Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Yosemite and Hanukkah

...from Yosemite
Yosemite
Yosemite and Hanukkah?  Huh?  Is there some kind of mysterious, previously unknown connection here? Was John Muir secretly Jewish? 

Nope.

My family!
The only connection is that they both involve family time, that they both are related to holidays in one way or another, and that we were in Yosemite for a family trip this weekend, right before the beginning of Hanukkah.

The valley was lovely, cool and crisp, with patches of snow and ice on the ground, snow on the distant peaks, blue skies and sun. Glacier Point and Tioga Pass were closed, as is usual at this time of year, and Crane Flat was closed for renovation.  But we didn't mind: we were headed to the Ahwahnee Hotel, where we sampled potential dishes for an upcoming wedding. (Not mine, my son's.) The food was uniformly delicious; the service excellent.  We took a little walk afterwards, just as the sky began to gray and the late afternoon winter air chilled. It was wonderful.

At this time of year, the Ahwahnee is decorated for Christmas, with banners up for the annual Bracebridge dinners that start in a week and Christmas trees scattered all over the place (literally. I counted at least 3).  For us, coming to the Valley was truly a trip down memory lane, as we took family trips to Yosemite once or twice a year with our son, and many times before he was born.  

But going back to Hanukkah and Yosemite... After a light lunch on Sunday at Slim's Koffee Shak (emphasis on light as we were still stuffed from the yummy Saturday afternoon tasting and the delicious dinner at South Gate Brewery), traffic was easy enough Sunday that we were home before sunset, in time to light a candle or two.

To all who celebrate the Festival of Lights, a very Happy Hanukkah!

In the shameless plug department, if you're in Berkeley on Sunday, Dec. 13 at 2 p.m., there should be a lovely Christmas concert at the First Church of Christ Scientist (the beautiful Maybeck church at the corner of Dwight and Bowditch), with seasonal and other selections from works that include Handel's Messiah, Bach's Magnificat, Mozart's Vespers, and by Hildegard von Bingen. The musicians will be soprano Eliza O'Malley, mezzo-soprano Elizabeth Baker, violinist Michael Jones, cellist Adaiha MacAdam-Somer, organist William Ludtke, and moi, your blogger, 

What I'm reading: Dante's Inferno (for an upcoming translation; more on this another day ;)); When She Named Fire (a fascinating anthology of modern poetry by American women); Map to Everywhere

What I'm working on: The December 13 concert rep (soprano solos from Mozart's Vespers and Bach's Magnificat, carols &seasonal hymns), Handel's Tolomeo.

What I'm listening to: Meistersinger (fabulous production live last week at SFO), Les Troyens (from YouTube and another get SFO production last season), and Handel's Tolomeo), lots of chamber music for the Barbara Fritz Chamber Music Award applications.


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