There was a song my grandmother sang. It talks about that sweet-spot of midday when light floods your pores and warms your eyelids. The kind of sunshine you only appreciate in the foothills. Now, I understand progressions and chords. The words carry meaning, weighted like a toddler on your chest as you rock. I sense tone and timbre. Analyze the rise and fall, the tension created by dissonance. The peace of resolution. But when she sang, it was just another foothill song.
I wonder what life was like for the Appalachian lady, loaded with a passel of grimy cheeks and wooden crates of greens. I bet she ate her share of turnip greens. I’ve only ever eaten them for luck and good fortune when old years turn over new leaves. Did she sing to pass the time? Or was her time used up by life—the kind I’ll never experience. I sing to pass the time. Sometimes I feel as if boredom is a side effect of a societal advancement the Appalachian lady had no knowledge of. Isn’t it funny how you can play an integral part of evolution without believing in its existence?
I sing for other reasons. He plays the banjo. I feel as if there is some deep significance in the way he improvises to melodies I learned before I knew. Him. Us. Favorite songs. We were mountain climbers once—climbing different peaks, of course. Now, we share music in the foothills and realize it sounds somehow better. Maybe the improvement can be chalked up to fate. Maybe there’s some scientific answer, taking into account trajectory, reverberations, and things like that. What I do know is this: Echoes are hollow pretenders of the past. This is no echo.
I play the violin. The old timers call it a fiddle, but to me, they’re one in the same. Now, neither of them—the violin, the fiddle—seems so special anymore. My fingers are faster than his. If I’m honest, I’m a better string player than he is. If I’m honest, he could best me any time he wanted.
Views and voices are clear on the mountain. I know—I’ve hiked them before, met adventurers with refrigerator lists of mountains to climb. I understand now how wanderlust runs through veins but soothes in a melody. The view from the top alters the perception of soil below. In my experience, the ground in the foothills is fertile. Just ask the Appalachian lady how her turnips grew.