Sunday, January 22, 2012


This is the time of year when things become clear. I speak, of course, about the air. Having lived more than half my life in Southern California, I have joined the ranks of those who prefer to speak of haze rather than smog. In fact, I am not even sure we have smog anymore – just an occasional rather dirty marine layer that lingers overlong. But with the cooperation of high and low pressure systems somewhere else and the resultant cleansing winds sweeping down upon us, we get days during the winter months that remind us of what those not blessed with our haze enjoy most of the rest of the time – crystal clear days of sharp shadows and crisp horizons, hills jutting up into the blue-blue sky, distant landscapes sharp silhouettes against the flaming sunset. It is as if we have just gotten new eyeglasses – we can see as we were meant to see! And it is glorious! Such detailed beauty usually gets rounded down, the edges softened until it is completely unnoticed.
It is as if the individual singers in this majestic choir are each able to be heard in their unique contribution to the chorus. They usually blend together so that one voice fades into another until all are indistinguishable – the sound is wonderful, but tends to mushy. But on days like today, each word, each note, each harmony, sung be each member of this cosmic ensemble is heard precisely, distinctly – without loss to the glory of the whole. The rugged basso profundo of the near hills and distant mountains have no muddiness in the deep tones of reverent awe. Their crisp richness provides a solid foundation for the playful harmonies of the tenor voices of the trees sharp against the sky, each nuance in bark and branch highlighted in  their part of the song. The baritone oaks display an unusual delicacy in this finely tuned offering. The high tenor birches almost dance in the sheer joy of the upper ranges of their capacity. Floating just above and just below them, the shrubs and grasses and vibrant flowers fill in the alto parts, giving a precisely textured counter-point to the soprano melodies of the birds playfully celebrating the music of the spheres. And then, just when it seems that there is no more music to be made, the distant, ethereal descants of the high clouds and the whispering rhythms of the wind take the symphony to a whole new level of wonder.
There is probably some meaning to be derived from all this clarity when the wind blows – some lesson to be learned. But, for now, it is enough to enjoy. And say thank you.

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