Sing a Song for Springtime

Green leaves unfold, flowers blossom, and songbirds line the tree boughs and flit in the bushes and on the ground.  Every day, the world seems more intensely green.  Driving home on winding highways that dip through forest tunnels and by meadows of cows, I sometimes see entire fields that are so covered in yellow blossoms that they glow like a splash of sunlight.  Without a doubt, winter has withdrawn, spring is here, and soon summer will arrive.  To celebrate the season, I thought I would share with you some choral music that reminds me of spring.

Immortal Memory: A Burns Night Celebration by Paul Mealor is a delightful album with beautiful choral arrangements and recitations of songs and poems by Robert Burns.  To give you a taste of the album, here’s the song “Immortal Memory.”

Acclaimed choir director and composer John Rutter teamed up with harpist Catrin Finch to create the lovely album Blessing.  The songs on this predominately harp album range from lullaby-like to peppy and leave me with a smile on my face.  Who would have thought that harp and bassoon could pair so well together?

And to finish with two lovely songs arranged by John Rutter, here are “What Sweeter Music” and the upbeat “Sing a Song of Sixpence.”

Are you an enthusiastic traveler or spring-cleaner who likes to belt out favorite songs while hard at work?  What are some of your favorite springtime songs?  Please share in the comments.

Review: Captain Marvel

Due to the shortness of time, I am re-posting my review of the film, Captain Marvel, from our sister site, Flint & Bone’s Comic Reviews, today.

Flint and Bone's Comic Reviews

Drumming up an original introduction to yet another Marvel movie review requires more effort with each review. What original words can be said about this one that have not already been said in some combination regarding the myriad of predecessors? Has the franchise passed its prime? That is the question I concern myself with, probably too often. Is there an original thread to be plucked, or thought to be explored that hasn’t been already?

This is popcorn fare. Designed to bring crowds to the theater, satisfy the faithful comic-book readers as well as those who casually keep up with the films. Glitz, glamour, extensive action set pieces. It’s practically rote for Marvel films at this point.

And speaking of Marvel, Carol Danvers is Captain Marvel. Through a series of flashbacks, Carol’s story is revealed. It’s a sad, happy tale that includes a not-so-ordinary cat named Goose and a younger…

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The Things About Us I’d Forgotten

I destroyed my diaries, finally.

Rest assured, there weren’t any horrible, dark secrets in them, though I might have been grateful for one of those at the time. No, they were merely full of the inane babble, punctuated by a few attempts at Deep Thoughts, of a child whose imagination was usually more remarkable than her actual existence. I cringed every time I so much as glanced at the pages, and so, at long last, I ripped out a few half-decent-ish poems, and chucked the rest in the trash.

More of my high school writing is at least salvageable. In fact, I was looking through a trove of old Word documents when I rediscovered an essay I’d written, responding to the following prompt: “Has there been a time in your life when a friend or relative really lifted your mood or improved your outlook on something?  Write a letter to that person, describing the situation and how you felt, and thanking them for what they did for you.”

And who was this heartfelt note addressed to? To the following individuals:

To the People at Church that Sit at the Table Nearest the Trash Can, a.k.a. the Kid’s Table.

Yup, I definitely wrote that. I don’t think much of a good chunk of the writing; it’s far too full of verbose meanderings on subjects that, while perhaps tangentially related, are really just there because I wanted to include them. E.g., I get it, 16-year-old me, you were a Tolkien nerd and proud of it, and you and your little friends thought Peter Jackson could do no wrong. It would be years before The Hobbit films came out, and it all came crashing down…

…Obviously, there are aspects of writing that I still struggle with to this day. But boy was I into italicizing words for emphasis back then. Never mind that; it’s nearly ten years later, and I have the power to edit as I see fit, deleting some portions and focusing on what I see as important now, in this nostalgic mood I’m in.

I wrote a letter to my ten or so best childhood friends. “When we share our ‘fellowship meal’ after church,” I explained, “the adults always sit at the table nearest the bathrooms and talk about politics and other stuff, and we, all ten of us kids (we’re such a small church) eat at the other table. This is the ‘Kid’s Table,’ even though we range from twelve to nineteen.”  I thanked all of them, for letting me be “…as silly as I want with you. You are my friends and I…yeah, I love you. As sappy as that is to actually say.”

Here’re some of the “situations” I described:

and then there’s J.C.M.’s take on the whole ‘Guns vs. Gold, Which Should You Stockpile When Society Breaks Down?’ discussion – this was R.J.’s brainchild: he delights in predicting the end of America as we know it. J.C.M proclaimed: “Guns will get you gold.”

