Sally’s Tale of the Wild Things

Last week, we spent several days “up north” at Howie and Sally’s cottage on Oxbow Lake. It’s a great place to relax and to experience some remnants of wildness — bald eagles, loons, deer, wild turkeys, once in a while a bear.

Soon after we arrived, Sally shared with us the tale of an early spring experience.  It is the story of an encounter with wildlife in their cottage world.  It’s a simple tale, yet it touched me deeply.

The Tale

Early this spring, upon their arrival at the cottage, absorbed in the flurry of activity involved in settling in for comings and goings all summer long, Sally looked up through her kitchen window to see a doe standing only a few feet away, staring at her. The deer literally stayed there for the rest of the day, determinedly staring toward the window.

The next day, the doe was out of sight, but all day long Sally and Howie heard her — a sort of bleating sound coming from somewhere in the woods nearby.  On and on it went, with almost no let-up  — a sound full of distress and agitation.

On the third day, the bleating stopped.  At some point later that day, Howie was startled to discover a dead newborn fawn, lying in a small space below one corner of the deck. What sounded so mournful the day before was, indeed, just that:  Or so it certainly seemed.

Surely, this was an experience of being truly a part of a wild creature’s world for a brief period of time.  A doe’s desperate sharing of distress. A doe trying so hard to communicate with two humans.  And for Howie and Sally, a brief but poignant connection with one of the wild things of the world and a glimpse into its inner life.

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Serendipity and the Duo-pianists

Today is July 11, 2016.  It’s early evening here in Wisconsin, and I must get this posting published today — because today is a significant date for me.

Today was my sister Eleanor’s birthday.  She was my “big” sister, 3+ years older than me, and where Eleanor led, I followed.  Eleanor died in 1994; she was 58 years old.

One of the everyday activities of our growing up years was playing duets on the piano at home. Even In our early adulthood and middle years, whenever we were together with our young families, the kids would be playing board games somewhere in the house, and Eleanor and I would be at the piano playing duets.  We didn’t have a large repertoire of music from which to choose, but nevertheless we thoroughly enjoyed playing what we had — Erik Satie’s Three Pieces in the Form of a Pear, Brahms’ Waltzes, Opus 39, and Bizet’s Children’s Games.

Somewhere in the late 1990s, friend Melinda asked me in church one day if I would like to try to play some duets together. Yes!  Playing together started out to be once in a while and strictly for ourselves.  Then our time at the piano increased a little to include playing in church, and attending a monthly music group of nonprofessionals who played for each other.  A few years ago, we somewhat hesitantly decided to try working with a piano coach, a decision that turned out to be fantastic for our piano skills and musical understandings. We have been working with Jess ever since.  It was Jess who persuaded us to try two-piano works; we were pretty much hooked immediately as we launched into playing Brahms’ Variations on a Theme of Haydn in a practice room in the School of Music on campus.  The opening theme is one of those pieces you can sit down and play decently without any preparation.  The sound was sublime.  Ultimately, Melinda purchased a second piano, rearranged her living and dining rooms, and voila (!), we have two small grand pianos at our disposal all the time.  As Ed says, this is like a gift to me and one which I appreciate dearly.

So where is serendipity in all this piano stuff?

Melinda’s birthday is the same date as my sister Eleanor’s — July 11.  Happy birthday Melinda and happy birthday Eleanor!

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Occupation Haiku at Brenau University

In the fall of 2014, I did some postings on Haiku poetry and the way it grasps the essence of the everyday — in the moment, experiential, transparent meaning (no need for an explanation), reflecting everyday-ness, in the present tense.

My colleague Barbara Schell at Brenau University was taken with the thought of Haiku related to occupation.  She and a faculty member from the English Department developed a Haiku contest among students, complete with competition and awards. They held the contest again this past April, and the winning Haiku poems are shared here.

First place, Katelyn Rochford-Price

1.   Sucking life and milk,
Sucking sleep and money too–
My sweet parasite

Second Place:  Stephanie Bair

2.  Walking along here
No end in sight to the path
But light exists here!

Third Place:  Katharyn (Kacey) Reynolds

3.  Sunlight through curtains
Don’t want to get up just yet
Silent warm cocoon

Congratulations to these winners!  And let yourself feel the sweetness of that newborn baby in the first-place Haiku poem above!