Clay

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.

AmericanRevolution

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

tigereyespider

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,
Clay.

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

The Inner Garden: Father’s Day Edition

Baby Lynn at pianoYears ago, in the 1990’s, I created my first video entitled The Inner Garden. In those days, it took over 20 hours to render a small low resolution video in Adobe Premiere. Nevertheless, I wrote, filmed and edited a series of short stories about making a garden into a 20 minute film, including reminiscences about childhood garden experiences. This week, I thought of one of the scenes – Planting Onions: Sage Advice – when considering Father’s Day. My father passed away several years ago and my best memories of him are about sharing music and gardening. He was my first music teacher, teaching me the mysteries of notes on the piano and leading family music sessions of everything from brass choirs for church to jazzy jam sessions.

Even though the resolution is low, I hope you enjoy this little video of family garden memories from my younger self  🙂  Happy Father’s Day to all fathers everywhere – be sure to take time to share yourself with your children – it will build a lifetime of  memories.

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

 

Blossom by blossom

Blossom by blossom the spring begins. ~ Algernon Charles Swinburne

While you read and look, I invite you to listen to Craig B. Dobbins’ Appalachian Lullaby recorded by my husband Bill Purse for an upcoming album.

This was a year when winter seemed longer and gloomier than usual. The soft browns and grays of the garden were lovely in their own quiet way but I longed for color, for signs of new life. foggygarden

The sky obliged with  color. MarchSunrise

And then the first signs of new life emerged. Along with the Tommy crocus and snow drops, the hellebores began blooming in pink and white and deep purple while the wine red stalks of peonies rose up from the ground. (Click on any photo in the mosaic to see a larger image)

 

For the first time in years, the forsythia bloomed profusely followed by the daffodils and mid-spring bulbs.

 

Gray clouds carrying rain became more welcome as they hurried along the greening of the woods and garden.

Spring drew on…and a greenness grew over those brown beds, which, freshening daily, suggested the thought that Hope traversed them at night, and left each morning brighter traces of her steps.  ~Charlotte Brontë

 

Along with the rain and green growth came the weeds. My niece Madison showed up to help me sort out the garden beds; what a pleasant talk we had in the spring sunshine. madison

As the rain and sunshine dance through the garden, it has exploded with color and scent. The shrubs and trees are blooming while a few tulips and daffodils linger.

 

Each morning, the intoxicating scent of lilies of the valley greet me as I step out my front door; the wild violets tucked in among them only increase their charm.

 

Now the garden is full to overflowing with lush textures and colors. Yesterday I heard the wood thrush singing and a pair of robins are nesting nearby where I can sometimes catch a glimpse of a tiny blue egg.

 

Angel and I walk the paths through the garden each day, reveling in every new blossom and scent.

angelMay

To understand the journey you have to do the walking. ~Bryant McGill

upstepsMay

Thank you for accompanying me on this journey around the garden and through the season. May you enjoy a spring rich with color and life.

To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter… to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird’s nest or a wildflower in spring – these are some of the rewards of the simple life. ~John Burroughs

All images and text ©2019 by Lynn Emberg Purse except as noted.

Circles of Light

Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness. ~Anne Frank

The early mornings are dark now, the light is late to arrive. It is the shortest day of the year here in the northern hemisphere, the solstice that marks the turn to longer days of light. (The word “solstice” comes from the Latin solstitium meaning “sun stands still”) Humans have long celebrated that moment as we turn from dark to light by lighting candles, burning logs, bringing evergreens into our homes, reminding ourselves that the days will grow longer. solsticesunset8

A few years ago, I took a class in creating mandalas, a circle that encloses the expression of our inner selves. The circle is an ancient symbol – the circle of life, the circle of a wedding ring, the circle of councils and celebrations. Some of the mandalas we created in that class were ephemeral, fashioned from found objects in nature. This one of ferns and moss reminds me of a Christmas wreath. intothemoss

At some point during the course, as I set the point of the drafting compass to paper, I suddenly realized that I had created my lower garden as a mandala without realizing it. I had found the center point of the garden plot and pounded a stake into it, tied a rope to it and let it guide me as I walked in concentric circles around it, creating planting beds and paths by dragging a hoe on the ground through the loose dirt.

mid-April

Circle Garden in mid-April

Walking these circular paths in the garden in any season is like tracing the steps of a labyrinth and always puts me in harmony with the natural world. cherryaftersnow

My favorite drawing on paper, however, expresses my love for the earth and my hope for peace and light for the world. Ironically, I discovered that when drawing the wings, the light was made more powerful by drawing shadows for contrast and depth. And so life goes, shadow and light, circles and seasons, sorrows and joys, through the great round of life. On this day and in this season, my wish for each of you  is that the light grows brighter both in your world and in your heart, from the inside to the outside and back again.

wings_tree_mandala copy

In winter, the stars seem to have rekindled their fires, the moon achieves a fuller triumph, and the heavens wear a look of a more exalted simplicity. ~ John Burroughs

All text and images ©2018 Lynn Emberg Purse except where noted.

Here’s a musical view of the winter solstice.

Earth Day, Watershed Edition

I remember the first Earth Day as a teenager – I loved the idea then and all of these years later, it still seems a special day to celebrate. As I grow with my garden, I realize that creating a healthy place for all flora and fauna to flourish is my first ideal and goal. Lately, my time has been caught up in finishing the school semester, guiding my ensemble through its spring concert and tending my garden. Bill, my husband and creative partner, has been editing and mixing the studio recording of Watershed for cello and orchestra that was premiered in late February. The CD containing the piece will be released in late fall on Three Oranges Recordings but we are far enough in the mixing process to share a few of the highlights here in this montage, thanks to Bill’s talents and generosity. (see an earlier Watershed post here).

Adam Liu, the cellist for whom the piece was written, turned in a stunning and passionate performance and our Duquesne University Orchestra, inspired by masterful conductor Daniel Meyer, was at their best. How lucky can a composer be when the artists that bring a piece to life give their creative all? Adam began his musical career playing the erhu, a Chinese stringed instrument, and suggested that he play the second movement, Sunrise on Still Water, on the erhu rather than the cello. I agreed and I love the sound – it shimmers with unearthly beauty. I hope you enjoy this short montage of highlights from the 20 minute piece.

Spring is tentatively here, with mild days alternating with snowy winter days. The weeping cherry tree is in full bloom, but ironically its cultivar name ‘Snow Fountain’ became a reality when an overnight storm coated the blossoms with white snow.

The daffodils are coming into season, even as the early small bulbs continue to bloom.

The hellebores have shrugged off the snow and cold and continue to bloom in soft pastel shades.

Wherever you are, I hope spring is coming your way and your world is filled with color and beauty. And may every day become “earth day” in our hearts and minds.