Monday, December 31, 2007

A Snowy December - with an Aussie Connection

It’s been a very snowy December this year in Minnesota, ensuring that we’re experiencing some beautiful winter scenes - not to mention a picture-postcard “white Christmas” last Tuesday.

The photo above, as with many of the ones below, was taken in my back garden in St. Paul. The dormant winter garden has a beauty all its own, I’ve discovered. And it brings to mind Thomas Newman’s beautiful music for Angels in America, and, in particular, this music’s predominant use of the oboe. If the duck was a song bird, it’s noted in Angels in America, it would sound like the oboe: “nasal, desolate, the call of migratory things.”

(To watch and hear the opening of the HBO mini-series Angels in America, click here.)

I took the above photo while walking through the campus of the University of Minnesota on Friday, December 28, 2007. I’d been in nearby Dinkytown visiting my favorite used book store, Cummings Books. Not only does it have a great “piled to the rafters” selection of books, but the owner’s pets - including two dogs, two cats, and two parrots - are always present and looking for some friendly attention.

Above and below: Icicles, as sharp as needles, hang from the eaves of all the houses in my neighborhood.

Seeing icicles like these always reminds me of the book,
Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire. I read it years ago and so don’t recall all of the details. However, I do remember that one of the characters meets an untimely end when a great melting icicle falls and impales him! Needless to say, I don’t linger under the icicles on my house.

Above and below: The back deck and garden of my St. Paul home.

Above: With my friend Aaron (left) at his uncle and aunt’s Maple Lake farm - December 30, 2007.

As I write, it’s Monday, December 31 - the last day of 2007. The photo above shows what I was doing this time last year. That’s me standing at right, and, as you can see, I had no need of heavy winter clothing as I was in Australia, awaiting the successful completion of my longer-than-expected green card process. On the last day of 2006, I was enjoying, not the snowy beauty of a Minnesota winter, but the beauty of Australia’s Ellenborough Falls with members of my family.

For more images of that day, visit here.

Now, I may not be in Australia at the moment, but I'm happy to say that, in a way, Australia recently came to me!

My good friend Garth, who’s currently in the U.S. with his girlfriend, made a quick 18-hour visit to St. Paul from Baltimore!

Garth was very impressed with the snow – the first he’d ever seen! Yesterday, my neighbor and friend, Aaron, drove Garth and I through the wintry countryside to his uncle and aunt’s farm in Maple Lake. It was a great trip – despite the fact that we were all hungover and tired from having stayed up all night drinking wine (six bottles between the three of us!), talking, and, at one point, soaking in a hot tub!

Above: Garth, in front of my St. Paul home - December 30, 2007.

Garth, too, was wary of the icicles. And without ever having read Wicked!

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