Ultimately, K.G. and J.J. and I are the sort of people to whom you can tell an unbelievable story about your encounter with aliens in the woods, and we will totally go along with it, and try to identify these aliens to see if they’re the same kind we met the other day.”

If it comes right down to it, we’re all rather silly.  The ‘Slightly More Sensible Circle,’ J.C.M., J.J.M., and D.J., will always take a break from their discussion of technological stuff to help us make a list of ‘Worst Smelling Stores’ (with Bed, Bath & Beyond being #1).”

Even the calmest of us isn’t immune from the rivalry that invades whenever we play Uno…It’s so easy to chuckle at R.J.’s droll commentary (‘J.J.M. now proceeds to dump a Draw Four card on D.J. A.M. will now take the lead and lay down an Eight of Blue.’) ”

K.G. purposely mixes his food together – defiles it! – because he knows I can’t stand that.  Which is why, when I deal out Uno cards, I viciously spit out: ‘six-six-six.’ He’s superstitious about it.  Or pretends to be.”

“…as I so famously quoted to y’all some time ago: ‘Life’s not a rosy bed of floppy bunnies.’”

Mom once asked me: what if, when I grow up and move away, I forget all about everyone here. I said: ‘I think I’d have a hard time forgetting about these people.’ When I recently re-told the story to y’all, I added, jestingly: ‘Some of these memories will probably haunt my nightmares.’”

I’ll never let anyone forget how someone was once twisted into saying – very sarcastically, it must be admitted – ‘Yes, and it’s every boy’s dream to become a dolphin.’

But here’s the thing: I did forget. I’d forgotten every one of these things. I don’t want to think of how many more things I’ve forgotten.

Although, it is true, I have not forgotten the people. This last paragraph I wrote still does ring true.

This letter really doesn’t say all I want it to. It’s hard putting love down on paper, hard putting years of us down on paper. How can you portray people and relationships in all their wondrous complexity in crude words, especially since I primarily think in images? I hope that, wherever I go, whatever serious business I get up to, when sensibleness gets to me, I’ll keep that picture of us all, sitting at the church lunch table, giving our crazy spin on life.”

Still. I really should have kept a better diary.

Animal Encounters of the First Kind

Have you ever noticed how writing something down gave you a whole new perspective on it? These stories all happened separately, but once I began to write each poem, I realized there was a rhythm to them. They flowed, not in chronological order, but from the biggest creature to the smallest, from the most fearful to the most fearless, in an odd juxtaposition of animal-kind.

“Feline Xenophobia”

Bright green eyes are open wide,

Watching my every move.

Pyramid ears swivel toward me,

Monitoring my every noise.

Lithe body stretches slinky-like,

Trying to sneak to safety

When her owners are distracted,

But, no, she is retracted

From a dash behind the couch or bed,

And I gently pet her silky head,

Speaking kindly to the feline

Trying to overcome her stranger-fear.

“Squirrel Indifference?”

Perched in a tree fork, nibbling away at a nut,

Merely two feet away as I stop on the path,

Reigns a lordly squirrel who solemnly gazes

Down at me without a speck of shyness, all cool

Indifference, tiny jaws and paws quivering

As he handles his food.  He stared at me so long

I’d call it quite rude, except I was no better,

Photographing the silly sovereign with my phone.

Suddenly, he skims up the tree away from view.

Perhaps his calm demeanor was but a sham

And the seeming indifference hid his fear of man.

“Turtle Courage”

Tiny turtle, I won’t hurt you.

Here, I’ll help you off your back.

Let me set you on this windowsill

To keep you safe from treading feet

Until our gardening is complete.

Tiny turtle, half-dollar in diameter

With a patterned yellow belly

And a red clay muddied back,

You never retreat inside your shell,

But stick your head out boldly.

Tiny turtle, you embark on a journey,

Full of danger, as you bravely totter

Over the brink and back to the ground

From that high sill of solitude—

A feat I thought you’d never do.

Tiny turtle, you won’t let me help you.

No, you must face the world alone.

On your back again from your tumble,

You wriggle until you flip upright,

Striking out for the flower jungle.

Tiny turtle, here’s a final helping hand

To a less-populated bit of land.

Your courage belies your yellow-belly.

You are no coward, I can tell.

Undaunted, go, and fare you well.

This poetic trio is based on perhaps my top two inspirations for poetry: true events and animals. Can you compose a poem or short story using one or both of these? If so, please share in the comments! I think you will find the process and the result rewarding.