Monday, April 4, 2011
Hands (Music, Friendship) Around the World
Well, I think it's safe to say Spring has arrived even though days are still a bit chilly for me, but there is SUNSHINE and some fresh new green popping out everywhere. Yesterday I had the good fortune to be invited to a garden gratar (cook out). My friend Felicia, a high school English and French teacher in Oradea, invited me to join her and her husband and assorted long-time friends at their summer cottage in the hills overlooking the city. The cottage and garden have been in her family for generations--through communist requisition and restoration--and is surrounded by similar holdings though newcomers are erecting some two-story large homes that she and her friends regret. There is still a rural feel to the area and yesterday, the first visit of the season, everyone seemed to be in a holiday spirit. Food and drink (as at all Romanian gatherings) were abundant. The husband of one of Felicia's best friends was the chef and presided over the grill with impressive--and jovial--mastery. A couple from Italy also joined us and we were quite the international group--talk sliding from Romanian to English to Italian. Most spoke English--lucky for me (though I'm understanding a little more of what I hear now) and another English teacher whom I had met last week at the speech contest joined us, to my delight. Between courses (yes, courses!) the women took a walk while the men cooked and we visited another gathering of long-time friends at a neighboring cottage. I call a day a golden success when I've spent hours in the sunshine, had my hand kissed numerous times, been cooked for and presented flowers. It was definitely a "Life is Good" kind of day. I noted to my friend and she agreed that Romanians--even those who live in the city as she and her husband do--seem to maintain a connection to the soil. Everywhere I see garden work beginning, even if it's a tiny plot in the front yard. Spring means delving into the soil and planting something, an exercise of hope they've learned to count on. **** I must tell you about another international experience. Thursday night I went to the Oradea Symphony concert. I've mentioned them before--a wonderful group of musicians who perform weekly. I rarely can manage to get into the city on Thursday nights, but I was determined this time. The concert was the third and last of a collaboration with musicians (orchestral and choral) from Japan. It was fabulous! The very distinguished Japanese conductor spoke to the audience in English at the start of the program, asking for a moment of silence for those who were suffering in his country. It was very moving. The program was all Mozart and Handel and at one point during the "fragments" of the Messiah, I thought to myself how surreal to be sitting in a concert hall in Romania, listening to the music of a German composer, performed by Japanese and Romanian musicians and sung in English! The encore was the Hallelujah chorus. Indeed! ***** And I should also mention the "World Peace is in Our Hands" display that my students and I put together at school--everyone had a "hand" in it, so to speak (the feathers are fingers) and I was satisfied with the results, an attempt to prime their thinking as we design a peace mural for the school's entrance. Peace to you, dear readers, in this beautiful primavara.