Feeling great today. Maybe because of the crocuses poking through, the sun streaming down, or the fact that one more week of grading is all that stands between me and a month off work. I got out for long walks, a run, and a swim the last few days, and am waving goodbye to the apathy of last week.
I have to be a little bit morbid though because Rita MacNeil died this morning. One of my "comfort" singers, I have listened to so many of her songs over the years, and she's one of the handful of singers I've seen in concert. "Working Man" is her anthem, but I have a soft spot for plenty of her other songs as well. Once, new to Ontario and missing the East coast with a ferocity I never anticipated, I listened to "Steal Me Away,"
and was so moved, I wrote her a little note thanking her. She wrote back. By hand. On flowered notepaper. Thanking me for enjoying, for listening, for sharing. I thought then, how lovely. But I don't think lovely is right. It was just Rita. Just who she is.
It was my dear friend Carla who introduced me to the music of Rita MacNeil. "She has the voice of an angel," she told me, dancing gently to "Call Me and I'll Be There" in her sunlit, whitewashed apartment in downtown Halfax. Ever sentimental, Carla would well up in tears at the haunting opening vocals of "Working Man" - especially when sung harmonically by Men of the Deep. Through Carla, I came to know Rita and Big Pond (a place Carla and I went on an ill-conceived road trip where we forgot to book accommodations and ended up sleeping in her Saturn, feeling like pathetic groupies) and though I came to appreciate Rita for myself, her music is always inextricably tied up with good memories of Nova Scotia and lupins and friendship.
I can't bring myself to believe in Heaven, but just for today, I choose to believe it exists. In it, I see Rita, singing, and Carla, dancing.
The lupins are dead now
But they did bloom well now...
And please, God, if time's kind
And there's still a Big Pond
I'd love to go back there again.