Saturday, October 19, 2019

The Saturday snapshot: Leaves and snow.

     "Winter arrives abruptly in the Northwoods," regular reader Tony Galati wrote last week. "Thursday it was 67° up here. When I drove up Saturday, it was snowing."
     I wouldn't know—I usually go to the Northlands in September, to visit my buddy Rick's place in the UP, though looking at Tony's photos, taken around his cabin in Oneida County, Wisconsin, it made me consider, not for the first time, relocating in that vicinity permanently. I'd have to give up my job, of course, but I'm approaching that point, now still a spot on the horizon. A buck goes a long way up there.
     "It's 36 degrees," Tony writes. "Got a fire going, feet up, and an easy to read book. Retirement is a good thing."
     No doubt. In Canto 27, Dante has Guido da Montefeltro recount that, when he gave the false advice that consigned him to hell, he had come to that part of life when it is time to calar le vele e raccoglier le sarte — “lower the sails and coil the rope.”
    Sounds nice.
    "What a beautiful metaphor!" agrees 14th century Bolognese scholar Benvenuto da Imola, in his early commentary on The Inferno. "The mariner, who has been on a long voyage, must steer for a safe harbor where me may find rest."
    He's talking about eternal salvation, not Lake Superior. And that isn't the only view on the subject of how a man should grapple with age. There is of course Yeats, who cuts the other way. 

    "An aged man is but a paltry thing," he writes. "A tattered coat upon a stick, unless/
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing."

    That sounds more my style. Clap hands as long as you can. Besides, I need the money.
     That is perhaps too weighty a reflection to hang on the delicate beauty of these photos. Plus I quoted those lines of Dante's in late August; repeating myself, another ominous sign. But these leaves should be the focus today. The words are just little black decorations to go beside them. Thanks Tony for sending these gorgeous pictures. 


  1. Lowering the sail and coiling the rope sounds like giving up. Like a recipe for rapid demise.
    Agreed, clapping is a better course if you want happiness.
    Not sure who penned this line (although Elvis is often given credit), “To be happy you have to have have something to do, someone to love, and something to look forward to.”
    For many retirees, that’s not happening.
    P.S. Great pics

    1. Before I retired, I couldn't imagine myself being retired. Then, without much forethought, I found myself suddenly retired. Surprisingly, it didn't take long to find the groove necessary for happiness. I don't want to bore anyone, so I'll offer just one tip: turn off the goddamn television!

    2. Television is OK in the dead of winter, when it's dark and cold and blustery and there's snow up to your wazoo, but the rest of the year, it's just another addictive drug that kills time and rots brain cells. So is the internet. When fellow geezers in Cleveland say they're bored and there's nothing to do, I tell them they aren't trying hard enough...and that for starters, they need to put down the mouse and get out of the goddamn house. Volunteering and giving back to one's community can work wonders. My wife tutors folks who are studying for their GEDs, and five years at Habitat for Humanity has changed my whole outlook on retired life.

      Mr. S. I know you're familiar with Boulder. So am I...lived there in the early 70s. They get a lot of snow in the early fall (we once got two feet on the day of the fall equinox), but it melts quickly. Occasionally it stays chilly long enough for the red and orange and yellow leaves to cover the remaining snow on the ground. I shot some stunning photos on a beautiful divided residential street north and west of downtown, Mapleton Ave. Large old houses and huge trees on both sides, with still more trees in the middle, on what Chicagoans call a median strip or a parkway, and what the New Orleans folks call a "neutal ground" (how mellifluous and pleasing to the ear).

      Until my time in Colorado, I had never before seen bright autumn foliage on snow. Wish I still had those images from that storm in October of '71.

    3. OOPS...make that a "neutral ground"--sorry...

  2. I was in Door County last week. Fierce winds and driving rain, but the foliage was glorious.

    "In the fall of the leaf that is a man's life, nothing can make him happy but congenial work to do. Or the reflection that congenial work has been done." Anthony Trollope.



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