Posts Tagged ‘Joan Baez’

Letter From Claverack 11 25 2016 Thankfulness after Thanksgiving…

November 25, 2016

Outside the window, it is grey, darkish and chill.  Judy Collins is playing on my Echo [Alexa!  Play Judy Collins!  And she does.]. It is the day after Thanksgiving, the kind of day to curl up with a good book, a blanket and a fire, which I will do after finishing this missive.

My friend, Sarah, sent me something she had received from one of her dearest friends, who now lives in a Buddhist monastery.  “May you enjoy a peaceful day of gratitude for everything that is good and right in the world.”

A great thought for the day after Thanksgiving.  There is, after all, much that is not right in the world.

The list of things wrong in this world is endless.

And so, too, is the list of all the things right in the world.  When I wake in the morning, I do my best to take a moment to be grateful that I have awakened, that I live, that I am surrounded these days by the soft winter beauty that is my little patch of earth.

Yesterday, Lionel, Pierre, their dog, Marcel, and I wandered up the road to Larry and Alicia’s home, with a view down to the Hudson River.  We ate, drank, were merry, and grateful and then gathered around the baby grand piano and Lionel “bashed” out tunes to which all but me sang along.  I cannot carry a tune; sitting instead on the sofa, I listened with joy.

We stayed last night at the Keene Farm, Larry and Alicia’s guest house, a wonderful, smaller house than their home at Mill Brook Farm, which is the main residence. That is a house with its foundations in the Dutch settlers in the 1600’s, added onto in the 18th Century, restored in the 20th, added onto again in the 21st.  As we left there today, I was thinking I have what I have and I am happy with what I have, content in this third act time.

One of the things I have in this world are wonderful friends.

On Holidays, I have a tradition of texting everyone I have texted in the last year with a “Happy Thanksgiving” or a “Merry Christmas” or “Happy New Year.”  Yesterday, my friend Jeffrey texted back he was grateful I was in his life and tears sprung to my eyes.  We’ve known each other a long time; been a constant in each other’s lives.  It felt so good to know.

Kevin, my nephew, texted me that he loved me as did my godson.  Smiles played on my lips.  Two such wonderful men; so lucky to have them in my life.

After last night’s feast, we brunched today at the Keene Farm; Lionel and I cooked while Pierre walked, Marcel sniffing around, enjoying the wonders of a new place.

The world is scary.  Terrible things are happening and I know that.  I am sourly aware that a bomb exploded yesterday in Baghdad, killing Iranian pilgrims.  In Iran, a train derailment took 43 lives.  Refugees are pawns in the political war of wills between the EU and Turkey.

And outside my window, the Claverack Creek slowly makes it way to the pond at the edge of Jim Ivory’s land, full this year of geese, after their absence for nearly five years. It feels a little order has returned to the universe.

Yesterday, a bald eagle swooped up the creek and took momentary residence on a tree limb across from my window.  Then he spread his wings wide and soared up creek, to the north, seeking I know not what.

The bald eagle, symbol of the American Republic, a troubled Republic we all know, yet I quote my great friend Jan Hummel:  we will survive this.  We survived Warren G. Harding, after all, and Grover Cleveland, who was a scoundrel of the worst sort.

Google it…

Dried, dead leaves scatter my deck, an Adirondack chair sits looking lonely over the creek, the dull grey of the skies has continued now for two days.  Now I am listening to Joan Baez, thinking back, gratefully, to those days in my youth when I first heard Judy Collins and Joan Baez.

We are all tender right now.  Being grateful for the good things in our lives will help us heal, I think.




Letter From New York 08 08 2016 One special year…

August 8, 2016

It is a little after four in the afternoon of a perfect summer day in Claverack.  It is warm but not hot; humidity is low.  The creek is still and mirrors back the trees that line its bank.  There is the occasional thrumming of a bird’s cry. A very soft wind blows my hair.

At 3:30 this morning the alarm went off and I woke, actually rather gracefully, stretched and began the day.  The weekend had been spent with my friends Nick and Lisa, at their new house in Harwich Port on Cape Cod, about a mile or so from where Lisa’s parents had had a home, a place where she grew up and not too unlike the English fishing village where Nick had grown up before going off to Boarding School.

On the way over, I resolved to listen to no news and played CD’s, particularly enjoying one by Judy Collins.  On one track there is a haunting lyric, “You thought you were the crown prince of all the wheels in Ivory Town…”

On my first day of class at the University of Minnesota, I went to my Freshman Spanish class.  Marvin Reich was my TA for Spanish.  The sun flowed into that room that day not unlike the way it is flowing over me tonight on the deck.  At one point he looked at me.  “Rubio! ¿Cómo te llamas?”  Blonde one, what is your name?

I answered, “Mi nombre es Mateo.”

He asked me a couple of other simple questions and I answered him.  Two years before I had been in Honduras and had done my best to speak.  Marvin smiled at me.

As we left class, Marvin caught up with me and started asking me about myself.  Two women arrived.  They were Caroline Keith and Mahryam Daniels, both Grad TA’s in Spanish.  I am not sure what happened that day but they became my friends.

There was Marvin, sometimes known as “Mo,” Caroline and Marhyam, whose father very successfully sold bathroom fixtures to contractors building all the homes that were booming up in the 1950’s and 1960’s in the Twin Cities.

All three of them were years older and yet I seemed always comfortable with them and they with me.  They were the most important figures of my freshman year. 

Once Caroline and I sat late into the night talking, she telling me her secrets.  We all have them.   She looked at me and said, “I can’t believe I am telling all of this shit to an 18 year old.  But I never think of you as 18.”

It was Marvin who was our glue and at the end of my freshman year, he departed, to lead a life of adventure.  I am sure he did.  It’s always been my hope he found all the adventures he was looking for because even though I have looked for him, I have never found him.

He introduced me to Judy Collins, Laura Nyro, Linda Ronstadt, Joan Baez.  We sat all night some nights in his apartment, talking, his small, golden dog curled at our feet, drinking coffee but really fueled by benzedrine.

It was a most amazing year and when Marvin left to find his adventures, we were all devastated and drifted apart, too shattered to cling together on life’s life raft.  We pulled away from the Titanic in different boats to find our futures in other places.

And yet,  I have spent this past weekend thinking of them and mourning them, all brought together by a Judy Collins lyric, which took me back, suddenly and unexpectedly, to a winter morn in Marvin’s apartment, he telling me “You must hear this…” 

It has never left me.  That moment has never left me.  And I hope that wherever they are, they have found the lives they wanted.  They were extraordinary people and I was extraordinarily blessed to have been grabbed by them and incorporated by them in their lives.  For one special year…