We got back last night from a several-day visit with my father in central New York, in celebration of his 89th birthday. It was a really good visit: we arrived on Thursday and had a lovely meal with him and his grilfriend, made an informal dinner party for close family and friends on Friday evening, went out to dinner with some of his other friends on Saturday, and drove back to Montreal yesterday -- with, of course, a lot of other visiting inbetween. It was great to see him doing so well after his October hip surgery, and lovely to have some time to stay at the lake house and enjoy the snow and the quiet. As I've written before, the agricultural landscape "back home" is deeply imprinted in my memory; it's beautiful in all seasons and I really like the graphic quality of the fields and hedgerows and woods when the land is covered with snow. We saw a lot of deer, a lot of hawks, a lot of crows, and many flocks of geese, including some snow geese.
It wasn't an easy drive back yesterday; although the main lane was clear on both the Thruway and the Northway, it was slippery and snowy every time we had to cross into the other lane, and salt and wet road grime were constantly being thrown up onto the windshield. As soon as we crossed into Canada, where the use of salt is much reduced, the roads were very snowy, but that was ok - the visibility was actually better and the windshield stayed clear even though we had to drive more slowly.
We arrived about 4:30, unpacked, had a quick dinner of some leftovers we'd brought with us, and I had to leave for an evening dress rehearsalf or tonight's Messiah performance with the McGill Chamber Orchestra. That was pretty exhausting, vocally and physically, and today, after a restless night, I'm hoping to take an afternoon nap so that I feel a bit better for tonight's marathon. The acoustics are better in the cathedral if the choir is out from under the arch behind the chancel steps, so a decision was made this year not to use risers. That means we'll be standing throughout the entire oratorio -- and I'm not looking forward to that! But the concert is sold out, and it's always a happy event, with fine soloists - including the counter-tenor Daniel Taylor and bass Alexander Dobson - and a spirited beginning to the center of the holiday season. The Canadian soprano soloist, Jana Miller, will be making her Carnegie Hall debut, also in the Messiah, on December 18th.
Our big work projects are done, and I'm looking forward to some time now to do some art and some baking, and enjoy being with friends, in and around the musical events of the coming week. I hope the end-of-the-year frenzy is winding down for you, too, if indeed that's the way it is in your life.