There was no doubt this morning from the moment of awakening – an elevation which by the way began for one of us not long after 2:00 am – that the paramount ambition today was completion of the puzzle, the 1000 piece obfuscation from England called “A Winter Stroll” by Steve Crisp sold by Gibsons “Proudly Entertaining Generations Since 1919”. I confess the occupation is not my own. For my part it’s Bill Evans, “You Must Believe in Spring (1981)”. I excuse my reservation from the endurance of the puzzle by my preference instead for finding words. Both of us however were agreed that a cycle was in order.
When preparing to descend to the garage in the elevator I encountered another resident returning from her routine early morning walk. She warned that the sidewalks were slippery as well as much of the driveway and roads. It proved to be true. Although the sun was warm enough to cause a pervasive fogginess, the warmth had not penetrated the frozen films of yesterday’s melt. Accordingly we proceeded with great caution, resembling no doubt two old fogeys out of their depth for such animated wintry exercise. We avoided the usual hills in an effort to check rapid movement; instead we confined ourselves to the flat portions of the subdivision roadways. Unsurprisingly the roads which arrowed directly into the rising sun were less treacherous than those at right angles and often hidden from the sun’s improving warmth by adjoining houses and trees. In any event, after a sometimes tedious repetition of streets, we still managed to cover almost the identical distance as usual; that is, 5.48 km today, slightly more than yesterday and the day before.
While cycling I heard the bells ringing from a local church. It reminded me, first, of my current lack of religious devotion; and, second, of the erstwhile pleasure I once derived from the Anglican Church of Canada, an adventure I notably began with confirmation at age 13 years when I literally attended church every day and twice on Sundays. The Anglican church hymns are remarkable, not the least of which is the much-popularized, “And did those feet in ancient times walk upon England’s mountains green…”
“And did those feet in ancient time” is a poem by William Blake from the preface to his epic Milton: A Poem in Two Books, one of a collection of writings known as the Prophetic Books. The date of 1804 on the title page is probably when the plates were begun, but the poem was printed c. 1808. Today it is best known as the hymn “Jerusalem“, with music written by Sir Hubert Parry in 1916. The famous orchestration was written by Sir Edward Elgar. It is not to be confused with another poem, much longer and larger in scope, but also by Blake, called Jerusalem The Emanation of the Giant Albion.
The poem was supposedly inspired by the apocryphal story that a young Jesus, accompanied by Joseph of Arimathea, a tin merchant, travelled to what is now England and visited Glastonbury during his unknown years. Most scholars reject the historical authenticity of this story out of hand, and according to British folklore scholar A. W. Smith, “there was little reason to believe that an oral tradition concerning a visit made by Jesus to Britain existed before the early part of the twentieth century”. The poem’s theme is linked to the Book of Revelation (3:12 and 21:2) describing a Second Coming, wherein Jesus establishes a New Jerusalem. Churches in general, and the Church of England in particular, have long used Jerusalem as a metaphor for Heaven, a place of universal love and peace.
The Sacrament of Heaven is for me at least not confined to the liturgy, rites, music or architecture of the Anglican Church of Canada. It includes the very fulfilling break with the morning fast which in this instance means a sliced green apple, an Ace baguette bagel and Le Chevronné soft ripened cheese from La Suisse Normande Ferme · Fromagerie, St-Roch Quest, Québec, Canada. All washed down with an exceedingly strong, black coffee.
The puzzle was begun on February 17th and completed at noon on February 28th. My only contribution to the entire puzzle was one piece. Amusingly when the puzzle was first completed there was one piece missing. A random investigation of the beater brush of the vacuum cleaner revealed the missing piece!