The things that trigger songs are often the straws on the camel’s back that mark the massive pressure of a conglomeration of events and things that are witnessed. In the last few weeks I kayaked lake Ontario in choppy waves (my brother made his own kayak-astonishingly beautiful), I toted baggage, I spoke in depth with strangers on trains and learned the details of lives that are both extremely foreign to me in a multitude of ways and oddly familiar, and I delved into the graceful grind of daily life in my homeland mountains of Quebec.
One of the most astounding things that has happened for me in the last few weeks was atop one of those mountains. My mom and my dear friend Jess Bromby and I did a few hour hike to the top of Sutton Mountain (to Round top) last Friday. Upon reaching the heights that are comprised of dwarfed pine trees and barren exposed stone we sat to eat our highly deserved lunches. There were a sprinkling of other people; three young Quebecers lying in the sunlight and three men delving into their lunches. Jess and I, who have both traveled though Turkey, were quite sure that these men were speaking Turkish. Thanks to a piece of the guard rail, at the edge of the cliff that we were upon, nearly hitting one of the men, my mother, who is a phenomenal conversation invoker, was able to begin an interaction with them. It began with us all sharing our lunches. Before long we were sharing mystical poetry that referenced the glory of nature as we peered to the vast horizons. One of the men was from Azerbaijan, one was from Germany, and one was from Iran. They had been speaking Turkish together as it was a shared and fluid language for all three of them. We discussed our shared love of Turkey, the pain of politics’ inherent abrasion, the work of Persian poet Rumi, the overlapping ground of all the major religions, the pain that results from identifying “God” as a separate entity, and how tiny we are relative to the massive expanse of the universe. Before too long the other people on the mountaintop had vanished and it was just the six of us. As soon as they found out that I am a singer they begged me to sing for them. I told them that I would only sing if everyone else shared something as well. They agreed. Thus, I sang for them a Turkish Illahi. One of them grabbed a water bottle and played it as a dumbek while my mother and another danced. Jess sang a beautiful Irish folk song. One of the other shared a poem. We then all parted ways for the rest of our hikes astonished by the depth and joy that had resulted from this chance meeting. It is these unidentifiably astounding encounters that are the food for song. Upon spending the next day working on music my brain was a muddle of the crises in the world that tug at my thoughts and the beauty that can result surprising places. How does one word these things seamlessly?