On the day of our departure from New York City, last spring- the morning was dreary and damp- our hotel was a mere half block from St. Patrick’s Cathedral- I peered out the window facing the great Rockefeller Center and could see that our block had been cordoned off by New York City Police Officers- a crowd huddled under umbrellas was forming…I heard a solitary bass drum and then the bagpipes. I motioned for my husband to come to the window. We watched as a funeral procession came solemnly down the street- right in front of our hotel. We could see the bagpipers and the drummers in dark coats with frilled shirts and dark watch plaid kilts followed by a crowd of mourners…one spot was missing in the line of bagpipers… Amazing Grace was being played solemnly and mournfully- but with an haunting beauty. Silently awed, we watched them go by, mourners oblivious to the dreary damp weather. The processional was for a fallen New York City Policeman. The Power of the Song, Amazing Grace never fails…
My husband is a guitarist, for many years he has gone to nursing homes to play for the residents. Instrumentally, he gently plays this great song- Amazing Grace. The first time he was asked to play for an Alzheimer’s Unit, he decided to do his regular list of songs…the residents sat still and unresponsive, until… softly he began to play Amazing Grace. One by one- the residents stirred, became alert and some began to sing. I want to cry every time I think of it- minds that have grown dim and dark are enlightened for a few brief moments by Amazing Grace. Down through these many years now- my husband has continued to play for these units- and every. single. time- Amazing Grace has had the same effect.
Where bitterness is shed abroad in this poor bleeding world, hardened by hatred, stumbling from blunder to blunder, the earth is punctured with even more graves this week. We grieve and we wonder how to recover common sense, much less common courtesy. As hatred rears it’s ugly head, when evil seems to triumph- when events beyond human comprehension happen- the one thing that seems to shine through the broken shards of humanity- is the beautiful stained glass of God’s Love and Amazing Grace.
I have no answers, no wisdom to bestow- all I know for sure, is that we must lift up our hands as the spires of cathedrals toward heaven– find a way to be ministers of peaceful mercy and ambassadors of His Amazing Grace. If each of us will do what we can to live together as people who have been forgiven a great debt- if we will walk gently among those who have suffered; resolve within ourselves- not to add one more ounce of suffering or cause one needless tear to flow, perhaps, the world will rest a little easier. Will you listen with me to Andre Rieu’s dramatic, awe inspiring rendition of Amazing Grace, in honor of the injured and fallen police officers in Dallas? May God have mercy on us and strengthen our resolve to bring His Grace, Mercy and Peace to a suffering world.
We’ve had carpenters and workers here off and on since before Easter- workin’ on the screen porch, we had to replace our front door and have the back deck redone. Meanwhile, Spring had a head start and was just showing out! Everything was in bud or bloomin’ – color everywhere! The Azaleas were showing out in their bright pink dresses, the Dogwoods dollin’ up in all that green and white eyelet, Daffodils had paraded around in their yellow tutus and Fern and Frond were unfurling in every shade of green…honestly it looked like a Fairy Godmother was waving her wand…then I saw a blog post…a photographer had run up on something… It made me think I needed to check around…
‘If you’re young at heart’…
My goodness! I found what I believe are Fairy doorways! The photographer had found one in a public park and here they were poppin’ up at Camellia’ Cottage! I knew I had heard rustling and hammer tapping after the carpenters had gone… I thought -surely not…and then that song kept running through my mind-
‘for as rich as you are, it’s much better by far-to be young at heart…and here is the best part- you’ll have a head start…’
This morning I found 3 more! And here IS the best part! I did some re-search y’all and I think most of them have been identified! The bright pink among the wood violets has to be Wood Nymphs! You know that yellow one belongs to the Tooth Fairy- look at that shape! I have a sneaking suspicion that violet door is Tinkerbell, what do you think? I’m thinkin’ there’s some Sugar Plum Fairies where those sugar plums are! So…that left the bright blue door and what’s behind the green door? Well I’ll tell you what I think- none other than The Fairy Godmother is behind that blue one…she would be discreet, taking a daytime nap. So,that leaves the strange green door…I think he sneaked up here from Montgomery ( probably caused all that trouble!)-escaped from the Shakespeare Theatre…and it’s none other than old Robin Goodfellow! He’s probably worn out from that Midsummer Night’s Dream! I’m sure he’s not leaving the South though…I mean, where else would he want to retire? Go ahead y’all… You never know what you’ll run up on- ‘if you are among- the very young at heart!’
Love y’all, Camellia
‘A Fairy Door in the Woods’ by www.suzie81speaks.com
It takes a lot of nerve to start a recording studio anywhere, to open up shop in Northwest Alabama along the Tennessee River amongst 4 small towns just a few hours from Nashville; but in 1959, Rick Hall started FAME Recording Studios with his buddies who ultimately opened another hit studio called Muscle Shoals Sound Studios. ‘The Shoals’ sound is as legendary as the musicians who recorded there.
Start your your journey into the heart of the Shoals sound with a trip to the Alabama Music Hall of Fame, lined with Gold Records and gawdy costumes worn by Alabama native Hank Williams, Tuskegee’s Lionel Richie, Fort Payne’s Alabama, The Commodores and Montgomery’s Nat ‘King’ Cole. Drive from there to Sheffield to the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio where the Swampers- the Fame’s original rhythm section recorded with Lynard Skynard ~who can forget his hit- ‘Sweet Home Alabama’? Then there’s the Rolling Stones and Alicia Keyes just to name a few who recorded hit music with the Swampers. Head over to Muscle Shoals to Rick Hall’s longest operating, one owner recording studio in the world, FAME Studio! Rick Hall is known as the ‘Father of the Muscle Shoals Sound’ – he recorded such great artists as Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett (Mustang Sally), Otis Redding, Duane Allman of the Allman Brothers who pitched a tent in the parking lot just to be near the recording sessions before he became famous! Known as ‘that hippie in the parking lot when record companies asked about his performance with Wilson Pickett’s rendition of ‘Hey Jude’; Paul Anka, the Osmunds, Tina Turner, the Beatles, Elton John, Ronnie Milsap, BB King, Tim McGraw…. whew the list goes on, just like the Muscle Shoals beat….and if that’s not enough?
‘The Father of the Blues’, W.C. Handy was born and raised just across the river in Florence Alabama where there is a statue in his honor, a museum and library ~ every year there is a W.C. Handy Music Festival as well.
Camellia thinks I’m gettin’ longwinded, I think we’re gonna have to have a part 2 on the Shoals! So much more to see and do…but remember this- when a good many of those musicians were down and out , thinking their careers were over- they got back their nerve and went to Muscle Shoals to find Fame! Hold it down Camellia, you’re singin’ so loud I can’t think! You might want to update your playlist folks!