Spring in 2’22”

April 16th, 2009 | Uncategorized

Yesterday I had to drive 10 hours from Vermont to Western PA, where I’m doing a school visit at Clarion University. It’s always miraculous traveling south at this time of year because you can watch the grass getting greener and the trees unfurling as you go. Here’s my trip, from the Green Mountains, to the Adirondacks, to the Catskills, then at dusk I plunge off the edge of New York down into the Delaware River Valley, Pennsylvania and the Poconos. Around Scranton the sun set and I had to stop taking pictures.

47 Responses to “Spring in 2’22””

  1. iara says:

    Wow, this is so cool! Welcome back to PA!

  2. Ian says:

    Oh wow. I loved the classical score you gave your slideshow. What’s the piece of music called?

    I’ve long been told that one of the best holidays in the USA is to drive through New England during the fall, that the colours of the leaves are simply stunning. I really hope you do another of these driving films then.

  3. laura says:

    Wow, great movie (and music). Thanks thanks (AND, I get to be the first one to comment!!).

  4. Mija says:

    Thanks Alison ! That was very sweet. I really miss being on the road. I spent 2 years on the biker rally circuit and the drive to Laconia N.H. was my favorite. I think I knew where a lot of those shots were. Hope you had fun at Clarion!

  5. NLC says:

    The music is from the “Spring” section of Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons”.

  6. NLC says:

    (Oops, sorry, hit “Submit” too soon): Specifically the 2nd (Largo) movement.

  7. Calico says:

    What a nice video.
    However, violin music always makes me want to cry, it’s so emotive and lovely.

    BTW, We’ve been discussing passover at joshreads.com due to a couple of comix – I’m a gentile, but I always find the Jewish holidays to be so fascinating and full of history and ritual-I’ve been to a couple of seder (sp?) dinners and loved it.

  8. Ian says:

    @NLC: I knew it would be something I ought to know but don’t. Then again, it’s a very long time since I sat down to listen to classical music. πŸ˜‰

  9. NLC says:


    Sadly, in this case I can’t claim any special knowledge.

    At this time of the year, it’s a nearly-unavoidable side-effect of the fact that I work at home and typically have Vermont Public Radio’s classical music “service” on most of the day.

    During the last couple of weeks you’d be amazed at the number of times that I’ve heard:
    – Vivaldi’s “Spring” Concerto
    – Copland’s Appalachian Spring
    – Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony
    – Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring
    – Beethoven’s Spring Sonata
    – Sumer is icumen in
    – Just about every madrigal ever written
    – etc, etc
    (As I type, they’re playing selections of Orff’s Carmina Burana.)

    Nice music –matched by the near perfect weather out my window– but, still….

    Lhude sing, y’all

  10. ksbel6 says:

    Thanks for the pictures AB! At any mention of Scranton, PA, I immediately start hearing “20,000 lbs of Bananas” by Harry Chapon πŸ™‚

    For all of you involved in education…don’t forget tomorrow is “Day of Silence.” It seems to be particularly relevant this year. For those of you who haven’t heard the story, Carl Walker-Hoover was a 6th grade boy who recently killed himself due to constant bullying at school.

  11. Mija says:


    That’s why I like going to Seder YUMMTASTIC FOOD! This chicksa luves the hamantachen and macaroons. Needless to say, I am one curvy Gentile πŸ™‚

  12. cd in Madison says:

    Excellent! Is that Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg’s version of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons? I am her groupie. Happily she is coming to Madison next fall to play with the symphony.

  13. Alex K says:

    “Scrannel”. But I’m not stringed instruments’ biggest fan.

    And so out and down, across to Western Pennsylvania, passing the turn-off to the north and to Beech Creek.

    I wondered idly last week, on my own way from Philadelphia through Hummelstown to Scranton: Will the yellow-on-dark blue metal Pennsylvania-history plaque for AB, marking and memorialising, be at the entrance to Beech Creek? At the site of the Fun Home?

  14. Ame says:

    Several years ago my travels in March and April allowed me to witness three early springs; one where I live in western Massachusetts, followed a few weeks later by one near the part of Pennsylvania where I know now AB grew up (Black Moshannon State Park; that one also included different levels of spring-ness depending on elevation–the forsythia were out in the valleys but not on the mountain). The last one was in southern Ontario–checking to see how much the daylily shoots had grown that day was the highlight of the evenings.

    Today is one of those days where when I get home this evening the buds on the trees in my yard will be noticeably bigger than they were this morning. Love it.

  15. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Mija, Calico

    As a kid, I loved Passover. As an adult, I grin and bear it. The Seders are fun, but the preparation in the house is a PITA, and the food does *NOT* agree with me.

