Last night the first rainfall of autumn poured down as two friends and I made our way to the nearby town of Jacksonville, Oregon, intending (at yet another birthday celebration) to have dinner and hear the concert presented by the amazing ten-man singing group, Straight No Chaser, on the outdoor stage of the Peter Britt Music Festival. The rain sluiced its mighty way over us until we arrived at the amphitheatre, whereupon a brilliant rainbow arced her way across the heavens, halting the rain and bestowing us with warm evening air, a swimming quarter moon, achingly bright stars, a crowd of ecstatic fans, and the singers themselves, who used their voices, skills, charms, and harmonies to make us laugh, dance, and wonder, “How do they do that?”
Last night’s rain was no gentle, merciful dew-dropping mystery, but a pelting deluge – one weather reporter described it as a November rain coming, Surprise!, in mid-September – announcing the arrival of a deep turning of the year. I sometimes see the earth and her relationship to the sun as if the two of them were tried and true lovers abiding by some tidal ebb and flow of closeness and then separation, doubly complex because of the earth’s hemispheres. She turns part of her beautiful body toward the loving force of the sun for half of the year, then away to rest and sleep, while the part that has been away begins to nestle closer to the beloved’s radiance. And all the while there is music. During this time when summer’s glory begins to fall away, exquisite September sings earth songs. They seem to yearn equally for the languorous lost days of smelting August heat and for rich rain and wild winds. As one of earth’s humans, I love this time of equal yearning for what is past and what is to come, and feeling that I participate in this magnificent love affair with the sun. I even imagine I can hear the farewell songs the sun pours out to his precious love when the northern half of the earth turns away from that all-encompassing embrace and slowly but surely closes in upon herself and prepares to rest. Meanwhile friends in the southern hemisphere begin to hear the rapturous welcome music of spring and the return of the sun. Heavenly music indeed.