Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Contextualizing







three different views
of the same fields,
the same horses,
in one week



Context is everything; context is all.
Is it the weather, the landscape, or both?  It's both, of course.

Today was my first "normal" day since December 13th.  But how do I define normal?
Normal is taking the kids to school, no snow on the roads, the morning at Jane Austen House, the afternoon at home tutoring, several loads of wash to do, gnocchi with tomato sauce for dinner, lots of emails to catch up with, a new book to begin, a blog to write.

The Christmas holidays, followed by the snow holidays, were threatening to permanently pre-empt my notions of normal life.  Can you still call it "normal" if it stops being your default context?  A week of Christmas snow is magical; a week of playing-hooky-from-real-life snow is fun; after that, it stops being a novelty and starts being tiresome.

My youngest daughter had precisely one day in school before I whisked her off to Copenhagen for a birthday (her 12th) Blog Camp.  For three days, 10 of us talked (and talked), and drank tea, and sewed, and art-journaled.  It was too intense to be normal.  Even though the sky was gray and the wind was bitter, there was a warm golden glow that can't be entirely explained by those Scandinavian wood-burning fires.

For the first time in years, I have a circle of friends who are younger than I am.  Isn't age one of the strangest, most bizarrely contextual states of mind and being?  During the Christmas holidays, I watched an Elvis retrospective and re-discovered that he was only 42 when he died.   How did  42 get to be such a shockingly young age to die?  When I was a child he seemed plenty old -- and so washed-up.  Although I'm fairly relaxed about being 43 (and one week old), I still can't help but think:  I am now older than Elvis.

We are expecting heavy snow tonight.  My oldest daughter has her Physics GCSE tomorrow.  If necessary, we will put on our ski clothes and walk miles through the snow to school.  It's getting to be our new normal.




30 comments:

blackbird said...

Happy Birthday, Bee!

Kelly H-Y said...

Happy Belated Bday ... I'm a Jan. bday too! :-) Those pictures are amazing ... hard to believe it's all within the span of one week. Good luck, tomorrow, with your new normal! :-)

steven said...

bee i missed your birthday so happy happy days of a year for you. i love the changes in the three photographs bee. these things happen so suddenly and then just as suddenly revert back to their "normal" state. have a lovely evening. steven

cynthia newberry martin said...

Nice to meet you and your blog. I followed you here from your comment on Sarah Laurence's blog.

I love the 3 different photos of the same place during a one-week period--beautiful, different, and all "the truth."

Belated birthday wishes!

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Well, a birthday! I send you my very best wishes! You may be one year older than Elvis was able to manage, but just think how much younger you are than Georgia O'Keefe!

willow said...

Happy Birthday, Bee!!! That second snowy pic is just stunning. Taken with your new camera?

David Cranmer said...

First, Happy Birthday!

I'm 39 and getting ready to make the leap. I'm looking at the widening crow's lines and trying to tell myself age ain't nothing. My goatee is greying but everyone says men can get away with it. Hmmm... I think they're fibbing. I remember in 1982, thinking the year 2000 was a long way off and now it's ten years behind. And I do remember 1977 and thinking Elvis was old.

Can I jump off this runaway train?

kristina said...

Happy Birthday! And I must admit I'd view snow as the perfect excuse for missing a physics exam...! K x

Crafty Green Poet said...

I'm 43 too! Yes age is weird like that, it all depends on the context as you say

Lovely photos, nice to have the different views...

julochka said...

it seems that snow is the new normal. i shoveled sidewalks yesterday and again today. i wish they'd just stay shoveled.

i have to say that today feels back to normal and i have a desire to shake things up. after blog camp, normal feels a bit pale...sigh.

ewix said...

Your photographs sing.
Is it the wonderful new camera?
43 seems astoundingly young from my antique perspective.....

Sarah Laurence said...

Happy Birthday, Bee!

I love how you got the same shot down to the horses in 3 conditions. Did you bribe them with sugar cubes? They are all beautiful shots, especially the middle one. The complementary colors of yellow and purple make it snap. In England the weather can even be a character in itself. I’m also curious if this is your new camera at work, is it?

