netted with roots and mycorrhizal rhizomes, or as the Indians used to say: grandfathers shaking hands, beneath the ground. Big trees not only provide shade, and in their death – topsoil, oh, and the air we breath, the culture of their roots provides the nursery for soil creation, home to the flowers of rot: mushrooms.

My patriotism is nourished by the land, the respect for the land that the original people here had and still have. They are sometimes called Indians, sometimes called Native Americans, but in practice here, in the Pacific Northwest, They call themselves by the name of the river near which they were born. The Yakima, the Warm Springs, the Cowlitz, the Stillaguamish, the Tulalips all members of the Salish, or Salmon Eaters. Try googling
Salish.

So inventive we Americans. Coming back from the woods, refreshed, inspired. I wonder how many city dwellers now across the land, create the chance, to be so inspired.

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Music in the Family

It was on this day in 1913 that the French Academy of Fine Arts — for the first time in its history — presented its highest award, the Prix de Rome, to a woman.

That woman composer, Lili Boulanger, was just 19 years old at the time. Born in Paris in 1893, she was the younger sister of Nadia Boulanger, and far more gifted. Nevertheless, Nadia would become the most famous teacher of composition in the 20th century, numbering among her students an amazing array of famous American composers from Aaron Copland, Philip Glass and Elliot Carter who is still composing at 102.

Nadia’s sister Lili, however, suffered from poor health. Her tragically short career was interrupted by World War I, when she volunteered to nurse wounded soldiers. She died before the great conflict was over, on March 15, 1918, at the age of 24.

While Nadia, who never married composed music herself, she had played with genius as she grew up, and one would speculate, that led to her fecund nurturing of so many composers, a beacon of human cultivation for the ages.

The Bach family too, was famous for the competition among siblings and family in little musical games. This was the very play, initiating the idiom, “playing music”. Too often it is seen as work. Noted Montana composer and teacher Eric Funk played games with his gifted brothers. Why gifted? Was it because they played with music, as well as “played” music. They played together in the car, for example, the children saw music as game.  Singing second harmonies, or inverting the melody of the last line sung.    There are games where alertness breeds alertness.

Our culture seems to have not “time” for music in the play. Too concerned with matters of consequence to educate our children in music or art. Too concerned with performance, and the ‘canning’ and often sale of the creative relationship all can hear. This was certainly not the view of Thomas Jefferson, who wrote in letter on June 8, 1778, in which he was dreaming of a farmers orchestra : “I retain among my domestic servants a gardener, a weaver, a cabinet-maker, and a stone-cutter, to which I would add a vigneron.     In a country where music is cultivated and practised by every class of
men, I suppose there might be found persons of those trades who could  perform on the French horn, clarinet, or hautboy, and bassoon so that  one might have a band . . . without enlarging their domestic expenses.”

This was a farmer looking to have culture at home. Today with the internet
we can simulate culture….. but the vitality of people playing live music together for fun has been thrown into the garage with the teenagers. Oh that we could have music played together, acoustic and un-amplified, so that culture could blossom,  as it did around young Lili Boulanger’s sister, Nadia.

Update on Ted Glick of yesterday’s post.
D.C. Superior Court Judge Frederick H. Weisberg on Tuesday sentenced Ted Glick, policy director of Chesapeake Climate Action Network, to 30 days in jail but suspended the term. However, Weisberg ordered Glick to perform 40 hours of community service, pay $1,000 in fines, and serve one year of unsupervised probation. 7-7-2010. The threatened three year prison sentence in this case was the prosecutor’s shot across the bow.