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singing the heart out

Be prepared – here come more tedious cries of rapture. It’s Sunday morning, a perfect June day. After the May from hell, we have had a heavenly June, fresh mornings and evenings, hot days but not yet too hot – sublime. For some reason – perhaps the rain, perhaps I’m paying more attention – the scarlet peonies have lasted much longer than usual, and the roses are going mad. Two of my big rosebushes were gifts years ago from a friend who was renovating her garden; this is the first year they’ve exploded with blooms, one sweetheart pink and the other a luscious wine-dark red. The peach roses near the deck are happy, the oleander too, and the creamy white camellia – well, I invite you over for a sniff.

Other pleasures: on Thursday, I went for the massage which was part of my Mother’s Day present from my son. Mmmm – only an hour. I wanted more. And on Friday night, I was going to go hear Jeanette Winterson speak as part of Luminato, but ended up staying home to work – work is going well – and then traipsed next door to Monique’s weekly Francophone salon. Over our usual wine and food, we discussed, among other things: what exactly is fascism? What is the fundamental difference between left-wing and right-wing? (The terms, according to Jack, came from the French revolution.)
What are the ethics of friendship? Someone said that Heine described a close friendship as a kind of vampirism – did we agree, that you filled yourself up from a friend, as they did from you? Why is Canada such a wishy-washy apologetic place? And is that, though frustrating, a good thing in the end? Why is Canada moving to the right? Why are immigrants now Conservative rather than Liberal?
All this in French. It’s intense, and I say that both in French and English. Ahntohnse.
Saturday, again, was such a glorious day, I couldn’t go to yoga. Why rush off to find peace when I can sit working in the most peaceful place anywhere? Though yesterday, in fact, my neighbour Rob was having his deck sanded, which made a huge racket all morning. Plus the lunatic guy on the corner never, ever stops puttering noisily around his house, power-washing and sawing and hammering and stapling. I think he builds stuff and then tears it down and builds something else, just to have something to do, because I can’t imagine what else he can do to his @#$## house.
So perhaps my yard isn’t quite as quiet, always, as could be. But all that eventually stops, and there are birds and breezes, and camellias, roses and jasmin in the air.
Saturday late afternoon, I spent an hour cooking while listening to Beatles – “Help!” since I’m researching 1965. When I listen to Beatles, it’s not work, I’m singing and dancing while doing something or other with my hands. Friends and neighbours Mary, Malcolm and Jane came for dinner, and we dashed off – at 6.55 – for a 7 p.m. concert at nearby St. Peter’s. The Cabbagetown Community Youth Choir is made up of kids – Filipino, Sri Lankan, Pakistani, Indian, Latino and one or two Caucasians – from Regent’s Park and St. Jamestown, receiving classical vocal training from Daniel Eby, whom I know from the Y. The audience filled with parents and siblings, a granny in a sari. We settled into the pews in the stifling space, and I sighed, thinking, we’re doing our community duty, I hope it’s not too painful – the program daunting, Puccini, Mozart, Gluck.
A Filipina teenager called Faith began to sing Schubert – and we were knocked backwards. She has a pure operatic voice, powerful and sweet, rough on the edges, of course, but extraordinary. Then Dan introduced Ezekiel, telling us that he had only recently lost his soprano – and from a short Filipino boy emerged a powerful bass voice. And then others, including a row of tiny girls in what looked like sparkly ballgowns, as chorus.
Nothing can bring me to tears quicker than a choir, so you can imagine – a community youth choir filled with talented kids singing classics: a tiny eight year old singing Puccini’s “O mio babbino caro,” Faith and another girl singing Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Pie Jesu,” and “Climb Every Mountain” to end, with the assembled group. Tears and cheers. In the corridor outside was a huge feast prepared by the mothers, dishes from around the world to feed the multitudes.
We Cabbagetown grown-ups came back here to eat dessert and discuss where to find a choir, so that we, too, can open our hearts and sing.
PS It has occurred to me that I’m turning into a recluse. Today I was going to go to a talk on “The Power of Story,” with some interesting people – and I thought, I know all about the power of story, I’d rather stay here. I’m about a dozen movies behind, including ones I’m desperate to see.
As I wrote above, work is going well. When I read this paragraph in the book about writing by Roger Rosenblatt, I wondered if he’s describing what’s happening to me:

At the outset of your careers, you will probably enjoy the company of others for a while, up to the point that you know for certain what your life’s subject is, and your craftsmanship has risen to meet it. Then you will notice that you are increasingly disinclined to be in contact with your old friends, even the most beloved. Your husband, wife, partner, whoever, will constitute all the social life you need, and surprisingly little of that. In the end, you will find yourself glorying in that same solitude you sought to avoid at the start.



One response to “singing the heart out”

  1. Thank you share with us your experience, I like the post, because it has taught me a lot. Thank you to let me continuous learning everyday.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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Chris Walks
This blog evolves. It once was about travels. Now it’s a reason to be at the keyboard that I value.

Theresa Kishkan
Theresa Kishkan is a writer living on the Sechelt Peninsula on the west coast of Canada.

I walk on. With my feet, and in my mind as well.

Carrie Snyder
Wherever you’ve come from, wherever you’re going, consider this space a place for reflection and pause.


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