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Monday, June 11, 2012

Summer storm


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William Butler Yeats said,

"We can make our minds so like clear water that beings gather around us, that they might see their own images, and so live for a moment with a clearer, perhaps even fiercer life because of our quiet.”

I remember one summer night lying in bed at the cottage in the big bedroom upstairs in one of the two double beds encompassed by open screened windows on three walls. I was fourteen, and I had my small FM radio playing quietly so only I could hear it from the nightstand a few inches from my pillow, the only light in the room from its linear dial. It was a hot Michigan night, and a storm was building around us, the way they always did at that place. One storm would come, the clouds would burst, and then another would follow it in a circle of storms. I loved sleeping in that room and waking to the rain on the tin roof, an occasional acorn falling with the rain. Quietly that night when I was the only one awake, my mom and dad in the bedroom downstairs, over the radio came keyboards, thunder, rain and Jim Morrison singing “Riders on the Storm” and I knew the luxury of sound. I did not understand who the “killer on the road” in the song was, or that Jim Morrison had just died of a heroine overdose. I had not yet studied Yeats in college, or visited sites of Dublin's Easter Rising. I did not know much at all, come to think of it.

I still relish the luxury of that emptiness in a thunderstorm, surrounded by a sky brimming with power, and so much depending on how we listen.


 
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40 comments:

Ginnie said...

It's funny, Ruth, that at 11 years your senior, I had/have no memories of Jim Morrison's music in my day. BUT I knew it was important to find his burial spot when we visited the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris a few years back. It almost made up for lost time! That and Édith Piaf's tomb! But she's another story altogether....

I love the memories you have of the cottage. I wish I had known you better back then!

hedgewitch said...

Wonderful Yeats quote, Ruth. I've always loved storms, though I have a different perspective and respect for them here than when I was growing up on Lake Michigan--something about them that releases us from having to be in control, perhaps. One of Morrison's most eerie songs, as well. Thanks for this thoughtful start to my day,

The Solitary Walker said...

"... even fiercer life ...' God bless Jim Morrison. I too have been to the shrine at Père Lachaise.

And this song, well, it's one of the most 'atmospheric' tunes ever written. Except it's not a tune: it's more of an ambience or a performance. Both stormy and laid-back at the same time. Wonderful!

rauf said...

The header reminds me of Mark Rothko. Imagine this huge on the wall, it would make a stunning exhibit like Rothko.

coming here after a long time Ruth. Haven't seen mine in a while.

We have cyclones here followed by torrential rain. Only once our city was hit by a cyclone, it was mild they said but left devastating impact. Haven't experienced any storms, got caught in a blizzard once, not in Chennai of course, we do not know what a blizzard is.

i don't understand the quote much and i don't know what the killer on the road in the song is. Now that there are many, its not safe to walk either. i would be confused if i am asked how would i choose to die. Not on the road of course, what a waste of life would that be Ruth. Struck by a lightning on a stormy night would be a glamourous choice for me. But i've never been a chosen one Ruth.

Friko said...

I think we stop listening like that when we grow up.

Storms in the night, when we are cosy inside, and the excitement of new words and meanings, the wonder of being in itself, it all wears off with experience.

Perhaps a new life being brought into the world refreshes that sense of wonder.

Rubye Jack said...

I've never been to any shrines but I do remember sitting in a dark basement with only candle light listening to the Doors and others into the early mornings.
Thanks so much for this first thing in the morning music today.

Jean Spitzer said...

Now I have Doors songs playing in my head. There are worse things.

Thanks for the memories, yours and mine.

GailO said...

Jim Morrison is one of those poet/songwriters that I love...

I am not frightened by thunderstorms but rather enjoy them from an inside the house cozily listening kind of way.

Kathleen said...

Thank you for this! I love both clear water and summer storm!

Miss Jane said...

OH! This so makes me want to write (although I may not have time until the weekend). I have such a similar memory from childhood from my grandparent's house. Their farmhouse was on a hill and we would sleep upstairs on a grand carved four-poster bed with a lumpy feather tick and white popcorn chenille bedspread. The room had smallish dormer windows on three sides and when thunderstorms would come up ! Such a show of lightening all around and the rattling booms of thunder. The next day would always seem to be sunny and hot and humid and so green and the milk truck would come and Grandma would have the wood cook stove going with bacon and eggs. Such a rich time.

Love the idea of your banner as a Rothko. Yes! I can see it.

Vagabonde said...

I went back and read your answer to my comment. The poem I read at my daughter’s wedding by Thich Nhat Hanh is called Walking Meditation – that is the name of the poem, and you can find it here, after the poem Peace: http://www.wisdomportal.com/Peace/ThichNhatHanh-Peace.html.

I loved the video – how much James has grown already. I listened to Jim Morrison – had not heard this song in a long time. Too bad that his grave is so tight among the others in the cemetery – but there are so many others in Père Lachaise. I think that a tin roof would make the sound of the rain so romantic.

Emily Wierenga said...

sitting here listening to the thunder roll outside my window, relishing...

Mystic Meandering said...

Goosebumps Ruth - just goosebumps...

The Solitary Walker said...

Being a bit earthy here, but I've just remembered what my old music teacher used to say about the sound of the harpsichord: it's like the sound of two skeletons copulating on a tin roof, he used to say.

Ruth said...

Boots, I saw Jim Morrison's tomb, and Oscar Wilde's, but not Piaf's. Morrison was quite a legend. Imagine, just 27.

