Sun worshippers

I always vow to get caught up with grading before Thanksgiving, so I can take a proper break over the holiday…and inevitably failing to do that, I always vow to get caught up with grading over Thanksgiving, so I can finish the remaining weeks of the semester in a calm, leisurely fashion.

Warm enough to write outside

Instead, I’m woefully behind with grading, with looming paper-piles from all six (!) of the classes I’m teaching. It felt great to take Thanksgiving day off from grading, teaching prep, and even the thought of teaching and grading: on Thursday it was sunny and mild, so J and I took a long walk in downtown Boston, where we saw people sitting and enjoying the sun on the Charles River Esplanade, albeit in coats. Even when it’s not really summer, it can be fun to pretend it is.

Afternoon stroll

So, after a long holiday weekend of pretending I could take a break from grading, teaching prep, and even the thought of teaching and grading, it’s time to get back to it. I probably won’t have time to blog much over the next week while I’m digging out from my paper-piles; I’m even taking a break from writing my daily hour, having finished the three-month contract I’d made with my writing partner, with plans to resume the practice in December. For now, it’s time to get down to the business of reading rather than writing, those paper-piles not having disappeared despite all my attempts to ignore them out of existence.

Sailing the Charles

Yesterday J and I went to the Charles River Esplanade for the “Massachusetts Remembers 9/11” concert and ceremony at the Hatch Shell.

Blue evokes blue

Sunday was a mild and sunny day–a day reminiscent of that turquoise-skied Tuesday ten years ago–so the Charles River was dotted with sailboats and kayaks while the Esplanade was thronged with cyclists, sun-bathers, and families with strollers. It was a day so lovely, you could almost pretend it was any ordinary Sunday until you came to a colorful patchwork tapestry spread on the grass like an enormous picnic blanket.

School children's flag mural

Half the size of a football field, this American flag consists of 50,000 red, white, and blue squares that contain messages written by Massachusetts school children in the aftermath of the 2001 attacks: a two-dimensional time-capsule to remind us of darker days.

School children's flag mural

J and I arrived at the Hatch Shell early, so we were able to enjoy a pre-concert performance by the Berklee College of Music’s Rhythm of the Universe, a collaborative project consisting of musicians from 90 countries from around the world.

Rhythm of the Universe

It seemed somehow apt that the first melodic line J and I heard as we approached the Hatch Shell was that of a headscarf-wearing woman keening to a Middle Eastern melody. It was a sound that was both moving and mournful, as clear and ethereal as a muezzin’s call to prayer.

Rhythm of the Universe

The two-hour concert and ceremony featured prayers led by the Massachusetts Interfaith Leadership Coalition and musical performances by the Boston Pops Brass Ensemble and the Boston Children’s Chorus.

Boston Pops Brass Ensemble with the Boston Children's Chorus

My thoughts, however, kept going back to the eclectic sounds of the Rhythm of the Universe, who illustrated quite vividly how the cultures of the world can come together to create harmony if they are united by a common melody.

Rhythm of the Universe

Click here for a photo-set of images from the “Massachusetts Remembers 9/11” concert and ceremony.