Thursday, 10 February 2011

The forty days between New Year's Day and my Birthday are a desert as far as gigs are concerned. With Christmas gone, generally miserable cold and cloudy weather, and I between the passing of a calendar year and the counting of my own, I allow myself to be a bit more reflective in this time - my own personal and secular Lent. Despite these days inevitably beginning with a bit of hangover, there's no fasting involved (as a certain jovial roundness in my belly will attest to), but I do take time to think of what kind of person I'd like to be when I'm a year older, and to ponder over issues philosophical and otherwise. Then my birthday comes at the coldest and bleakest time of all, and with a tip of a hat to the Ordre de Bon Temps of the early French Canadians, I celebrate with friends, music and good food, checking baggage at the door and looking forward to focusing for the rest of the year on more concrete things such as my career.

I have yet to decide if the utility of observing this Lent lies in the great mirage of accumulated wisdom that I'm left with, or in the been-there-done-that feeling which leaves me very fond of my birthday indeed (already a good thing) and with a sense that it's exactly the perfect time to, well, get on with things.

So, I'm 31 now, and slightly disoriented. It felt far too warm and sunny this week to possibly be my birthday so the usual philosophical routine was interrupted by an unshakable joie de vivre. Worse things to complain about I suppose. The Föhn winds (see last post!) have been waning only gently, and it's hard to believe that we may get more winter before spring finally comes. The crocuses are up, the mini-daisies you see in the grass too, and of course snowdrops. Will I get to use my cross-country skis at all this winter? At this point it's ok if not...(or if I have to head for a high Alpine valley to do so!)

Here are a few pictures documenting Sunday's Beer-Rhine-Sunset:

See Moon Top Right

Dark at Seven

On Tuesday the Egger workshop was full of people - all the part time workers were there, all machines in use, and no one needed anything to be done, so I clocked out and called up Josué and we hopped on the bus to St. Chrischona, where there is an excellent view of Basel, and when it's not as hazy at it was, all the way to the Alps.

Behind the 1509 church (you can climb right up the tower), there are forests and fields - somewhere in there the border between Basel and Germany too.

Josué climbing a hill

Sunset through trees

When we got back to civilization, we saw a modern-day shepherd, driving through the park on a scooter, followed by a herd of sheep trotting along and ringing their bells.

Modern-Day Sheep Herding

Having wound up on the wrong side of the hill to watch the sunset, we nipped over to the other side just in time. The haze which had obscured the view of the Alps the hour before was now responsible for a very fine palette of colours:

We headed back into Riehen - a northern suburb of Basel, stumbling upon a little whisky shop which is barely ever open but as luck would have it was closing in six minutes. So we nipped in and got a 50mL taster bottle of BenRiach 20-year old - wow! Heather and Honey rounded out by sweet pears. Back in Speyside in a few weeks, I think I shall have to explore...

Church Tower at Dusk, Riehen

My birthday evening was simple and very lovely - Alex made some Charbonnade with a marsala cream sauce, then people came round and we sat about my living room eating Silke's excellent chocolate cake.

The next morning, Helen (who had stayed over since she lives in Freiburg) and I had breakfast, and I got the distinct feeling that every time I looked, the daffodils had made one more step to opening. Shortly after breakfast was done, sure enough there was a bloom. Now there are five.

Breakfast, Daffodils, Herb Garden

Since then, I've been recovering from the intense socializing of the last week, but I couldn't resist when I was invited upstairs for a very silly supper of eggs and toast (incidentally the same as breakfast yesterday too). But these were goose eggs from the farmer's market in France and we had to eat them out of espresso cups, to Sophia's supreme delight. She ate a whole one.

Now it's Saturday morning and I've just finished my coffee - perfect timing. Off to play in the Bach Cantatas later, playing the chorale tune on trombone in the first movement and slide trumpet in the last. Not many notes, but after being sent some live recordings of Bach for my birthday, I'm happy to get my fix of being inside the music myself!

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