    I suppose it’s easier if one is a carnivore, meat/potatoes/most veggies are not a problem on Pesach. But I don’t have any meat in the house unless they are leftovers from somewhere else. While some meals are pretty much the same (last night’s dinner was tilapia provenΓ§al, asparagus, and Yukon Golds, along with a salad), all that matzo, along with all those eggs in everything, completely put my digestive system out of whack. I miss pasta. I miss legumes. I miss brown rice.

    There’s a reason all those alter kockers (old farts) in my family ate lots of fruit compote on Pesach!

    Right now, I am craving leavening… yeast… pizza… beer.

    And tonight, after sundown, I will be having pizza and beer for dinner. YEAH!

  16. CLR says:

    Scranton! … The electric city.

  17. Feminista says:

    @hairball–My paternal grandparents were big on prune juice and fruit compote year-round,and all the relatives always had a big bowl of fresh fruit in the kitchen. My sister and I do,too.

    Eat fruit!

  18. Elisabeth Donato says:

    Hey, it was definitely a privilege (and honor) to see you and hear your talk at Clarion University! I bought your book when it came out (at the time, I was on a bit of a graphic novel binge, having read Craig Thompson’s “Blankets,” David B.’s “Epileptic,” and “Persepolis”), and never thought that I would ever meet you in person.

    The French comic strip artist on whom I have done some work is Marcel Gotlib. Thanks for having signed my copy of your book! And read all of “A la Recherche du temps perdu” – it will not be wasted time!

    Oh, and great slide show you posted, with cool music too.

    Finally, one question – how can I manage to take a look at that one page book review you did? Is it anywhere online, and, if not, where was it or will it be published?

    Thanks again, great to have met you!

  19. bean says:

    the misrachi and sephardim eat rice.

    i never thought it was supposed to be a holiday about sacrifice and suffering, but rather a liberation celebration. so i observe by happily eating butter and salt on my matzoh, which i love, and go on about my business.

    oh, i also made gefilte fish. (and i don’t mean i opened a jar.) i know those lake fish are loaded down with pollutants and heavy metals, but what can you do? it’s food for the ashkenaz soul.

  20. Ready2Agitate says:

    It’s funny ~ I know so few people who take road trips anymore. I think it’s because we all have bad backs/knees/necks, etc. and flying seems easier on the body (yes, I know it takes its toll on the body too). And flying can be affordable (compared to gasoline/cars) if you can book in advance. I wonder if AB drives simply to do the thinking, image-capturing, languring (made up word) that comes through in the video (or could she simply be scared of flying).

  21. Ready2Agitate says:

    (oh, I didn’t mean that the way it came out — I mean could she simply have a distaste of flying… or is it the Stuart in her…?)

  22. Minnie says:

    Oh what a treat, the 2’22″video — heartbreakingly beautiful landscape and skies — with the Vivaldi, (which I’ve sort of ignored as his second part of “winter”- Jean Cocteau used it in “Les Enfants Terribles” — has me besotted).
    At first I was bewildered as I thought 2′ 22″ was two feet twenty-two inches.

    Thank you, Ms. Bechdel!

    But I digress. Hairball_of_hope, I had whole wheat matzos. They were kind to my tummy and did not glom pastily to my teeth.

    And oh, bean, so right about the butter!

  23. Minnie says:

    How gauchely put. I was digressing about Jean Cocteau, not Alison’s gift to us!

  24. Ben says:

    Thanks for posting this…I’m a sucker for a vicarious roadtrip.

  25. Ali says:

    My Lord Derby apple tree is in flower. It has beautiful blossoms with red tinged backs to the petals – reminiscent of raspberry ripple when open and mixed with the pure white inner petals. The solomons seal is unfurling day by day, strangely reptilian as it emerges from the warmed spring soil. A robin has built a nest in an upturned bird box I never quite got round to putting up and its young wait silently until furtively the parent bird enters and it is a cacophany of buzzing chirps. The wild cherries are out everywhere in the hedgerows and it reminds me of Housmans poem Loveliest of Trees the Cherry – “Stands the cherry along the ride, Dressed in White for Eastertide” Where there is spring there is growth and life – hope.

  26. Ian says:

    @Minnie: I wouldn’t worry too much about digressing about Jean Cocteau. πŸ˜€ Digression is the raison d’etre of the commenters on this blog!

    In fact, I’ll do it right now. After the bacon and the gefilte fish digressions of past posts, I’ll direct you to a URL all about really gross food (now Lent and Passover are over) and go from the sublime (AB’s video above) to the ridiculous:



  27. hairball_of_hope says:


    Those are brilliant! And the choco taco looked pretty good to me.