Snow is a delight on vacation or over a long weekends but can get to be chore on work/school days. I had to dig a path to my real mailbox yesterday while my email got snowed in. The kids were late for the bus, but the bus was even later. Still, the snow is gorgeous. I loved taking my dog for a ski as a work break.

Blog Camp sounds fun and the perfect antidote to winter blues. Age doesn’t matter that much in cyberspace. I hope the GCSE’s went well.

So nice to see that Cynthia Newbury Martin connected with you. There are always so many familiar faces commenting here.

Polly said...

Such a nice post, and great photographs. This really was an intense weekend, I enjoyed it a lot and I hope we'll keep meeting for blog camps, lunches and such.

I gave up on using "normal" in reference to everyday. Even though my life is very regimented by work, every day is slightly different. "Normal" in context of "everyday" doesn't work!

Anne said...

Happy (one week belated) birthday!! I don't know how I missed it, but I did. Love the photos--I hope you and your new camera are getting along swimmingly.

Funny, isn't it, about the age of one's friends? With a few exceptions, I've always tended to have older friends. Not sure what that says about me, if anything.

Alyson (New England Living) said...

I love how your photos illustrate the context concept. Very clever!

It's true about context. It makes all the difference. I remember when I was a kid thinking in the future to the year 2000 and realizing I would be 23 when it happened. I thought that was really, really old. And, of course, 30 was absolutely ancient.

Tongue Trip said...

happy birthday to you, belated if im late. :)
i hope you didnt have to ski your way to the school.
it was a pleasure to read about how you have been spending some normal time with the family, doing things you like or the way you want to.
awesome photos, just like always.
cheers!

Fran Hill @ Being Miss said...

Love the three photos. And happy birthday. Know what you mean about 42 seeming young .............. now.

Bee said...

Thanks for all of the splendid birthday wishes! My birthday is always quickly swept aside for my daughter's (the 17th) and my husband's (the 27th).

For those of you with camera queries, I took the first picture (click on it to enlarge) with the Nikon and the second two with my Lumix. I was playing with flash all weekend, and there really is no substitute for the glories of natural light. It is rare for us to get the sort of clear, golden light that illuminates the second picture. Gray and fog are winter "normal."

BTW, it DID snow today; but the kids did go to school anyway.

mouse (aka kimy) said...

wonderful pics and all in a week


normal- what's with that

my motto has long been why be nomal?r

Nancy said...

We're expecting big snow tonight, as well. I know what you mean about age and death. I just realized last night that my father died at the same age my husband is now. (58) It gave a whole new context to age and death.

A Thousand Clapping Hands said...

Last night I was re-watching 'Sunset Boulevard'. Norma Desmond was only 50! I am now older than the character Norma Desmond. Geez. Kinda scary.

Catherine

A Thousand Clapping Hands said...

Ooops! A very, very Happy Birthday to you, Bee! Have lots of cake.

Catherine

Marcheline said...

I can totally relate to the age thing. My husband and I have become close friends with a couple who are tenants of ours. The other day we realized that we are old enough to be their parents.... bizarre.

Marcheline said...

And happy belated birthday!

julia said...

beautiful pictures...your normal sounds wonderful...

Fat, frumpy and fifty... said...

glad to follow your link round here...love your desk area...
great photography!!

saz x

Kristen In London said...

Oh dear, I wrote a comment and it disappeared. Just to say, I'll be 45 next month, the day after my grandmother turns 97. Eek!

Normal, for me lately, is ending up at the end of every day with all the things I held dear in the morning. I've been surrounded by unhappy losses, lately, in those near and dear to me, so I'm feeling a bit melancholy. Thank you for your post, which was both food for thought and just lovely.

Just a Plane Ride Away said...

Hartelijk gefeliciteerd met je verjaardag, Bee!

I know just how you feel. XOXO

Relyn said...

In one week? Oh my gosh!

And, oh what views!

Relyn said...

I can't believe I hit publish before wishing you a belated, but sincere happy, happy birthday! Bee, may your year be full of laughter and happy surprises. And, of course, great books.