I don’t know exactly how it is that I came to be here, sensitive as I am and prone to weeping at the drop of a hat – or the drop of a leaf. Beauty and pathos are so closely bound together. As a twelve-year old, I could barely stand to see the sunset because I wanted so deeply to melt into it. I know now that it was Home beckoning through the brilliant beauty at the dimming of the day.
Before gearing up last night for Downton’s owning/working – class drama, I “happened” to see an Emmy winning documentary, Zion Canyon Song Cycle, featuring several brilliant songwriters and musicians known collectively as Red Rock Rondo. I was deeply moved by their sensitive musicality. This is one of those groups that clearly had a Divine appointment to come together in this life, and their Zion Canyon Song Cycle is a significant contribution to the chronicle of America the Beautiful.
As I watched and listened, nearing the end there came one song like no other. Hay Colored Leaves tells the story of Louise Excell’s Utah childhood-into-adulthood and the sad changes in “her” canyon that have taken place through the years. Each time I listen to it (I bought an MP3 of the song on Amazon) I weep deeply. I weep for the perfect beauty of not just her story, so sublimely woven with strings and reeds into one graceful movement, but our story as well. I weep for Home, whatever that is, and how it was/is meant to be.
As you watch and listen, note that Louise is seated to the right of the group.
Notes about Louise’s story as well as the documentary:
When Louise Excell was growing up in Springdale, Utah, there were fruit-bearing mulberry trees lining both sides of the street all the way through town. They were full of fruit—white mulberries, black mulberries, red mulberries—which attracted huge flocks of birds (inspiring Louise to be a life-long birder). The children’s hands would turn purple with the juice from those mulberries. But one by one, the trees were cut down for development. Louise said that, sadly, there’s no place for mulberry trees in Springdale anymore. Here is Louise’s story put to song in the high-definition musical documentary, Red Rock Rondo, filmed in and around Utah’s Zion National Park for its centennial anniversary celebration in 2009. Produced by the Western Folklife Center, Red Rock Rondo has been awarded two Rocky Mountain Emmy Awards. Red Rock Rondo is Charlotte Bell, Phillip Bimstein, Hal Cannon, Harold Carr, Flavia Cerviño-Wood, and Kate MacLeod.
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