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Thursday, 15 January 2009

Weather and Virtue

I remember seeing an animated short many years ago, of an episode from Woolf's Orlando long before I had heard of the actual book from which it was taken, about a wintry winter colder than all other winters, and it feels as if i am living through that now.
(I wondered at the time, and again years later when I read the book, and again when I saw the beyond-marvelous Tilda Swinton in the movie, was that real? was there one year in Bloody Elizabeth's reign that was cold beyond previous imagining? I digress...)

December was heinous and January has been worse.
Quite aside from the fact that I, the-cheapest-person-who-ever-lived have not quite recovered from opening the envelope holding my heating bill, I have been forced to do something I have never done before --
In the entire more than 7 years on this job, I have never canceled a choir rehearsal unless I had to be out of town; never for illness, never for other commitments, (even dress rehearsals, I bumped choir a bit earlier, or arrived late to the theater, or changed, with the choirs permission and vote as to the day, dates,) or weather.
My reasoning was, even in a blizzard or hurricane I could walk there, and if anyone else was willing to make the effort, by God, I would be there to rehearse them.

This is not to say I haven't cut rehearsals short, and hour fifteen instead of 2 hrs, because I just ran out of voice, but I've even rehearsed them with complete laryngitis, Himself proclaiming instructions as I wrote or mimed them.

It was a point of -- sinful -- pride, I never failed to live up to my commitments on this job as saw them, I have never taken a sick day, never missed a Mass, not for surgery, not for shingles, not for a minor broken bone.

But I have just sat here over a bowl of Smoking Bishop... oh, all right, it's really a bowl of cafe au lait, poetic license inspired by Scrooge-apalooza... and called all my choir members, even those who have not made an appearance since Christmass, to tell them there will be no rehearsal tonight.

I just couldn't see letting those few who do feel a real sense of commitment go out in 7 below with a wind chill hovering at about minus 24. (And it would be worse by the time even a sparsely attended rehearsal was over.)

It feels kind of shameful. (And you thought I had no shame!)
I'm not sure why, I am a naturally lazy person.

But extremes of weather often seem to inspire a certain relaxation of virtue, or a virtue.
Sloth seems a greater danger now than Lust, for instance, and sexual promiscuity during the "Long, Hot Summer" is a cliche.
It's as if the weather not just explains transgressions, it excuses them,(see, Wide Sargasso Sea, can't remember if the book had the same feeling.)
I loved "snow days" when I was in school, but did I ever take advantage of them? try to get ahead on some school project? do something useful?
Course not! when I was young and stupid I went out in the snow, when I was teen-age and stupid I slept and avoided my Mother so as not to be assigned something, when I was a young adult and conflicted and waffling about where my life was going I ate and read...

And today? am I working on the score to my pirates project, am I making out my music schedules and programs for the weekend, am I arranging the choir psalm as I would have been, had we rehearsal tonight?

Judging from the fact that I am blogging, it seems not.

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