Saturday, April 25, 2015


After 15 years of lessons as a girl, ballet has always remained close to my heart.  The best way to enjoy ballet is to see it performed live in a theater - nothing quite matches it because ballet requires an audience to give it life.  The excitement before the rise of the curtain along with the breathtaking moment when the lights dim and the stage suddenly opens to pure fantasy, creates vital energy for the dance.  When my craving could not be satisfied with live ballet anywhere nearby, a friend and I slipped into a local cinema after work that was telecasting a performance of the Russian Bolshoi Ballet's Ivan the Terrible.

The cinema was dark, hushed and cool.  Fortunately, I thought to bring my work bag pashmina and as I draped it about my shoulders, I nestled in with a weary sigh to watch the screen.  Not exactly a romantic ballet, Ivan the Terrible was exquisitely danced with the enduring magic I was longing for.  The choreography was a mosaic of complexities in perfect harmony with the music.  The arabesques and pirouettes were stylized...precise, but also bewitching and graceful.  The story was interpreted beautifully - it was deliciously brooding but not at all depressing and I soon became lost and swept away for two blissful hours.

I am incredibly busy right now.  This past week I hosted an open house at my new job.  Part of my role is ambassadress of my boss' brand.  It was a great success but required lots of fancy footwork and coordination as well.  And connections, including the mayor's office and the newspapers.  In a way, I cut my teeth because I haven't entertained in a big way for a very long time.  Now I am off to orchestrate a bridal shower for my daughter and of course the penultimate party of all - her wedding in July.  My calendar is filled with appointments, calls to make, and errands - so many errands.  Every time I cross something off my list, 3 more tasks magically appear.  It has been happily challenging...and stressful.

Still, in the midst of all the joyous chaos to come, I will don an air of quiet grace and understated elegance, and my intention is to perfect a flawless arabesque of my own.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Spring's Blithe Spirit

Pussy willows are such a welcome harbinger of spring.  Soft as kittens' ears but built on sturdy stalks, they are the essence of the season's changeableness.  They used to be plentiful when I was a girl but now I only see them in the shops.  My mother loved when we brought them home in our arms as this young lass is doing.  I remember them in tall vases on the hi-fi console and beside one of the two fireplaces.  They still remind me her because she exclaimed over them so.

Each season seems to have its rituals and one of mine is clearing out my closet or "turning" it, as in putting my winter sweaters and boots to bed and replacing them with my lighter wardrobe.  This year I can't gauge the right time for the task - it's still cold yet I'm aching to wear my favorite spring things:  an ivory waffle-piqué coat with a butter yellow lining and pink piping, a deep coral cotton sweater, and a graphic cool taupe skirt with jaunty dots of gold and rose.  I've never been adept at transition dressing so the simple strategy that works for me is to wear some woolen things in sunny-side- up colors for both warmth and cheer.  But research for my weekly style column finds me pouring over pretty images of clothes with a carefree blithe spirit that includes floaty blouses with blouson sleeves and romantic cuffs with buttons, and winsome dresses in sherbet colors.  There is a fanciful weightlessness to fashion this spring, as if we are to be extra kissed for our extra winter.

Our model is lovely in her grey striped suit and feminine bow blouse.  She is ready for spring's hide and seek as noted by the pale blue gloves on her hands.  But the real foretell of the season rests in her arms - delicate yet hardy masses of spring's blithe spirit.  And in my mother's joyful noise.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

April, Come She Will

A dear friend sent me the most beautiful CD of clear lilting music.  She listens to it during facials and bought two copies, one for me.  Track two is particularly lovely - it's music I imagine as the backdrop to some of my favorite April films.  I hear it echo as I think of Maud Baily in Possession weeping on the floor near her running bath after realizing that her life has been nothing if not loveless.  It plays again as Beth Goodwin in See You in the Morning stands riveted beside the piano of her dead husband.  It is the eve of her second marriage and she relives in detail, her first.  Each heartrending strain arouses my sympathy for her enduring devotion to the man who abandoned her by suicide.  I hear it again as Linda Radlett travels alone by train from Italy to France where she is leaving Christian in a flood of tears only to meet Fabrice, the soon-to-be love of her life in Love in a Cold Climate.  These women are the exemplar heroines of my favorite April movies and my new CD has me thinking of them in the car on my way to work these early spring days.

Until Mary Haynes in The Women (1939) decides to reunite with her estranged husband Stephen, her face is suffused with a sorrow that no number of diamond bracelets on her graceful wrist can erase. The delicate flute on Track 3 nearly has mist gathering in my eyes when I think of Mary's ache as she gently tells her child about Daddy's disappearance.  And the same flute pipes poignantly as friends gather near for the spring brunch she bravely hosts amidst her secret pain.

When Lottie Wilkins and Rose Arbuthnot in Enchanted April step forth into the Italian countryside after their rainy English winter, my heart sighs along with theirs.  Track 6 plays on as I almost smell the hibiscus and bougainvillea that embrace them along with the reaching arms of the sun.  But it is solitary Caroline Dester I root for in the end as she changes the most - just as the winds and husbands blow in, she transforms from femme-fatale to generous friend.  And love finds her yet.

All my April heroines have things in common besides being exquisitely fashionable:  they are determined, hardy survivors who come back to life in spring.  They suffer and lose and then create new worlds to inhabit and flourish in. Just as the earth renews itself alongside them.  The very spindles that prick their dainty fingers have the power to take them out...but it only serves to make them stronger.  

Track 10's triumphant chords are perfect for the final scenes when we discover that new beginnings often don't come at the beginning at all...sometimes, they come at last.  In April.

CD:  The Silent Path ~ Robert Haig Coxon (Thank you Kay!)