Even though the unseasonably warm weather this spring makes me worry that another freak snow (we had one in October which felled tree branches) or freeze might be disastrous to the fruit trees, I must admit I love the extra months of warmth! Spring, with all of its fresh energy is one of my favorite seasons. It gets me back outdoors, biking, kayaking, digging in my garden, breathing fresh air and moist soil.
In honor of springtime beauty, here's a section of Aaron Copland's Appalachian Spring. Composed at the request of Martha Graham, the well-known choreographer, Copland did not have a title for the piece when he was writing it. According to WIkipedia, Graham suggested a phrase from a poem by Hart Crane entitled The Dance.
O Appalachian Spring! I gained the ledge;
Steep, inaccessible smile that eastward bends
And northward reaches in that violet wedge
Although the spring mentioned in the poem is actually a spring of water, the poem does describe a "journey to meet the springtime." Throughout the suite, one can hear variations from Simple Gifts, a Shaker melody written by Joseph Elder. I remember learning this as a Girl Scout many years ago. The words describe the joy found in a life of simplicity, finding one's place in the world and in one's community.
'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gain'd,
To bow and to bend we shan't be asham'd,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come 'round right.
The lyricism of the music and its decidedly American roots have made it a well-loved and familiar piece of concert repertoire. The version above is performed by The Seattle Symphony.