This morning, the Independence Day holiday in the United States, was quiet, serene, and full of life. As I walked through the garden soon after dawn, there was no noise from traffic, no conversations trailing from the homes of neighbors. Angel and I moved through the flowers, listening to bird song and witnessing the flight of butterflies and bees. Such an oasis of quiet in an otherwise noisy holiday punctuated by fireworks and noisemakers. I noted the rich beautiful blossoms of daylily (Hemerocallis) ‘American Revolution’ – striking in its dark color and defined form still dotted with  morning dew.


Daylily ‘Tiger Eye Spider’ looked like a silent explosion of color, a floral fireworks fitting to the day.


In a few weeks, we will submit the final mixes of my CD Watershed for duplication, with a scheduled fall release. While listening to Bill editing the music today, it felt right to share a preview of the third movement of one of the pieces on the CD, Sketches of America. In a time of tumult in our country, I am reminded of the main theme of this piece, the melody of “America the Beautiful” and how I love the beauty of this country and its highest ideals.

Sketches of America was inspired by my travels through the American landscape as well as an exploration of uniquely American musical forms, specifically minimalism and the blues. The orchestral piece has three main sections and features solo trumpet and trombone in various ways.  The final section is a chorale adapted from a solo song that I wrote entitled Clay. Struggling to create a new garden on solid clay soil, I responded by writing an ode to clay, exploring its dual nature and potential symbolism for life.

Clay, so full of life to be released
through fork and spade and shredded leaf,
the solid ground beneath our feet,

Trumpeter Sean Jones and trombonist Ed Kocher soar in a beautiful and poignant manner in this section. The hymn like song Clay seemed a fitting end for “Sketches of America,” the solid ground beneath our feet and a reminder of the melody of America the Beautiful. I dedicated this piece to my father, whose birthday was on the 4th of July. Enjoy.

Special thanks to Bill Purse, sound engineer and producer extraordinaire, and Jim Cunningham of WQED-FM for sharing the live concert recording of Sketches of America as broadcast on WQED-FM.

All music, text, and images ©2019 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved

31 thoughts on “Clay

  1. Without reading your text, I would have picked up on the feeling, the tone of honoring the country. These days it’s not a common thing to see or hear. Beautiful work, Lynn! (And such a beautiful walk through your garden, in words and images – the quiet, those day lilies oh!!).

    • Thank you, colonialist. Definitely a wistful tone (you are a keen listener) written before the DT era but perhaps anticipating it. However, it was more about the ecological foot dragging we have in celebrating and protecting the natural beauty and ecosystems within our borders and the deep connection that I feel with the land – sadly, that foot dragging is deeply amplified in our current era.

  2. Lynn, this is all so BEAUTIFUL; your words, the photos of flowers, and your music! I’m so proud to call you a friend!

  3. We were thinking of you all in the US on the 4th of July. Wishing your country well – may it keep to it’s ‘high ideals’. Lovely music so very fitting. I’ve gardened on clay soil in the past. It was hard work getting going at first but very fertile after all the effort.

  4. Thanks for letting us hear that moving excerpt.

    Like your father, I was born on the Fourth of July.

    A few minutes ago, just as I got to your words about “an otherwise noisy holiday punctuated by fireworks,” fireworks went off somewhere in my neighborhood.

    • Several synchronicities there, Steve – I hope you had a happy birthday! We made plenty of holiday noise in younger years, as the national holiday was amplified by my father’s birthday celebrations.

  5. Your daylilies are extraordinarily beautiful. I remember your post showcasing many of them, all in glorious colours. Mine has flowered this year for the first time in three years and has lots of flowers, but pale in comparison. I like the darker shades best.

    • Thank you, Jude; I love the dark colors! We have had torrential rain here this season and daylilies love water, so they are happier than usual. I do have a post planned that is mostly pink flowers, so I’m happy with anything this pretty. 🙂

  6. Beautiful and lovely…such depth in your art, all of it, Lynn…so layered, gentle, intellectually both inviting and piercing, enlightening, and strong. Thank you.

  7. The first image is glorious!!!! …. and I love the recording. Very much a feeling of Americana. Thank you for sharing … and cheers to your work. Happy Fourth!

  8. Thanks Lynn for reminding us of the beauty in this country when so much that is ugly is being thrust upon us from so many directions! It is indeed a beautiful country with strong ideals. Your garden and music are a great reminder. Happy 4th! Graham

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