We all feel it, that all too brief lull between holidays. Our Thanksgiving turkey is now a challenge we serve as hash, or homemade pot pies, or even altered beyond recognition into mouth-watering gumbo. The family who traveled for hours to visit has gone home, and our houses are dusty around the edges, with new scratches on woodwork from terrorist toddlers on tricycles or family puppies still in training. The resident dog wonders where all his friends disappeared to, and not even a soft pillow and the television remote can replace the joy of running in circles for hours with Australian shepherd and shih tzu cousins.
I’m completely amazed at how many river songs there are. Obviously I’m obsessed. One of my all-time favorites is When I Went Down to the River to Pray, sung by Alison Krauss in the film O Brother, Where Art Thou? (One of my favorite movies.) The sweet purity of her voice, and the images of people in white walking down to the river is one of those film moments that replays at will in my head whenever I hear the song.
But today another river song occurred to me when I sat down to write about the terrific book club shown here that interviewed me by telephone a few nights ago. Shall We Gather by the River?
After writing about flowing rivers in my last post, I woke up this morning singing River, by Bill Staines. When my children were young we spent weeks at a family camp in Highlands, North Carolina. And every summer, we sang:
River, take me along in your sunshine, sing me a song
Ever moving and winding and free
You rolling old river
You changing old river
Let’s you and me river, run down to the sea
You can see the songwriter himself perform River here, on YouTube. I love everything about this song, but let’s hope I don’t burst into Old Man River in the next few days, a subject I covered thoroughly in Iron Lace and Rising Tides.
Years ago, in another life, I played the piano for a fellow music student who performed a catchy art song that began with the question in my title. The answer, by the way, was: “I’m gonna stand on the banks and watch the crawfish die, oh babe,” an image I didn’t fully understand until I moved to Louisiana years later.
I’ll confess I had no intention of having a blog on this website. From the beginning of blogging fever I was convinced it was a bad idea for someone who already makes a living with words. Why put more of mine out there? After all, most of you reading this also read my novels. And those should tell you everything about me, or at least they should if you read enough of them. (And, of course, you need to.)