Monday, August 13, 2007
Four Years Old
Harvest season has begun here at Fritz’s. The blueberries have gone by but the raspberries are just beginning and, if they keep producing at the pace of previous years, we’ll be picking them until the first killing frost. We’re getting a few pears, and apples will come a bit later. Right now, however, peaches are at their height and are absolutely delicious. Fritz has one old peach tree and a “new” four year old one that’s bearing heavily this year for the first time.
Years ago he told me that peach trees are self-destructive. They bear much more fruit than their long, slender branches can possibly support. The result is that the branches break under the stress of the load. The old tree is down to a gnarled trunk and only one long branch left, reaching way out to the sunlight, this in spite of Fritz propping up its many branches over the years with lumber or fallen branches from other trees.
When the young tree showed distinct signs of impossibly heavy bearing this year, we very reluctantly thinned out the crop (we both love peaches--they’re my favorite fruit of all). We supported the longest branches with sapling trunks that came from clearing out the new house site, but it was all in vain. Two branches snapped and one can be seen hanging straight down in one of the photos. The other shows the thickness of the crop, and these pictures were taken after the thinning and after a fair number had dropped or been picked.
Our peaches will go into pancakes, get preserved, be made into sorbet, be frozen—and be eaten in large numbers fresh off the tree that gives us so much by being careless of its own welfare.
Saturday night we drove down to Cambridge, ate a good Indian dinner in Central Square, and then parked in back of a building with which I’m familiar to say the least, the Kresge Auditorium at MIT.
The MIT Summer Philharmonic Orchestra, now in its fourteenth year, was founded by a former student who double majored in one of the sciences and music. His idea was to provide students, alumni, and members of the MIT community involved in music with a major performance opportunity during the months when the Music Program is shut down. This summer’s concert featured a single work, Anton Bruckner’s hour and a quarter long Sixth Symphony. We were there because one of “our boys,” K, was playing in the viola section.
Bruckner’s an acquired taste, one of those likings that develop in fits and starts until finally the penny drops which, when it did for me, it did big time. I think of Bruckner as a great test for conductors. He wrote big, complex works. Keeping his huge rhythmically challenging structures up in the air successfully is a big accomplishment. His orchestrations are interesting for the late Romantic era—a massive group of strings, a lot of heavy brass (horns and trombones in particular) but none of the newer hybrid brass instruments that were being introduced at the time), very little timpani, and no other percussion of any kind.
Bruckner’s scherzos are highly individual and my favorite part of his work. There’s a manic energy about them, partly achieved by repetition of short, almost brutally rhythmic sections that build and build in volume and intensity until the movements come to abrupt and sudden ends. Although Bruckner’s music sounds nothing like Stravinsky’s, the work of both composers depends to an inordinate degree on the strength and precision of rhythm.
The orchestra played extremely well. From where we sat we could just see K toward the rear of the viola section. Besides being a truly lovely person, K is one of the most strikingly beautiful men you could ever hope to meet. Good friends of ours, another gay couple, had also come because K was playing and sat directly behind us; when the symphony ended, we all met him out in the lobby with kisses and hugs. Two other men joined our little group, and K fairly glowed, surrounded by six gentlemen admirers, and in the aftermath of a successful performance of a demanding, exciting work.
Trying to get better about keeping up on my daily blog reads.
Congrats, have a tall one on me :)