It is the season of song (and mirth)

By Martin Kirby

Come for a springtime dawn walk with me at Mother’s Garden, our four hectares of ecological hues that imbue the spirit with hope, and you can listen to the birds and to me murdering some celebrated musical hits. I can’t help it. We are all emotionally wired to warble when the heart grows wings due to reasons of love, good fortune or more regular twinges of happiness and contentment. And, as I said, given the weight of the world we all need to let rip more often, chorally speaking. On the last school day before the Easter break our ten-year-old son and his classmates, watched over by their teachers Agusti and Yolanda, yomped nine kilometres along sandy tracks from town to swimming hole, to picnic, make mischief, hunt wild asparagus on the fringes of the forest and to soak up the positive energy of incredible nature. The route brought them to within several hundred metres of the farm, and their happiness rolled down the valley. The voices of young people, carefree and brimming with freedom, expounding the art that their elders forget (living in the moment) are pearls of wisdom and as compelling as birdsong. We knew when they were returning too, for now they were singing. Then through the vineyard came our son, glowing, with a fistful of asparagus and the muddle of happiness at being able to make his own way, but unsure he wanted the harmony to ever end. It is a fact, of course, that limbering up the vocal chords is good for you, physically, emotionally and psychologically. I have it on the best authority that it sharpens the mind, develops motor control and coordination and can lead to longer life, although there has been no scientific analysis of what damage my singing does to those within earshot. There are some things my mind refuses to retain, but snippets of lyrics – Puppet On A String, Eurovision Song Contest, Sandie Shaw, 1967, being a fine example – are not among them. And I am particularly susceptible when walking the land to scare the wildlife with some thigh-slapping “Oh what a beautiful morning….” or, bizarrely, “Bless her beautiful hide….” I make no apology. What is lamentable, though, is my weakness for switching in mid bar from Vera Lynn’s White Cliffs of Dover to Bing Crosby’s White Christmas. “There’ll be bluebells over the white cliffs of Dover, and sleigh bells in the snow.” Easily done. The catalyst for this happy urge, as I have said, is invariably the wide, wonderful, great outdoors which, I suspect, is a truth for most souls, had they but the time to walk in the footsteps of young people once in a while. As the Chinese proverb so wisely advises - Keep a green tree in your heart and perhaps a singing bird will come.


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