Saturday, March 19, 2011

My dearest, checking in with you, with hugs and kisses. Back from the most delightful couple of hours at a reading and discussion of T.S. Eliot's Four Quartets at the international arts colony in my neighborhood. I had such a great time, I am just glowing. I have enjoyed every reading I've ever attended there, and this one was no exception - actually perhaps more enjoyable for me, because it was more dynamic, not just writers reading their work aloud, but lively, intelligent, good-humored discussion afterward. More on that perhaps tomorrow or at some later point, but right now, frankly, I'm savoring my memory of - finger foods! There was such a lovely spread, I am hereby taking notes, and I asked the chef her secrets for a couple of the hors d'oevres, which she cheerfully divulged. I think I may need to buy a packet of toothpicks, they are possibly key. So skewered on toothpicks were the most delectable morsels of chicken, which (as I was informed) had been dipped in a mixture of Hellman's, curry powder, and turmeric, and then rolled in crushed dry-roasted peanuts and (I guess) baked til done. Then there was a perfect wheel of creamy camembert, possibly the Old Chatham kind, served with not only table-water crackers that we all know, but the most savory, delicious seasoned dry cracker rounds. I don't know what they are offhand, but I'll bet they're readily available at neighborhood posh markets. Then there were little bowls of amazing "green" dip of cilantro, parsley - all herbs green, plus EVOO and minced garlic, and the chef offered that the secret ingredient actually is mango chutney (who would ever know). This was the dip to go with a lovely arrangement of vegetables for dipping, thin barely blanched asparagus spears, haricots verts, cherry tomatoes. Plus there were little cheesey puff pastry things. Divine, divine, divine. Plus of course, wine. Plus, in this lightfilled space, glass doors open to a vast welcoming landscape, the sense of the day enticingly ending. Plus when this building first appeared on the landscape - it's only a few years old, built since we moved here almost six years ago - I didn't like it at first, it seemed incongruous, reminding me of the JFK Saarinen terminal only set down in a pasture. But I have to say the building has grown on me, perhaps not so much from the exterior (though it bothers me less and less) but inside it is truly a very, very pleasant space. It's the arts colony's visitor center, so obviously gatherings, such as the one this afternoon, occur there, and it's just perfectly designed for such events. I don't know - I just appreciated, as I stood around with a wine glass in one hand and napkin with a delightful morsel in another, that the very structure of the building allowed me, at the perfect comfortable level, to set down my glass - I just thought that was brilliant design -

Plus, sandwiched in between the pre- and post-prandial delights, was the "four course" meal, the Quartets. I so enjoyed that. That gathering took place in an adjacent daylit, sparely furnished room. On the seats where we took our places were tiny printed chapbooks of the Eliot poem. The conceit of the evening was that three young poets would read excerpts from the poem, afterward offer their individual views, and then lead whatever discussion might result.

I so enjoyed the out-loud reading of the text part. I sat in my seat by myself off to the side, there were perhaps 25-30 others scattered in the audience about the room as well. The three young poets at the front of the room, and one from the audience besides, a young woman with a Slavic accent, read the first "movement" of each of the four major poems that comprise the "quartets." And it was just so peaceful and - I don't know, liturgical - to hear the readings, the cadences, the impassioned yet simple rhythmic readings - really - and it was about five o'clock, or a bit after - but it felt like a five o'clock mass. Well, T.S. Eliot did convert to Catholicism at some point in his life, and the poems are suffused with - well, I don't know if Catholicism, precisely (was J.S. Bach Catholic? that quality, circling, searching, eternal return, "the end is the beginning...")

Anyway. I just so appreciated and savored sitting there hearing the four beautiful individual voices reading aloud from the work. And from time to time as the light shifted in the room or I'd see movement outside the windows, a flock of dark birds flitting past in the screen of light - it was just beautiful.

I thought of you, and think you would have been at home there at that moment. We might have smiled at each other and touched hands...

Many kisses, darling, good night.

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