It is interesting to think about knowing each other in our teens!

Ruth said...

Thanks, Hedge. I didn't know you grew up on Lake Michigan. Somehow I didn't think you were from OK though. I believe you might be listening to thunderstorms about now. Thankfully we had one last night! Maybe my little prayer-post worked.

Ruth said...

Robert, no wonder it is atmospheric, with the rain and thunder, the electric piano sounding like rain, and also Morrison first recorded his main vocals and then whispered the lyrics over them to create the echo effect. (wiki)

Ruth said...

rauf! It's been very long since you were here. EEEEEEEE. Oh I like thinking of the header like a Rothko. Thank you. Mine was done with a typewriter and then photoshop, not painted. But you probably knew that.

I know it has been so terribly hot and rainless in Chennai, over 100°F now (30°C), and no rain until the weekend. I hope it is true that it will come. You could write a book about different storms that bring rain as you wait for it. Please stay cool, and be careful on those streets.

So lovely to have this visit from you.

Ruth said...

Friko, yes. Looking out through new eyes by way of a grandchild is definitely a way to find wonder again.

Ruth said...

Rubye, now that's atmospheric!

Ruth said...

Jean, I was too young to know what Morrison and the Doors were all about, but I knew I loved this song. I've learned a lot about bands and songs I loved decades later and been amazed.

Ruth said...

GailO, I've come to love rainstorms even more, now that we are having such extreme weather conditions. Thanks for your comment.

Ruth said...

Kathleen, water of all kinds is wonderful!

Ruth said...

Miss Jane, I was excited to read your comment and be transported, as your writing always does to me. Even your comment is a poem. I look forward to what else you will write from this memory. I kept seeing that white popcorn chenille bedspread last night when I tossed and turned.

Ruth said...

Vagabonde, thank you for finding the Thich Nhat Hanh poem you had told me about. It is painfully beautiful. And thanks so much for reading my posts.

There is nothing cozier than our cottage in the rain, curling up with a book, or a special someone.

Ruth said...

Hello and welcome, Emily. I'm glad you are a kindred thunderstorm lover.

Ruth said...

Christine, the song does that to me too. Thanks for your tingled visit.

The Unknowngnome said...

Morrison and thunderstorms, it doesn't get much better than that. A fav from way back. Thanks for the summer night.

Ruth said...

Robert, I can hear that! Your old music teacher sounds like a character.

Ruth said...

Hello, Gnome, and thank you for your visit. I guess we all have at least one summer song, and this is one of mine.

Grandmother said...

I enjoyed this whole post- the Yeats quote is something to aspire to and the Morrison song from your memory is rich. I most remember that song from the advice embedded in it for women to love their man. It impressed me each time I heard it as important life advice meant for me to take in. I'd forgotten until I heard it again. Thanks.

ds said...

Yeats and Morrison...grand combo (did you notice--of course you did--how similarly sensuous their mouths are in those photos). Also guilty of visiting the shrine in Pere Lachaise. "Saw" Colette there, too...
What a lovely picture you paint of the cottage on a steamy summer night, as the thunder rumbles here and the trees hold their breath...thank you.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Mary. The song's "you gotta love your man, take him by the hand, make him understand" is tender advice for the help women can offer men. Thanks for reading and listening.

Ruth said...

ds, yes, I did notice, and chose the photos to accentuate that trait. Thank you for noticing, too. :)

Ahh, the trees holding their breath! Thanks, poetic you.

erin said...

the image of the young you is the image of the young me is the image of all of us and none of us know very much. and yet how odd to feel so calm to be held in the silence of the storm, listening toward knowing:))

very beautiful images, ruth.

xo
erin

Ruth said...

erin, I listened to a woman on the radio talk about a flood in Rapid City, SD, a couple decades ago. She said every time it starts to rain, she stiffens. She was 7 months pregnant, and she and her mother were swept from their house. All she could think of was keeping her mother by her. They both survived, as well as her unborn babe. Imagine that babe, alone inside, in the dark, unknowing, and safe.

xoxo good to see you.

Stratoz said...

Reminds of times when I was in the greenhouse at work and rain was falling. There is something troubling about the music of the Doors. They are one of the bands I once highly favored but now do not seek out their music.

rippleeffects said...

A tiny sync: I was reading Yeat's Second Coming just yesterday.

Yes, I can definitely remember youthful days listening to contemplative music, but in a totally different context. I grew up in the British Colony of HK, urban jungle, and when I moved to Canada at 15, I've never experienced summer cottage living. But, listening to music... that I have, a lot. But instead of Jim Morrison, it's Simon and Garfunkel that really spoke to me. One of my favorites is Kathy's Song, of which your post reminds me:

'I hear the drizzle of the rain
Like a memory it falls
Soft and warm continuing
Tapping on my roof and walls.'

Thanks for the memory. ;)

Jeanie said...

I'm going to try this again! How I regret the passing of that innocence -- the innocence I see on your grandson in the other post. To simply be able to lie in bed, listen to the rain and the music and not know the hard stories behind it all... We didn't know much. True. But oh, sometimes, don't you wish you still didn't? I do. A recent suicide rocked our world. A tortured youth. And all I could remember was what I knew... and that wasn't part of the picture. Just boys, young men, friends. Yes, sometimes I wish I didn't know.

Peter Olson said...

Jim, so many "faces" in so few years!