IMO: Vivaldi’s Winter, The Four Seasons

Except for a small lamp, I am sitting in the dark and face the computer screen. It is four in the morning. I’m grading college English composition papers where students compared and contrasted Ulysses S. Grant to Robert E. Lee. After the fifteenth one, my mind wandered and entered that zone where it splits–one side hears music while the other grades. I lose myself. On Pandora, Vivaldi’s “Winter” from Four Seasons begins.

It occurred to me that it has been twenty years since I last listened to Vivaldi’s “Winter.” It was four in the morning. I lived in the wasteland of Illinois during winter. Icy, bitter below-zero cold. The stars flickered, the air crackled, and the sun rose and changed the black into a powder blue sky. The sun teased, but the hope of warmth would not come that day.

I drove ninety minutes from my hometown to Illinois State University. My teenage kids still slept. They would get themselves up and eat breakfast and cross the street to school without my orchestration. Excited was I to be in college, and I fell in love with academia. I was in my thirties at the time and amazed by how little I knew about everything–history, literature, classical music, art, architecture, foreign languages, philosophy, and geography. I was starving and ate it up.

There is nothing to look at during the winter in central Illinois. The corn fields have been harvested. The expanse and flatness and dingy colors combined with the cold temperatures–well, that’s why I live in Arizona now. Two decades ago, Vivaldi’s Four Seasons played in the car. The first cup of coffee had worn off, and I was in that lull where one part of me heard the music while another part drove.

How wonderful then, today at four in the morning, that a time warp occurred. “Winter” by Vivaldi began on Pandora and triggered that long ride to campus. I was that non-traditional student traveling distances to learn. This morning, I am the instructor on the other side of the desk, that is, the other side of the computer who grades the paper I once wrote. Tied by Vivaldi, the music became a mirror, and I sat on both sides and said “Hello.”

23 thoughts on “IMO: Vivaldi’s Winter, The Four Seasons

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  1. What an evocative memoir, Cindy. I could feel the cold outside, on your long drive.
    (They should have given command of the army to Longstreet, instead of Lee. 🙂 )
    Best wishes, Pete. x

      1. He was a much better strategist. Lee was loved by his men, and believed he could ask anything of them, hence the disaster at Gettysburg, a battle they should have won on the first day, and not allowed the Federals to regroup in strength. Longstreet was a realist, and would have fought a ‘clever’ war. Then again, the Confederacy might have won, so maybe just as well Lee was in charge. 🙂

        1. ahh, hypothetical historical scenerios are always fun to speculate. I admired many confederate officers and they were more clever than many Yankee generals. The North won because of numbers and resources. You already knew that. 😉

  2. Great post 🙂 Interesting story. I knew you had lived in Illinois in the past based on some of your past replies. Thank you for playing Vivaldi’s Winter. Their is something hypnotic about the musical piece I must say. On an unrelated note, I remember that you did a Hitchcock blog entry a while back and I just posted a review of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds on my site in case you are interested in reading it. Here is the link below and keep up the great work as always 🙂

    https://cinematiccoffee.com/2018/10/18/john-charets-take-on-the-birds-1963/

  3. I learned over the years that all my academic and professional achievements were just the bottom rung of the ladder in learning. Our lifetime is just not enough to learn all the scientific information we have available today. And it’s changing in quantity every six months now too.

    1. The internet is overwhelming. I am nostolgic for the days when one spent a lot of time in libraries. The card catelogue, wandering around the aisles, notating this and that–all by hand, of course. Carrying all those books, too. Learning was an active process. Now, it flashes by on a screen and the job is make certain what you are reading is from a valid source. So much stuff!

  4. John Kinsella: Is this heaven?
    Ray Kinsella: It’s Illinois.
    John Kinsella: Illinois? I could have sworn this was heaven.

    Ray Kinsella: Is there a heaven?
    John Kinsella: Oh yeah. It’s the place where dreams come true.

    I can see the rare ability of a Teacher who can inspire her students.
    That is special.

  5. Such a warm post. Unlike you I am not a teacher but this post has earned an A+ in English, in Music Appreciation, and history.
    Lee was indeed the superior military mind. Too bad he didn’t see fit to honor the oath he took upon receiving his commission when he graduated from West Point. The one where he swore to God to honor and protect the USA.

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