Friday, December 21, 2007

Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening

Pittsburgh - I've been thinking of Robert Frost quite a bit lately. His poem that appears below seems to me to be written for today, the shortest day (or "darkest evening") of the year.

I have been thinking more frequently about Frost mainly because of how The Road Not Taken applies more to my life lately, especially the part about two roads diverging in a wood and taking the one less traveled by. This will manifest itself in different ways now and in the future, and I'm looking forward to the adventure.

Anyway, I'm here for a few days before spending Christmas with my brother-in-law on Cape Cod. He lives in a group home, and with no immediate family left except for me and Evan I feel it's up to me to show that he still has family that cares for him. After last year's debacle with bringing him out to GJ, I felt it would be better to do the traveling this time, and I have other business on the Cape as well. I'll be back the Friday after Christmas. Promises to keep, miles to go before I sleep.

I drove around with Leslie last night, looking at Christmas lights at some of the more upscale properties in my home town and contemplating the changes in the area since I last roamed here on a daily basis. Changes, indeed.

Have a wonderful Christmas.

Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening - Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Dan Fogelberg

The news of the loss of Dan Fogelberg this morning sent me and probably lots of people my age back to their teenage years. For me, the loss hits harder because he died of cancer in his 50's, like Jan and too many others in recent years. I'm more emotional about this than I guess I should be, but his music helped to form the soundtrack for some of the best years of my life, and still does. I am using one of his songs for Words next month. I wish that I could fit in a few more.

What will have to suffice is a short tribute here. Several of Dan's songs are among my all time favorites. I used Longer as part of Jan's memorial service music. Leader of the Band is an amazing tribute to his father, and makes many a band geek get wistful about the good old days.
He even got into social commentary a little, partnering with Tim Weisberg for an album that included The Power of Gold.

But nothing else Fogelberg ever wrote put its' hooks into me like Nether Lands. There was a great video tribute posted to YouTube using this most orchestrated but also most intimate ballad. Apologies in advance to those of you at work who are firewalled from this. I also put the lyric underneath; it's a fitting tribute to someone who inspired and who will be missed, especially in this season of peace.

Enjoy the days to come.

Nether Lands

High on this mountain
The clouds down below
I'm feeling so strong and alive
From this rocky perch
I'll continue to search
For the wind and the snow and the sky
Oh I want a lover and I want some friends
And I want to live in the sun
And I want to do all the things that I never have done

Sunny bright mornings and pale moonlit nights
Keep me from feeling alone
Now I'm learning to fly and this freedom is like
Nothing that I've ever known
Oh I've seen the bottom and I've been on top
But mostly I've lived in between
And where do you go when you get to the end of your dream

Off in the Nether Lands I heard the sound
Like the beating of heavenly wings
And deep in my brain I can hear a refrain
Of my soul as she rises and sings
Anthems to glory and anthems to love
And hymns filled with earthly delight
Like the songs that the darkness composes to worship the light

Once in a vision I came on some woods
And stood at a fork in the road
My choices were clear yet I froze with the fear
Of not knowing which way to go
Oh, one road was simple acceptance of life
The other road offered sweet peace
When I made my decision
My vision became my release

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Twentysomething Travelogue

Keystone - I'm here because I ferried my son and two of his friends for the 36 Hours of Keystone, which at first blush appears to be a convergence of as many twentysomethings (and younger) as possible on the ski resort for 36 hours of nonstop skiing, snowboarding, and associated revelry.

The weather was cooperative for most of the event, except that in its' aftermath I am battling a low-grade fever and hopefully not the beginnings of the flu, a shot for which I have procrastinated about.

The boys are just settling in for what will probably be about 3 hours of sleep before using their seemingly boundless energy (augmented by energy drinks, the new motivator of this generation) to hit the slopes for a couple of hours again before we head back. I hope that my good friend Ibuprofen will help me keep the chills, etc. at bay until we get back to GJ.

I've found the last several hours very interesting, observing the youngest generation in action. The emphasis placed by Keystone on safety and responsible behavior on the slopes has had a significant effect; the lines to reach the lift and gondola to the lighted trails have been made worse by a security checkpoint, apparently looking for alcohol (I surmised this by the number of discarded containers along the path of the checkpoint queue).

I looked at the sheer number of private security and uniformed public safety personnel on site, and tried to draw a comparison between this event and the average twentysomething's way of blowing off steam in Grand Junction, that being Rum Bay, which like its' predecessor Bourbon Street had generated its' share of ill will with neighbors and law enforcement alike.
I was indeed glad that a real estate office replaced the nuisance bar in my neighborhood.

I believe that the proof of the new owners' tenacity will lie in how effectively they identify problem patrons, and head off a disturbance before it happens, if at all possible. We'll see what happens.

For the most part, the throng at Keystone has been well-behaved. Gotta ski, of course. There were some humorous (I think) bumper stickers placed at several locations that were uncomplimentary of skiers from Texas. Decorum prevents any further description. If the preferences of this group are any indicator, snowboarding is much more popular than more traditional methods of getting across the snow. I wouldn't have an idea of what is easier or more fun, as I haven't donned a pair of skis in 30 years. I would like to try snowboarding sometime. Leslie wants to as well. Maybe we can hold each other up and try to prevent any fortysomething fractures or dislocations. I'd like to snowshoe someday. Something else for the long list.

This group is certainly not a statistical representation of the real world; skiing ain't cheap, and minorities are conspicuously under-represented. I'll just say I'm watching cautiously, and doing the best I can to make sure that my addition to this generation holds up his weight.


On an unrelated note, congratulations to Rick Wagner on his new column and the listing of his blog on the Sentinel's website. Rick is thoughtful, considerate in the majority of circumstances, and an intelligent voice in the Grand Valley community. We agree on some issues, disagree more often than not, but I respect him nonetheless.

Rick seems to have jumped into his new ventures with both feet.
His blog entry of December 1 had an interesting photo associated with it, and juxtaposes rather starkly with a well-written story in Saturday's Rocky. Regardless of what Gov. Ritter's motives are with the discussion of union representation among state employees (which I haven't followed well enough to have an informed opinion either way), he's no Castro.

Rick's inaugural Sentinel column also drew the attention of Colorado Media Matters. All I can say is that there are times when we all have a Woodstein moment, but with faith and perseverance the truth will make itself known to us. Of that much I'm hopeful for.

Speaking of interesting pictures, The New Yorker had another cover this week that deftly captures the unfortunate circumstances with which we find ourselves saddled.

All I want to know is if Blackwater has this contract too.

Best wishes for His blessings upon your holidays and the year to come.