The deluge of the April rain catches me off guard as I ride my bike home from school. Gardens empty, school children scramble and I ride furiously with one eye to the sky.
There is always something comforting about entering my garden gate, no matter the weather or the time of day. I quickly pull the latch, park the bike and come inside to put on the kettle. I have to laugh at the water droplets spilling upon the kitchen floor. A quick cup of tea and back out the door to read Poetry on the Square. On this day it is Indiana’s poet, James Whitcomb Riley. With Dr. Hopp’s treasured book wrapped in a protective bag, I scurry to the Square to share my love of poetry. Already folks are questioning what I will read next April and we are still in the middle of this month!
Poetry and music go hand in hand for me … within moments I am sitting in the backseat of Elten and Carolyn’s van as we head to Ball State for a concert by the Wailin’ Jennys. Carolyn and I talk as quickly as the miles flying by with the rain pelting down. We stop to look at the greening of the fields and catch our breath at the sight of a huge rainbow strung across the sky. The sweetness of an Indiana spring always takes me by surprise and I often wonder how many more of them I will see?
With conversation and laughter, we soon arrive at Ball State before I know it. I spent my first two college years here, and I laugh at the stories and share with the car full of folks. We weave around through the crowds to take our seats in the Pruis Auditorium. It has been a while since I have attended a concert so I am all eyes and ears anticipating what I know will be a great show. I watch the crowd pour in, filling most every seat. I think back to the concerts I attended years ago on this campus, often times they were with dates that went rather badly!
The lights begin to dim and the three lovely ladies take the stage. I am captivated before they begin to sing. The Wailin’ Jennys hail from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada and are now celebrating their 15th year. They started out as three female singer/songwriters who ended up building a group that now tours internationally.
They begin their songs and tell stories which are sweet and funny and sad from their own experiences. As I listen to them sing I close my eyes in tune with them to feel the depth of their music. These women have often sung on my Pandora station and I always caught them when they performed on the Garrison Keillor show.
Their songs are about spring and love and flowers and death … as they weave them together. I wait through all the songs for “One Voice,” which comes at the end. This song I was able to sing with a group of women one time long ago. Memories of singing this song floods my thoughts and before I know it we, the audience, are on our feet applauding thunderously. They graciously bow and come back for an encore. This time they sing the lovely Irish song, “Parting Glass.” Carolyn and I look at each other down the row with hands on our hearts as we listen. They thank the audience profusely for coming and supporting live music.
Too soon we exit and weave back to the car dodging the puddles of water. The trip home is equally swift with conversations drifting in and out of the musical night and hometown thoughts. I love thinking about the live music appreciation. We name off all the venues of music and musicians that make our town alive. We might not have the Wailin’ Jennys in Angola, but we have the Jug Huffers and the Thriftniks and the Jim Webbers, and we have Poetry on the Square.
It is midnight when I arrive home. Under the stars of the heavens I pull out my ukulele and strum through the chords of “One Voice” and sing quietly under my garden twinkle lights so as not to wake the neighbors. We are one voice, all of us together, and under the Big Dipper I give thanks for each one of you. Poetry and music together … in this small town we call home.