Monday, December 13, 2010

Faintly falling, falling faintly

It's hard not to believe one is living on an entirely different planet when I open my door to a blue sky, blazing sun and eighty degrees this December afternoon. My son called me into the living room before he left for school to show me footage of the sports dome in Minnesota caving in from the recent obliterating snowstorm. Many of the blogs I visit and read have photos of trees encased in ice, children bundled up in boots with rosy cheeks and pots of chunky soups simmering on stoves. My son Oliver's cheeks are rosy, too, but mainly because he played a quarter-final soccer game this weekend in downtown Los Angeles where the temperature probably spiked at 85 degrees. Yesterday, we finished decorating our Christmas tree, not beside a crackling fire but with the door wide open because The Husband and I are not going to turn on the air-conditioner in mid-December, damnnit! I am not too bothered by the lack of holiday appropriate weather because I actually despise snow and cold weather. And while it's a bit irritating to still be wearing a tee-shirt with no sweater when you're out and about, getting ready for the two-week Christmas vacation, I comfort myself with one of my favorite passages in Irish literature.

A few light taps upon the pane made him turn to the window. It had begun to snow again. He watched sleepily the flakes, silver and dark, falling obliquely against the lamplight. The time had come for him to set out on his journey westward. Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, on the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling, too, upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.

--  from James Joyce's The Dead

You can watch a clip from John Huston's equally mesmerizing movie by clicking HERE (embedding the video is blocked). I highly recommend watching the whole four minutes or so, particularly the end.


  1. Elizabeth, I'm smiling. Some folks might take talk of 80's in December as bragging...

    One of the things I love about reading you is that I learn. That paragraph from Joyce was sublime. Thank you.

  2. I'm with Kathleen- you are always teaching me.
    And no, it is not snowing here but damn, it's cold enough to. And this is FLORIDA!

  3. I've never read James Joyce but think now perhaps I will. And the snow, yes we have snow here, more to come in the next couple of days. It's just part of life here though. It was warm today, only -4C.

  4. LOVE this movie. One of my all time favorites.

    I do so envy you the weather!

  5. I will watch this movie during the holidays.

    thank you.

  6. I just went backward to catch up. Read your mask post.

    Damn! I can feel how difficult it would be to wear it--to be marked and silenced. I'd feel so self-conscious I wouldn't speak even if I could.

    Talk about a one-size-fits-all policy. They'll lose your valuable insight and experience and you'll lose the outbound view and the exchange. Lose-lose.

    You've sounded stretched these last months, it makes sense that you may have a modicum of relief in dropping the program. But I wish it was purely a matter of choice, not an issue of comfortable participation.

    And the organizers need to get their shit together in notifying participants of requirements.

  7. Sometimes I complain about the cold here in the Bay Area to my ex-boyfriend while we're on the phone. He calls me late at night here while he walks through the woods on his way to work in Southern Germany... trudging through the morning snow.

  8. It is 7:29AM in Chicago. I just checked the current temps online. 7.

    I cannot fathom what an additional 80 degrees would feel like at the moment.

    But then again, when it's this cold, your sense of touch is numb anyway. So I don't feel 7 either!


  9. I, too, am catching up after a few days of mostly non-blogging. Your posts on your decisions about the mask were written in your usual intelligent and thought-provoking manner on this subject. I hope it makes them think. At least a little. And I'm glad that you are looking at whatever happens as okay, even good, either way. Your friend's comment about masks and living with a disability was also very insightful. All, as I said, thoughtful reading.

    As for snow - we don't have any, but we have 29 degree temps and plants all covered and space heaters and coats and boots enough to warrant some snow! And we live several hours south of Ms. Moon's territory!

    The James Joyce was lovely...

  10. I miss wearing just a t-shirt. This time of year I have so many layers, my elbows are hard to move.

    I wonder what Joyce would say about relentless rain - like say about 20 straight days .....

  11. Even here in Portland it was so warm yesterday I walked in the morning with just a T-shirt! Weird!

  12. I miss the sunshine, but I do love having semi-seasonal weather. Thanks for sharing a bit of your sunshine with us.



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