When I was 13 or so my brother brought home a John Denver album called Aerie. It had pictures of John on the front and back, with an eagle perched on a heavy leather glove on John's arm, while a round, orange, setting sun colored the scene sepia.
Birds of prey thrill nature-loving me, the way they seem so confident, powerful, graceful. They don't do all the flapping that a crow will do, and they don't seem unsteady and wobbly in flight the way vultures do. Grandeur and capable efficiency mark their movements. They perch with ease. They sore with speed and insouciance. A thing of awesome beauty it is to watch an eagle or osprey swoop upon a river or lake and with its massive talons pluck a fish right out of the water, then push hard against air with long, wide wings, and fly victoriously to its perch.
Naturally the photos on my brother's album garnered more than just a passing glance. The bait was set. I was hooked. I investigated.
After seeing and hearing that record album which showcased one of my favorite animal species, I made it a point to check out LPs the next time I went to the store. I found Rocky Mountain High. Here was that little, bespectacled, blonde guy again, jumping on rocks across a swift river this time, in hiking clothes. I bought the record. I adored the nature songs. I listened and sang, listened and sang every day after school.
That purchase led to the purchase, eventually, of every record John Denver made, but one. I bought many of the songbooks, too, and my mom bought me a guitar so I could learn to play the songs. Which I did. Not very well, but enough to play along, sing along, and feel a part of the music.
My guitar has been silent for quite a while, though carefully stored right here where I can keep an eye on it. Occasionally, when everyone is out of the house except me, I'll get it out, play a little, and remember. When I had little kids around it was hard to spend the solitary time I desired in playing, and besides, the kids were far more fascinating that my feeble guitar attempts. Gradually the guitar took a back seat to the all important, enjoyable, mommy-things which plopped down in the front seat of my life.
Imagine my delight when Cassie became interested in playing my 6-stringed instrument. I handed her my guitar how-to lesson books, and the guitar, along with my blessing. When she opened the case there was that intoxicating smell, that guitar and case smell which I am at a loss to describe. Starting at the beginning, and working her way through the books have given Cassie the satisfaction of learning and playing. Her excitement at each interval of success makes me smile. A much better player than I am, is she.
My old friend and my young daughter have found one another.
Circle of life.
Update: This is for Liz and her 13 year old son, JD fans through and through! This is Cassie, Caroline, and me, in Juneau, Alaska, 2004. I HAD to have our picture taken by this sign, for JD sake. We ate at the restaurant there and had the best fish ever, delicious fresh homemade bread, and everything else was scrumptious. Our waiter was hilarious, had us laughing the whole time. Good memories!
"It would hold 8 kids and four hound dogs and the piggy we stole from the shed.
Didn't get much sleep, but we had a lot of fun on Grandma's Feather Bed!"