Up At 5AM and Hard At It

33  bar steep fall 30.11  6mph N  windchill 33

    Waxing Gibbous Moon of Winds

Boy is my sense of time screwed up.  Got up at 4:30AM for the bathroom.  Went back to bed.  No sleep.  Waited.  Still no sleep.  So at 5AM I got up, went downstairs, opened by John Weber collection catalogue and tried to figure out what to do next.  This was difficult because I had put my notes for the tour in the carrier I take when I go into the museum.  That location didn’t occur to me until ten sleepy minutes had gone by shuffling this paper and that trying to locate the item I needed to finish the tour.  Those notes.

But I did find them.  As a quiet spring snow began to fall outside in the dark, I entered again the world of the Heian poets, the Shining Prince Genji and the floating world of courtesans, no theatre and elegant costume.  Japan and China are strange and distant cultures for most Westerners so entree into their world does not come without some struggle, some setting aside of preconceived notions. 

Over the last three years in particular I have worked hard to get a handle on the historical context in both Japan and China.  I’ve worked harder on China, but Japan has had some time from me, too.  As so often happens in the life of the mind, eventually the heart begins to follow and somewhere along the line I went from interested to captivated. 

It was easy then to begin comparing poems used in the poetry competitions, mythical contests in which cultured Japanese matched poets from different eras, then matched two of their poems that seem to have resonance.  The competition was not between the two poets in question of course, but among the Japanese who created the matches.  It would be like, say, putting Robert Frost’s “Snowy Evening” against one of Emily Dickinson’s darker pieces, Wallace Stevens and Coleridge. 

So it went for two hours until the dogs began to whine and I let them out of their crates, fed them and began my own breakfast.

After breakfast I caught another hour and a half or so of sleep, then drove into the Common Roots Cafe where the docent book club gathered to discuss the (apparent) lack of religion/spirituality in contemporary art.  I guided this discussion, but I’m afraid I didn’t conceive a way to do it fruitfully.  We had a lot of conversation, though, and I think we may have gotten greater clarity from it than was immediately obvious. 

It was Tom Blyfeld’s 80th birthday.  He celebrates his 56th wedding anniversary on Friday.  He mentioned the doctor who delivered two of his children, a man 90 something who has great-great grandchildren. Amazing.  He will celebrate his 65th wedding anniversary.  These are numbers unattainable by most of us in the divorce generation.

Tonight is the celebration of St. Patrick’s day at Frank Broderick’s.  He bought the meat last Friday.  His table always groans with meat and potatoes and cabbage.  I look forward to it each year.

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