Wondering what a moose has in common with Marc Chagall? In the past month or so these were a couple of highlights in my little world, that never made it to the blog-o-sphere due to the now intermittent pace of my posts. In January of 2011 at this time I had not missed a day of blogging for a total of 21 posts while this will be my second post of the year.
St. Albert, a suburb of Edmonton, Alberta, enjoyed a spell of warmish winter weather during my four day visit in December. The path along the Sturgeon river was runnable and in many ways much more pleasant than my summer runs (see Running with the Mosquitoes) where at times one must concentrate on keeping your mouth closed to avoid getting a mouthful of insects. I did a stretch of the Sturgeon river path, hitherto unexplored and was rewarded by the sight of an icon of the prairie landscape, a grain elevator, something I’ve grown to to love.
A short stretch through an older section of St. Albert led me to a winding road flanked by parkland. About 150 feet ahead, I noticed a large creature, with an awkward loping stride crossing the road. Was it a horse? NO, it was a moose. I grabbed my BlackBerry and whilst fumbling with cold hands, missed capturing the moment. My dismay at missing this photo opportunity changed to concern that the moose might decide to trot my way. I reversed direction and found myself looking over my shoulder regularly, just in case.
This was the second moose sighting of my life, the first a couple of years ago, sighted just off the highway while driving near Parry Sound. I wonder how many Canadians have actually seen a moose in the wild? I learned that this is fairly common in Alberta although my 95 year old father-in-law a resident of St. Albert for over 45 years has never seen one. I discovered that I my sighting took place about three miles from Big Lake where many a moose and other creatures are to be found.
As for Chagall, due to the disappointment of missing a trip to an art gallery while in NYC to run the marathon with my sister as support crew, we did a tourist day in Toronto. Our first stop was the AGO for the Chagall exhibit. Featured alongside Chagall were his Russian avant-garde contemporaries. The most striking contribution from this group was the film, Man With a Movie Camera by Dziga Vertov a film which as a film aficionado in the early-eighties, I viewed in a tiny room of the U of T film library housed in the basement of Sigmund Samuels library. The film released in 1929 is notable for it’s unabashed experimentation with this new art form and was projected onto a very large screen in a prominent area of the exhibition. Bravo AGO, you are doing a great job of making our gallery a world-class venue.
In 1981 during a three month solo tour of Europe I visited the Chagall Museum in Nice, France and more than half a lifetime ago, made this entry in my travel journal.
Saturday, February 21, 1981
. . . the Chagall Museum and there was a small chapel in which a girl was practicing on a harpsichord painted by Chagall, if there was one moment which I might say was THE moment I was looking for here in Europe I would probably choose that one.
While the number of Chagall paintings and drawings in the AGO exhibit was limited, the selection of 32 works was quite satisfying to this Chagall lover. I signed up for an AGO membership and I returned in late-December with my husband for another visit.
Paintings done by Chagall of his hometown Vitebsk (Belarus, then part of the Russian Empire) are testimony to the power of art to elevate the ordinary into the extraordinary. In December I had an invitation to experience an extraordinary marathon in Russia. To begin with my friend was looking for some who would help provide the appropriate reading glasses to the Buryat people. The training for this is very simple and is done by Agape. At the end of the mission I was invited to participate in the 8th Annual International Baikal Ice Running Marathon. This marathon is run on a frozen lake with the route mapped out by satellite in order to insure safe ice running. Due to my volunteer commitments this year I declined but for my friend this will be his very first marathon attempt. Imagine that!