Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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A walk in the Arb

 

Last night I was in Ann Arbor watching the University of Michigan’s Brigadoon with my Aunt.  This morning, before driving back to home I took myself for a walk in the arboretum, a park on the banks of the Huron River.

As I got out of the car I was met by these two.  They were welcoming me to the park.

I was looking for spring, and there were a few signs.

I was out early, and the park was full of animals and birds, but no other people.  I saw a little red squirrel chasing a bigger brown squirrel, and above them was a red tailed hawk just squawking away.  Then I heard footsteps behind me; a little herd of deer was passing me on the hill, coming up from the river.  They looked at me, I looked at them, and I think we all smiled, it was such a beautiful morning even though the sky was heavy with clouds and the threat of rain.

I moved along, looking for more signs of spring.  If you looked closely you could see quite a bit of green.

And I was thinking of Diana when I took this photo; it reminded me of snakes.

Eventually I got back to the memorial to my parents that sits near the canoe landing.

Even though it’s been there a few years now it still makes my heart beat faster when I first see it.  I wish they were walking in the Arb with me, but I guess in a sense they are.

This is the canoe landing near their stone.  Pretty, ey?

Nearby was a downed ash tree, with the pretty but fatal marks of the ash borer that killed it.

And another friendly goose.  My Mom always liked the Canadian geese that visited her dock down in Alabama.

Then I looked just down the river and saw this graffiti on the train trestle.

It seemed fitting.  So I did.


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A river, more peonies and…Shakespere?

My Friday afternoon began with a bit of canoeing in Ann Arbor on the Huron River with my Aunt B.  We canoed from the canoe livery in town to just below the Barton Pond dam.  They said it was two miles of river up to the dam, but it was really more like canoeing on a  beautiful lake.

It’s been a fair number of years since I’ve been in a canoe for any length of time, and today my behind is letting me know that I sat for a good long time on a hard aluminum seat!  I’m surprised my arms aren’t expressing their displeasure at the amount of work I forced out of them yesterday as well.  Of course they may be waiting until I’m less suspecting.   Like tomorrow.


The pond and river were wide and smooth most of our way up to the dam.  On the way back a storm was coming in, the winds picked up and we had little white caps to maneuver.  There was no stopping to rest aching arms, as the  head wind would blow us  further back up  the river whenever we stopped paddling!  It was a challenge that we won!


Later in the day we had a lovely picnic lunch at Nichols Arboretum in preparation for watching Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Nights Dreams” which is being done Thursdays through Sundays through the month of June.  Here’s a link to the Ann Arbor Newspaper’s review which will also tell you a bit about how the play is done in this beautiful outdoor setting.  For those of you in or near Ann Arbor, you really should go enjoy this event.  It’s unique and wonderful and set in a place so beautiful you can hardly believe you’re lucky enough to be there.

We had a marvelous time.  The play began in the peony garden, so I got to take more pictures of the beautiful flowers.  They still look good, though some are not as beautiful as they were last weekend.

The audience gathered in chairs and on blankets along the hillside to watch the opening act; the setting the stage, as it were, of the love between Hermia and Lysander, and the arranged marriage Hermia’s father has made between her and Demetrius, and of Helena whose overwhelming  love for Demetrius has been scorned.

After each scene the audience picks up and moves to a new “set” within the Arboretum.  This makes the production fun, even for people who don’t love Shakespeare.   Each setting seems perfect for the action that takes place there; the hapless couples become more and more confused wandering through the forest on that dream filled night.

The audience gets to see it up close and personal.  The actors are so close  that you can see facial expression, hear most of the words and watch the prat falls as they race up and down the hills of the Arb. 

We enjoyed the fairies dance among the trees in the woods, listened to the magical music played by nymphs on the hillside, and laughed at the antics of  the band of Pucks causing trouble on this midsummer evening.

And then it began to rain.

During the last minutes of the play the thunder rolled and the skies opened up.  Rain poured down in buckets, the production was called for rain and we all ran for our cars.  I haven’t been out in rain like this since I was a little girl.  We got soaked.

But we laughed all the way back to the car.


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Talent

More than a week ago I was able to attend a collage concert in Ann Arbor; a concert that celebrated the entire Music and Theater departments at the University of Michigan.  Bits and pieces of all the works done in the departments were presented one after another with no applause between.  The lighting moved rapidly from place to place on the stage and always where the spotlight fell groups of artists or a single performer began to share their talents with us.   A concert band, jazz ensembles, a single cello player, a saxophone quartet, the cast of Evita, modern dancers, Shakespearean actors, the university symphony, a chamber choir, a group of woodwind players dressed in big hats and giant bow ties, three marimba players.  It went on and on yet it seemed to only last a moment.  A minute of this, three minutes of that, classical followed immediately by popular.  Talent flowing everywhere.

My favorites?  The slim woman who made magic while playing Rachmaninov on a grand piano.  The audience gave a collective sigh when she finished.  And for sheer fun, the four euphonium players who did a piece in the pitch black of a stage without light.  At first I, and probably everyone, thought the lighting people had made a mistake when music began and no light illuminated the players.  I worried that they had the beginning memorized but would have to wind down as the seconds passed and still no light appeared.  Eventually it became obvious this had been planned to be presented without light.  Still I couldn’t relax, worried that somehow this was not right! But before it ended I realized what a gift it was to listen to music in the dark with no distractions from sight.

This past weekend I had the opportunity to go back to Ann Arbor and listen to the Ann Arbor Symphony play.  It was the tenth anniversary of the symphony’s maestro and a celebration  of Mozart.  I learn something each time I attend an Ann Arbor Symphony performance.  I learned this week that Mozart wrote music for smaller numbers of musicians, so on this evening the symphony was much smaller, more intimate.  As usual they played wonderfully, from the first piece, Divertimento No. 1 for Strings in D Major, which was written when Mozart was sixteen to the third and last piece written, but not completed by Mozart because he died before it was finished, Requiem in D minor.

I have to say I enjoyed the first piece the most; it was light and airy and fun and I could envision a young Mozart throwing it together as a kid, proving his genius.  I also enjoyed the second movement of the second piece, Horn Concerto No. 3 in E-flat Major, a piece Mozart wrote for a friend who played French Horn.  The second movement is so melodic, and was done beautifully by the guest soloist Andrew Pelletier.   I was not looking forward to the Requiem, it’s not my favorite piece.  But I have to say I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the choir assembled for the performance.  Three choirs, all from high schools sang together.   I counted over 130 members and the sound just soared in the acoustically perfect Hill Auditorium.  The kids were amazing and the packed 5,000 seat auditorium was transfixed.

Two events filled with talent.  You have to have hope for the future when you are priviledged  to listen to such beauty.