    Your description of the garden coming to life is wonderful… I wish I had someplace like that to wile away spring days.

    @bean, Minnie

    Yeah, the Sephardim have it easy for Pesach, they can eat kitnyot (legumes) and rice. My Sephardic cousins make kosher l’Pesach spanakopita (Greek spinach pie), but they use matzo instead of phyllo dough. It’s still tasty though.

    I had whole wheat and spelt matzo in addition to the plain stuff. I’ve become a devotee of the British Rakusen’s matzo, it’s much tastier than the American and Israeli matzo. The taste and texture are almost like expensive handmade schmura (watched) matzo, without the ridiculous pricetag. I use the American stuff (Streit’s) for matzo brei.

    I’m impressed that bean made homemade gefilte fish. That’s a ton of work, although my perception of the amount of work is based on watching my grandmother and mother make it by hand. Nowadays, I suppose it’s easier with food processors.

    My gefilte fish skills are limited… I can open a jar, and that’s about it. Sometimes I simmer the jarred stuff with some carrots to make it taste a bit more like homemade.

    Gefilte fish is definitely an acquired taste. It’s the closest humans come to eating something that resembles cat food. Even my cat refused to eat gefilte fish! He did occasionally go for the liquid from the jar, but never the gelled glop.

    I had my pizza last night, but no beer. While I was waiting for my pizza to arrive, I composed a haiku:

    Eight days of matzo
    Like forty years wandering
    Make freedom taste sweet


    On your way back from Western PA, stop off in Bear Run to see Fallingwater, if you’ve never seen it. The creek should be high this time of year from snowmelt, which makes it even more stunning. I was really impressed to see the house in person, it’s cantilevered over the creek like a diving board, and the there are stairs from the living room that go straight into the water. Supposedly Kaufmann and pals would fish from the stairs.

  28. Fluffy says:

    Thanks for the gorgeous, haunting video. Was wondering if you noticed any migratory spring bird activity along the way.

  29. ksbel6 says:

    @R2A: Or she could be like me…not afraid of the actual flying, but terrified of all the security one has to deal with in order to get on the plane!!

  30. Antoinette says:

    A thing of beauty is a joy forever. Thanks for the video.

    All the flowering trees here are getting ready to pop, but the oaks and maples are already pollinating. The birds are twitter-pated. All we need now is the evening chorus of spring peepers.

    Much as I love the coziness of winter, spring is always worthy of celebration.

  31. Ellen says:

    In case you all didn’t see this. Metaphorical spring time. New York governor Patterson introduces a gay marriage bill.


  32. Ellen says:

    Images of greening trees are good. Especially since it is snowing here in Colorado. We’ll likely have 10 inches by this time tomorrow. We lovingly call it “Springtime in the Rockies.” (and we do need the moisture.)

    Meanwhile, for more humor, check out this gem via Lisa Geduldig’s Facebook page: a sorta funny, sorta creepy, anti-gay marriage ad.


    Do these actors all seems like queer boys and butches in drag to you? Or is it just me?

  33. Ready2Agitate says:

    That’s for REAL, Ellen?! Oh my. There’re some great retorts, but let me ask again: That’s for REAL?! [and agreed: these are (mostly) queer actors, no?]

    Love the haiku, HoHope! (I make matzo lasagne every year — very easy, and I swear matzo is the superior material for lasagne over the noodle!)

    ksbel6, I’m heartbroken over that young ‘un’s suicide ~ no words….

  34. Ellen O. says:

    Ready2 — when you are flying from a small city to a small city and have to make connections, driving even ten hours might be equal to all the layovers and prep-time at the airport.

    Also, maybe AB is gonna visit her mother after the visit to Clarion.

    I’m thinking about driving to the desert next month.

    And yes, the ad is real and will be running on a cable channel near you!

  35. Alex K says:

    @ H_o_H: Things other than g.f. that approximate catfood —

    1) High-end furikake. This Japanese dust of spices, sesame seeds, and fishy bits applied to rice as flavouring contains less fish the cheaper it gets.

    2) Labskaus, a north German hash, served traditionally with a fried egg on top, made with corned beef, potatoes, herring, onion, beetroot, and herring. Also herring. Did I mention the herring?

    3) Herring.

  36. j.b.t. says:

    Hi All,

    This may have been covered already, but OMG – did anyone see the most recent Oprah magazine article about women leaving their husbands/boyfriends for women??? I got the mag for the Michelle Obama interview (fantastic – made me like her even more) and found the “She’s So Fine” article to be a bonus treat…

    Annyone else willing to fess up to reading O?


