Tuesday, October 21, 2008

the miracle cure

Not every day on the farm is good, some days are just awful. Yesterday was one of those days. A day where you start off the morning sleeping in by accident, and so you have to scramble to get to work on time. And then the office seems to bring nothing but stress and concern and hours go by three times as slow for you as they go for everyone else. When you leave for the day you could just collapse in your car, but you know collapsing would be foolish because as soon as you pull into your driveway there is hay and water to haul, chickens to feed, and dogs that need a walk.

Yesterday was one of those days. It sucked. But I'm not telling you this for compassion. I'm telling you this because I think the miracle cure for the worst days is resting above my mantle. I can spend my daylight hours making every mistake a girl can make, get admonished, and have a bitch of a cold...but if I can pull that dulcimer off the mantle and take three long breathes before I play that sweet music I will be healed up. I think anything short of chronic disease and a broken heart can be sewn up by the drone of a dulcimer.

The dulcimer isn't a cool thing for a twenty-something to play, I get that. And like other mountain instruments the music they make can almost seem hokey out of context. But the context for slow fiddle songs and dulcimer music is a place, not a circumstance. And so it's hard to get the people who make fun of me to understand. They have never laid under the stars in the peak of a southern mountain summer. They don't know how tired you can be after a twelve-mile hike in 100% humidity. They don't know how that music matched with a moving stream, or a thunderstorm sounds, or how it can make the blood-flow in your own weary body change paces.

They don't know because they haven't been there. So all they think of is stereotypes, and make some off-color hillbilly joke and I laugh with them to be polite. But for the most part I feel a little sad they can't know the origins, or feel that soft grass, or smell woodmoke when they hear that music. Not an elitist pity, but a genuine sadness. I feel blessed that I've learned how to return to it, and so when I leave the office feeling 3-feet tall - I come home, light a fire in the fireplace, feed my flock, pet my kind dogs and play that old dulcimer till sad things in the world melt away somewhere in the D chords.

Here's a dulcimer song I wrote about Cade's Cove in Tennessee, or more precisely, about what it feels to sit by a fire after a day in the Cove. Besides mountain dulcimer, there is a drum, the Irish whistle and some shakers. Simple music. But when you listen to it, imagine being very tired, stretching on your back on cool blades of grass of the south, somewhere where the lines of black rolling mountaintops meet navy blue sky, and you'll get it. Of course you'll get it.

19 Comments:

Blogger Darx said...

Oooh, relaxing. Thank you for sharing your music.

October 21, 2008 at 11:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cades Cove! I've been there. I didn't have the link for the music, but I can just think, and I hear the music. Is that where you made your life choice? I made one too: to become a nature artist. I'm still working toward that goal, but I have never forgotten that place!

October 21, 2008 at 12:36 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

I think Tennessee is what made me become a homesteaders, yes. Cade's Cove was the safest I ever felt in a place.

October 21, 2008 at 1:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree about music being about a place moreso than any other factor. I fiddle, and yet sitting in the back bedroom of my apartment in front of my desk, looking out over a parking lot and other people crammed eight homes to a building in no way brings out the soul of what I play. My friends still look at me with bemusement when I talk about playing, and while I know the fiddle isn't for everyone, I wonder if they know what they're missing.

October 21, 2008 at 3:38 PM  
Blogger sara amber said...

jenna, you wrote that?? how did you put all the parts together?

(and i totally get it.)

October 21, 2008 at 7:03 PM  
Blogger bellananda said...

i love it! makes me want to go camping. or canoeing. and sit next to a lovely fire afterward. i love that you included the birdsongs in your music -- very nice!

October 21, 2008 at 9:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautiful music. Thank you for sharing it.

October 21, 2008 at 11:15 PM  
Blogger Keeper of Little Sweetie said...

hi,
I'm curious-- do you play the other instruments that are in this piece as well? Nice tunes.
Hope the rest of your week goes well. :)
Lynnanne

October 21, 2008 at 11:17 PM  
Blogger TheMusingMommy said...

Jenna ~ Beautiful. So relaxing...What a treat at the end of a crazy day!

Thanks for sharing...

NR

October 22, 2008 at 1:08 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

I recorded all the parts with my various instruments and put it together with garage band, a program on macs for not-so-professional recording. It was all dne sitting in front of my computer.

October 22, 2008 at 6:11 AM  
Blogger nefaeria said...

Very pretty tune, and the dulcimer is a beautiful instrument!

SlĂ inte!

Laurel

October 22, 2008 at 7:17 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

also sara, I have no idea how to write music. I have no idea what key that is in even. I just recorded a drumbeat for time, and then played something on the dulcimer over it, and then added the whistle. It was an impromtu jam really? I have no idea how to compose.

October 22, 2008 at 8:09 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

all instruments are played by me. The loons/thunder are played by recordings on garage band.

October 22, 2008 at 8:18 AM  
Blogger Mare said...

I LOVED your music! Thank you for sharing...I also love the sound of a dulcimer. I never learned how to play an instrument, but the feeling you describe that you get when you sit down with your instrument is much like how i feel after a long hard day when i sit on the couch with my dogs and work with my fiber and crochet or knit something. It is so satisfying and so much more than just the act. It is a deep connection with...the past? Tradition? My Grandmother and all other women who do and have done this before me...

October 22, 2008 at 9:19 AM  
Anonymous Sanna said...

i got chills and then tears in my eyes listening to the music and then reading Mare's comment.
hats off, all around.

October 22, 2008 at 5:06 PM  
Anonymous Julie said...

During my first year of college, the power went out during a Physics class. The class was held in the evenings and it was dark out. Our professor asked us to stay in case the lights came back on. He ran out to his car and grabbed his dulcimer. The power never did come back on that night but many of us sat there for hours while he played. I credit that night for starting me on my career path. (Physics, not the dulcimer - although I'd love to learn)

October 23, 2008 at 11:24 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Julie, the dulcimer is so easy to learn it's ridiculous. I promise.

October 23, 2008 at 3:31 PM  
Blogger Diana said...

Dearest Jenna,
Is there ANY creative thing you can't do? Just wonderful,
Di

October 24, 2008 at 7:51 PM  
Blogger Grant Wagner said...

That truely does feel like home. I really need to make a trip back out to That area sometime soon. I even just looked at expedia to do it this weekend only to find it was over a $1K a person.

October 22, 2009 at 1:36 PM  

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