Thursday, October 1, 2009

For your autumnal studies

Falling leaves, cold precipitation, and grey skies; these make for a good autumn. And what can be better for a cold snap than something to warm your mind and spirit? I have said before and will state again; the Russians really know how to enjoy a good winter. Perhaps it is the Thoreau I'm reading that brings out the bucolic musings, but they are magnified by reading the Russian Romantics. And that is my advice to you when things get chilly.

Reading list: I have a great love of Anton Chekhov, but am now finding Turgenev to be near equal in greatness. His writing is quintessentially Romantic. We find a love of Western intellectuals coupled with a quixotic pastoralism - in contrast to the industrial revolution I should note - and a wistful longing for the atavism to an ancient lost time (one that surely never really was), and almost a reverence for the hinterland.

Listening mix: Tchaikovsky, naturally. Sure, there are other Russians, but none so good in winter. Blasphemy? Not Myaskovsky or Shostakovich? Surely I write in madness induced by cheap brandy! No sir, Tchaikovsky exemplifies the Russian soul. He is the archetypical romantic. And his love for winter is prevalent in his symphonies (Little Russian, 4th, 5th, and 6th).

Drinking mix: I haven't made any punch yet, but nothing warms the soul quite like hot cider and brandy. Get it while the cider is still in season, kids. Whiskey and water can wait; the cider mill is open for scarcely a few weeks. Also, in lieu of a samovar I have a thermal carafe filled with black tea. But more on that later I suppose.


The buds of spring end up the detritus of fall...


Autumn inexorably gives way to winter


Winter is a wonderland of lights in a time of darkness. The worst we can do is forget this in January and February, two very long months fast approaching.