  37. Ginjoint says:

    Re: that anti-marriage ad: “There’s a storm gathering. The clouds are dark, and the winds are strong. And I am afraid.”

    {clapping my hands in glee} Oh, I am so totally going to start uttering these words during every possible situation in life! What an awesome catchphrase. (Catch…sentences?) I especially love the flashlight-under-the-chin tone in which it’s said.

    Ksbel: Spent the day with the crush last week, which was wonderful, but don’t look for anything to happen. And why are you so afraid of security?

  38. Ginjoint says:

    j.b.t.: I can’t read that magazine for the simple reason that Oprah features Herself on every friggin’ cover. Why can’t she feature some of the amazing (non-famous) folks that have crossed her path, many of whom she’s had on her show, or at least herself with those people?

  39. Ready2Agitate says:

    H_o_Hope, My ma is fond of Haikus. So I sent her yours. This was her reply to me:

    Thanks for the Haiku
    Well written and fun to read
    Time for chametz now

    Don’t get me started on Oprah-I’m-so-fat-what’s-wrong-with-me. Can’t say I’ve read much but I’ve heard enough here N there to feel kinda annoyed with her (sorry j.b.t. – my good buddy reads her religiously!)

    There’s wildly uncreative conservatives out there. And I am afraid….

  40. MaryE says:

    that ad is real, and has been airing on local channels here in Iowa for a while… I live in Iowa City so most of the people I know just laugh, but I can only hope that the rest of the state doesn’t take it more seriously :/

  41. Therry and ST. Jerome says:

    @NLC — a lovely list of spring music, but you left out my favorite piece, one my husband plays every spring, and alas, rarely heard because it’s a bloody impossible score:

    Britten’s Spring Symphony!

    It’s bliss, set to a cacophony of spring poetry. It only requires four of the best voices in the world to sing, not to mention the boys’ chorus, but there’s a gorgeous recording available with a quartet of brilliant English singers. You can dowload it, or buy it on Amazon or at Arkivmusic.com. John Eliot Gardner recorded it, also ANdre Previn, both favorite conductors.

  42. ksbel6 says:

    @Ginjoint: I’m trans, but don’t plan on changing anything for quite some time. I would explain, but it would take years, and is too personal for such a public forum. Anyway, I am often mistaken for male and because of that, the idea that something I have on my possession would trigger any type of search scares the crap out of me. Once they decide you are a threat, they can keep you as long as they like without any notification to anyone. The idea of me not having the option to just walk away scares me. When you live like I do, in a situation where the average person expects you to be one thing, but then you turn out to be another, you realize just how much the average person does not like surprises!! And, since I believe the average person in charge of airport security to not be the most tolerant individual (I’m sorry, I’m stereotyping), I avoid them like the plague.
    I’m still pulling for something to happen with the crush πŸ™‚

  43. hairball_of_hope says:


    And then there’s the little problem of showing a “government-issued ID,” which may list a gender identification and first name that don’t match other documents and/or the screener’s perception of the traveler’s gender identity.

    It doesn’t take much to fluster the screeners. I have a straight, twice-married, twice-divorced female friend who has a wallet full of cards and documents with so many permutations of her last name(s), she has to look at each card before signing to make sure she’s signing with the correct signature. And depending on which name is on her airline ticket, they may or may not like her driver’s license as gov’t-issued ID.

    A coworker who was born in Hong Kong has both a Chinese and an English first name. Some of her HK documents use one name, some use another. I forget which name is on her US naturalization papers, her Chinese name is used as her middle name on her driver’s license, but some other documents have only her Chinese name, not her English name. This also throws TSA for a loop, and you can add in some anti-Asian racism in the mix, which doesn’t help. I’d wager if she were from a Middle East Arab country, they wouldn’t let her on the plane at all.

  44. ksbel6 says:

    @hoh: Yep…and for me the risk isn’t worth the reward. I would rather drive for two days than bother with the stress.

  45. Ginjoint says:

    @ ksbel: *forehead slap* Sheesh. I totally forgot you’re trans. I’m sorry, ksbel, I didn’t mean to make you bring up something personal here. I thought it was just some interesting youthful indiscretion that led to you being placed on some “no-fly” (is that what they call it?) list, and I was looking forward to a fun story. Again, apologies.

  46. ksbel6 says:

    @Ginjoint: No problem, no big deal. It also hit me while I was typing, that might explain my success with the straight ladies. Why I never thought about that before escapes me!! I would rather chalk it up to my patient nature πŸ™‚