Saturday, January 7, 2012

Opening Scene: Howard's End

Is there a visual equivalent to having a song stuck in your head? A picture that flashes upon that inward eye? Some films stay with me. Not the entire movie usually, but a scene or passage.

The one that I'm thinking of today is the opening scene of "Howard's End," the Merchant-Ivory production of E.M. Forster's novel. Ruth Wilcox is walking through the grounds of her family's property at dusk. The sense of her connection to the place is palpable: quiet joy pervades the scene. Whenever I think of that scene, I'm reminded of how much I love to be outdoors, with fresh air and green, growing things surrounding me. The worst mood can be improved by taking a walk. Problems don't disappear, but they take on their proper perspective when I head out-of-doors.

When my kids play outside, running from tree to tree with laughter, or quietly studying a mud hole as they poke a small branch into the soft earth, I know they are connecting to this place, as I connected to mine as a child. I can still smell the orange blossoms and eucalyptus, remember how long it took to run all the way around the house: through the vegetable garden, under the clothesline, across the lawn.

"The present flowed by them like a stream. The tree rustled. It had made music before they were born, and would continue after their deaths, but its song was of the moment. The moment had passed. The tree rustled again. Their senses were sharpened and they seemed to apprehend life. Life passed. The tree rustled again." ~ E.M. Forster, "Howard's End"

When I walked out to the mailbox today, the wind was whispering through the needles of my neighbor's pine tree. Why is that such a comforting sound?

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