Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Thunder Cloud That Wanted To Sing

This morning the thunder was rumbling, and it told me a story:

Once upon a time there was a thunder cloud named Boomer that wanted to sing.

 "Oh, please teach me how to sing like you," he said, to the operatic gypsy, who was mining the clouds for tears she might put into her arias.

She said, 'Let me hear your voice."

So he let out the biggest sound he could, deep and low, rumbling.

 The gypsy frowned and shook her head. "You'll never make it to Carnegie Hall."

 The cloud laughed. "Ha! I've already been there."

I interrupted the thunder and asked, "Is this about you?"

 The thunder replied, "It's loosely autobiographical."

I said, "You're a short-lived weather phenonomen.Why wish to be something you're not?"

 The thunder replied, "Why settle for drumming when I could be singing?"

I said, "Why do you need to sing? You already inspire awe, and sometimes, even dread."

The thunder said, "I scare people?"

 I said, "Well, mostly little children and dogs. Like my black dog Cheri. She's terrified of you."

That seemed to satisfy the thunder cloud. It growled with satisfaction, and rumbled off in a northeasterly direction.

I imagined this exchange between me and Boomer in the scrambled egg bleariness of 6:00 am, after finding that my dog Cheri had been sleeping in the bathroom, because thunder totally wigs her out. I spent a long time scratching her on the belly this morning. She stuck her forepaws straight out, and then came the sign that she was feeling relaxed: a single tooth stuck out of her mouth, and she let her head fall back with her eyes closed. 

Cheri is a sweet, laid-back dog, with a submissive personality, but she is full of fire when she wants to chase a rabbit or squirrel. She should be running and bounding through fields. I think of her doing that when I listen to a fiddle song called "My friend buddy", played by violinist/fiddler Natalie McMaster on a cd that I borrowed from my brother Marc like FIVE years ago and still haven't returned. I listened to that and another song off the cd on the way to work this morning, and they literally gave me goose bumps, because of their ebulliant joy. The fiddling McMaster does is in the Cape Breton style --a Celtic style that Scottish immigrants took to the Nova Scotia island of Cape Breton.

 The other day I decided to get re-acquainted with my fiddle. I had loaned it out to Marc, when I was in grad school and didn't have time to fool with it, and it turns out that not having time to fool with it becomes a habit that is hard to break. Marc -even if you had returned it to me earlier, I probably wouldn't have found time to play it.

I had taken lessons for almost two years, struggling through an exercise book and then a Suzuki book. But once in a while, I'd put on Bob Dylan's Blonde on Blonde cd and try to play along to "Absolutely Sweet Marie." Getting my notes to harmonize with the song and blend in with the other instruments was a heap of fun. I felt like a real simpleton, because I got such a kick out of it.

On a few rare occasions, after warming up by playing along with Bob, or other music I liked, this thing would come over me where I felt one with my instrument and I would just play effortlessly. I wasn't thinking about each string or each movement of the bow, it just flowed like water. I don't know if it sounded any good, but I was able to play little solos and I was barely aware of anything else and it all came out smooth.

The memory of that makes me want to spend some time feeling my way around the fiddle, without straining to follow a book. Maybe I'll be ready for that again later, but for now, I just want to pick out old songs I like, such as "Red River Valley" and "Carry me back to the lone prairie." And get out my Bob Dylan cds and play along.


  1. i enjoy the way you free-flow thru this post. we begin reading a story about thunder, your dog's fear of it, and we end up in a great homage to fiddle music, fiddle players, and the joy of music. how you do that?

  2. I look forward to hearing more fiddle! Can I play with you?

  3. Outer Space AlienJune 19, 2011 at 10:21 PM

    Earth atmosphere very negative friend! Electro discharge zappa zoo zappa! Human units! Be smart if Cheri Dog!