I was born in a cloud...
Now I am falling. I want you to catch me.
Look up and you'll see me.You know you can hear me.
The world is so loud. Keep falling. I'll find you.
~Kate Bush, Snowflake
It is probably never wise to start a post off with at the risk of..., but, while we're talking about authenticity and, to some degree, baring soul (and as a follow up to this post), I'll risk baring this: I finally—this week, in good ole Beantown—took part in one of the dreaded "oscopies." Not fishing for congratulatory remarks, I'm a big girl (oh, am I?), yes, I am, but sometimes it takes me a while to get around to things. Especially those things I don't like. And fear. Such as balancing my checkbook, cleaning out the refrigerator, and, well, getting poked and prodded.
Wednesday, in Boston, it was a grey morning and a balmy 52 degrees. Dr. Bliss dropped by the holding area to say hello, review my records and recite a litany of complications. I read the paperwork! I wanted to tell him. But I didn't. I let him go on. After all, he is Dr. Bliss. Oh, Dr. Bliss, you're so very kind and attentive. (She thinks, and he is) I'm sure this procedure will be like having a cupcake for breakfast. What, shouldn't everyone start their day with a cupcake? There are certainly no complications with cupcakes. Cupcakes are not complicated. They are sweet and harmless (like you, Dr. Bliss). Lest one chokes on one, of course. But really, how would one choke on a cupcake?
There was a moment, a look between us, I felt for sure he'd read my mind. Look, how could I not be thinking about food? And choking? I hadn't eaten in days (alright, hours), and I was about to be wheeled into the tricked out room for an endoscopy.
After Dr. Bliss fluttered away the nurse returned to check my IV and seize my book. A book, you brought a book to your endoscopic procedure? (She said, in not so many words, after I had refused her magazine offering.) She smiled smugly, and I knew that she had heard my meditation on cupcakes. Moments later I was trundled toward the surgical room, where the hard stuff was administered and where all my worries fell away...
Yesterday, yet another mild day in New England, I spent the better (or worse) part of the day in bed, and then, late afternoon at my desk trying to compose a Frolic. But in my still loopy and confused state, not having altogether shaken off the previous day's midazolam and fentanyl cocktail, all I managed to do was watch video loops of snow falling and winterscape screen savers on YouTube while shaking my daughter's snow globe. Something was wrong.
Maybe it was the narcotics.
Or an obscure compulsion (fueled by narcotics?) to expunge all thoughts of Wednesday's stressful scoping by way of alternate, yet still dreamy, optics.
We have no snow. And in the winter months, it is not the waning sunlight that disturbs my circadian rhythm. It is snow deficiency. This winter, in this bend of Rhode Island, we've seen a total accumulation of a mere half foot of snow, which came to us in a weekend whirl and remained only long enough for my daughter and I to leave a pair of skinny ski tracks along our whitened streets during one afternoon. But it was a glorious afternoon. Outside, everything sang. The snow-covered woodpile, the twisting brittle grape vine (which, no matter how invasive, I will not cut—its summer canopy is simply gorgeous), the birdhouse, the stream beyond, and the shallow woods beyond the stream. It was an avalanche of song, it was shimmerglisten harmony, stellatundra chorus, a sorbet deluge of melody, terrablizza, spangladasha!* The next day, as temperatures rose and the dang sun blistered, frost began to pool and trickle down storm drains.
How does one find oneself in the wintertime without a snowy foil shading earth's face? (This is not how New England works!) The starkness of undressed trees and woodland and field, at times, seems unbearable. Where are the tracks laid? There is a crevasse in my soul that longs to be filled, as it rightly should this time of year, with the song of snow.
So what I did, at day's end, at wits end, at the edge of pharmaceutical fuliginousness, was what any decent New England girl would do, I sought the highest counsel: I went to mystical royalty. I went to Kate.
Her eminence, Kate Bush. With her 2011 concept album, 50 Words for Snow—which has been described as "elegantly loony"—she proffers an opulent and moody compilation that conjures what, this season, has become a winter phantom.
From the L.A. Times:
[...] Bush grounds her songs in the permafrost of winter, with her piano work sounding like the first stirrings after a cold snap. “Among Angels” could be the soundtrack for plants stretching toward the new spring sun, but as much as it’s connected to the natural world, the song twinkles with something more ethereal. “I can see angels standing around you,” Bush sings in her windblown soprano, “they shimmer like mirrors in summer.”
Bush's inspiration for the album is rooted in Eskimo lexicon myth: Eskimos have fifty words for snow. But they don't. Bush, nevertheless, brilliantly bangs out her own neologisms de neige in the same seductive voice of yesteryear—her misty highs and lows blanketing the soul with icy wonder dust.
The opening and closing cuts invoke a chill as they dwell on the ephemeral nature of the life cycle. "Snowflake," which features the choirboy pipes of Bush's 12-year-old son Bertie, gives voice to the melting consciousness of the natural world itself; "Among Angels" reads like the sweetest kind of suicide note. In between there are imagined couplings – with a gender-bending snowman in "Misty," and with a lover found and lost through many reincarnations (and played with brio by Elton John) in "Snowed In At Wheeler Street." The bounding "Wild Man" chases a yeti.
50 Words is an enchanting (if, at times, creepy) collection where each song builds on the other. It contains seven songs only, but their depth and breadth (the longest song is 11:08 minutes, the shortest, 6:48) are stunning. Listen. Worries fall away...
And then, there will be cupcakes, iced, this evening. And tomorrow, for breakfast—should there be any leftovers.
* Italicized modifiers courtesy Kate Bush, 50 Words for Snow.