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A happy day. Not the first, and not the last …


We woke to a sky and a street full of swirling snow, and for most of the daylight hours were treated to this transformed airscape and concomitant transformed landscape. Living on the 4th floor is wonderful! The feeling of being closer to the sky than the road gives a sense of space and lightness, as well as light, that enhances this unfamiliar experience of city living no end. So our front windows look out onto the buildings opposite but with a generous road width to give stage to the snowfall’s antics (the weather people called it a “bomb cyclone” because of the extreme plummet of pressure, but neither word feels quite right to me! It was a dance of delicate snowflakes that I was watching in the street). Left of the house the view extends over some of the lower rooftops up and away into a distant skyline, so it is not in the least an enclosed vista.

The apartment is not toasty warm – there is such a lot of heat loss through the skylight I suppose – but it is warm enough if I wear lots of layers, and I would not swap the high ceilings and airy brightness for a couple of degrees of increased temperature on any cold day.

Having slept late (again – what a lovely lazy week) we ate a late breakfast before layering up and going out into the bright breezy chill to get a face full of snow and lungs full of freshness, in order to walk the mile to St Barts on 51st Street for a lunchtime concert. The streets were full of whiteness still, with only the first few cautious vehicles moving about, but busy enough with pedestrians and men pushing shovels or spreading salt. Walking is harder work with slippery pavements but quite doable; probably my legs will get their own back tomorrow when they stiffen up.

Alkemie’s music was great fun and really well performed. A brief hour of medieval song and instrumental music by five rising musicians, with all the edgy harmonic and rhythmic pleasure that early music revels in, not yet girdled by the strictures that baroque and classical composition introduced. There is in some of the music something ethereal about its movements that forces a different and satisfying way of listening, more fluid, less predictable. Freeing. Hildegard von Bingen, for example, 13th century Christian mystic, wrote 3 part unaccompanied songs for women’s voices: the three sopranos span and wove with their voices to create a gold-shimmering fabric. The warmth of tone of early instruments is immensely pleasing, easy on the ear, comforting to the soul; the accompaniment by viel (an early viola?), harp, recorder, and percussion added to the bubbling life of it all.

I would like to explore this sort of music more; it offers something that feels to me natural and simple and beautiful, and it attracts me. My education taught me that this stuff got left behind by the superiority of classical developments, but that is a bullying travesty! I heard haunting modes, tinges of celtic and flavours of jazz in the mix; give us all you have got, I say!

We sat in a café and drank soup, and caught up on admin using the free wifi. The snow ploughs were out in force by this stage, and the roads busier by the hour. (Impressive efficiency: watch and learn, Britain!). I walked another half hour uptown, back to the old apartment to drop a couple of things off, say goodbye to Michael the ‘super’ (live-in janitor) and pick up the last bits of mail; then took the metro home. En route I bought a juicy sweet Golden Delicious (it was not quite golden but quite delicious); just what I needed.

Once home I cooked a super meal – though I says it myself as shouldn’t: artichoke with mayo spicy dip for starter, and pepper tofu stirfry on purple yams for mains.

To bed, tired and contented. Thanks be.


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