Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The whole world is church of stained glass and filled with music...

Continuing to move some of my favorite entries over from my old LiveJournal, and with the Autumn colors here, this is an important one to me. It is a difficult time of year for an artist. We tend to be dangerous. Walking into posts while looking at leaves on the ground, or suddenly stopping, caught up in the light on the mountain side. This post, on beauty, and light, and color, and a little movie, sums that up for me. Although it was in a summer evening, the rapture is all the same.

Originally posted June 24, 2008


Last night the Wildwose Clan had decided to settle in to watch August Rush, the 2007 movie with Robin Williams and Freddie Highmore.

In the midst of the movie, a huge storm front came crashing over our mountain, thundering and shaking the house, until I glanced out the window to see that particular kind of light that I knew would be just right for a rainbow...

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Original is sized as a computer desktop
As for the movie, well, it was just wonderful. Funny how it actually didn't get very good reviews generally. Comments like "transparent plot", and "wildly unrealistic"...well duh! 

Early in the movie the lead character says, 

"I believe in music the way some people believe in fairy tales"

A fairy tale is an escape from the ordinary. A time out of time. A portal or path into another world or way of thinking. This is what music is. Especially to musicians. I know this, although I'm not a "musician". That is, I don't play any instrument very well, and tend to get a little lost in melodies. I tend to believe that music, like most art, is a choice that you don't really make. Sure, most folks could be taught. But musicians, they are born. The prolific and talented writer Stephen King once said, "People come up to me at parties and say they have always wanted to write, and I reply that I never had a choice!"

My personal experience of art is like that. Rapture is a daily occurrence for me. I will freeze up at the experience of light on a flower, or say, the colors of a rainbow. As a matter of fact, I have a personal rule about rainbows. Unless you live near a huge waterfall, or far up the Rocky Mountains, or on vast ocean front with storms, you will only experience a small number of rainbows in your life. So I believe that there should be a cultural agreement about them. Whatever we are doing, wherever we are, all work should stop when one makes an appearance. Families should go out and watch the light change, drivers should pull to the side of the road. A moment of pure celebration in the absolute beauty of the natural world. So that is exactly what we did.

Here is a panoramic shot digitally stitched together, of the rainbow arcing over our home. I have included Leah holding Ellawyn for a bit of scale. I wish I had taken the rest of our yard in that exquisite light.

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Light and music are both intrinsically intertwined in my mind. Vibrations and waves. Sound and Color. It's funny actually, although I am not a "musician", movies like August Rush and the experience the young hero has, are intensely familiar to me. That all sound is a tune is something I know in my bones. Years ago, before I met Leah, I lived with a young lady who was a opera singer and musician. She taught me so much about listening. How to pick out and hear violins amongst an orchestra. That in big movie theater, just before the film starts, the crowd is a hum that can be felt. And perhaps the best of all, I would get to place my hands on her's, while she was practicing conducting, and feel the rhythms that she, a trained musician, could know in a way I never could. I will always remember that.

The movie manages to really convey this. August stands in a field, sweeping the sound around him through the tall grain. He walks rapturously down a New York street to the beat of the city life. And taps out a wild and joyful tune the first time he handles a guitar. That guitar music is actually performed by the talented Kaki King. Her well known skills at Slapping & Tapping are beautifully presented in the movie where she even "plays" the hands of Freddie Highmore for scenes. Here is the scene of August discovering the guitar.

We watched that rainbow for quite a while. It split, spreading it spectrum across two bands, then broke, only to come back with brighter colors. Towards the end the storm pushed the moisture front, the great wall of water vapor forming the lens of refraction, out until the bow stretched over most of the horizon. Wisps of clouds, ragged from winds, flew in under the edge of the front to pass across the surface of the rainbow. Here is one image of that. I may paint this one day.

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This was all surprising late at night. Although it could hardly be called night time with the brightness. At our elevation, facing southeast as we do, twilight doesn't begin until 9:30 PM or later. With the high winds and ridge behind us, we get these dramatic storms regularly, but never quite like this. The trailing edge of the front was crisp. A line of demarcation between rolling clouds full of moisture and a sky so blue and washed clean that our eyes and skin reflected it. Here's a picture of that back edge, although, this in no way accurately conveys the color of blue. I have never quite seen that before.

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Once the light started to fade, my family dragged me and my camera, reluctantly, back inside. We finished the movie, which as fairy tales often do, was improbably and unrealistic and had a nice happy ending.

But one thing came of it. Today, I am looking seeing more clearly, being deeply. Drinking up the cool air and soaking in the crisp green of the trees. As if the whole world were a church made of stained glass and filled with organ music...

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