The Marathon anniversary has come and past and we’ve performed A View from Heartbreak Hill enough times that I cannot get one of the tunes out of my head. “This, this gleaming April”, begins the song “Still”, speaks of the beauty all around us –“tulips beautiful”, “stroll to the park”, and then seeing the flags at half mast. That’s how it is: this year as well as last. So much beauty and so many reminders, all together. Sad and wistful and poignant and so much beauty, so much new growth.
This month I’ve sung, taught, had a wonderful Passover Seder with friends and family, walked, rode my bike, gardened, and had terrible allergies. The week of the last performance I had to cancel teaching in order to save my voice, and hide from the beckoning garden on the day of the concert. I went swimming instead, letting the chlorine banish the tree pollen from my instrument, or respiratory passages anyway. After so many years of taking care to avoid colds, not drink or eat certain foods before big concerts (for days or even weeks, in some circumstances), it is a relief to have fewer concerts for which to prepare, and more that simply fit the current me: less travel on planes near concert dates, pieces that are written for me and that fit me perfectly. That is a wonderful gift of being a mature singer who has paid my dues–I sang plenty of awkward music in my 20’s, too high or too soft or uncountable. I did enough premieres of “just okay” music, and many more of sublime music.
Today, this gleaming April day, the first flowers on my apricot tree opened. Apricots bloom early, and often get hit by frost afterwards, but they seem to know what they are doing. I’ve seen about 2 apricots ripen on that tree over the past 10+ years. First the aphids and then the birds get them. But it is a lovely sight, along with the daffodils, hyacinths and all the little green spouts of perennials coming back to life again (“I’m so glad to see you again,” I say to them in the mornings when I make my rounds, “Please remind me of your name.”)
April is also National Poetry Month, and I got a chance to hear Martha Collins read from her new books right down the street in Roslindale, where my JP Jubilee group sang for the seniors last semester. Martha wrote “The Green House”, which Dana Maiben set so beautifully for me to sing last year. So I was particularly pleased to hear poems about April–she writes a poem a day for a month and has a book with 6 months covered, all from different years.
red than green,
when I wrote at seven
the busy maple I didn’t know what
the maple was doing,
but now I’m fixed
on magnolia: rose bullets on one side
of this tree and opening open-
ing open on the other
Martha Collins, Day Unto Day, ©2014