The universe is a mysterious place. Whether you want to believe in God or a higher power, there is a force greater than ourselves. There have been too many instances in my life where this force reveals itself – where I have thought of people I hadn’t heard from in years and sometimes even decades, and suddenly they cross my path. They appear physically in my presence, via an email or a phone call out of the blue. It is uncanny and always a magical moment when it happens.
A few weeks ago, I posted one of my aurora pictures to a website where people were sharing themselves singing and making music in this time of pandemic. It was suggested to me that I should make a video of my photos and put them to music. A little beyond my skill level, but not an impossibility. I pondered what music I would use and then worried about copyright and then let the thought go. When I was viewing the same website a few days later, a lady posted a video of her brother singing in preparation for a barbershop chorus competition which would have been coming up but, of course, shelved due to Covid-19. My dad had been in a barbershop chorus in Dartmouth, N.S. many years ago with his best friend Chris. It dawned on me that I had an old cassette tape of my dad singing with the chorus. My dad passed in 1994 and I hadn’t thought about that tape in many years. I managed to track down the tape fairly easily considering how much memorabilia one collects over the course of time and even found an old cassette player out in the garage. I thought that it might be very poignant to set one of these songs to a collection of my aurora photos. I wasn’t prepared for the gut wrenching grief that it brought to me. In a chorus of many, my father did not sing a solo and yet my heart knew his voice was there. My ears could not pick him out of the crowd, my heart did so easily. I used my cell phone to record the songs from the cassette. And I wept. Then I put it all aside and thought one day…but not this day…I would continue with the project. I knew that it would require me to be able to make a digitized copy of the cassette in order for it to be listened to with any sort of quality and I would need to wait until social distancing rules relaxed before I could go in search of those kinds of services. In thinking of my father, I also thought about his friend who sang with him. Him and his wife, Isabel, were regular visitors to our home and I to theirs. They were a wonderful part of my childhood and I wondered how they were getting on. I wondered about their daughter whom I had tracked down on Facebook and who in turn had reconnected me to her parents. She had left Facebook, as people do, and then contact was gone. I hadn’t seen her brother on Facebook for some time either. We forget to engage in the time honoured traditions of exchanging phone numbers and physical addresses or even email because social media is conveniently there. But when it’s not…social contact ends swiftly and surely and we are lost to each other again. But this family was in my heart and my mind that day and over the days to come, intertwined with so many memories of my dad.
Fast forward to today. My cell phone rang in the early afternoon. This is quite an anomaly in my world. Few people have my number and those that do, usually text. I hate talking on a cellphone. My ear has a tendency to cut people off and the cell service is usually so bad in my small town that I spend most of the time wondering if the call has been dropped…and then it is. I still have a landline, but it doesn’t get used much either. So, the fact that I looked at my cell phone to see an incoming call from Isabel, the lady whom I had been thinking about for several days and whom I had not spoken to in many years was quite startling to say the least. It baffled me as to how she even had my cell number and I didn’t think to ask. The reason for her call really surprised me. Calls out of the blue often accompany bad news. Not this call. It would seem that her son in Texas had become aware of my photography and wanted to see some of my pictures so he had asked her to contact me a week or so ago. It would have been right about the time I was listening to the songs on my dad’s tape. For all of this to come to pass at this particular point in time is astounding to me. It gives me absolute goosebumps. At 90 years of age and married 71 years, this lady has all the faculties God gave her and we had a lovely visit. There is nothing quite like connecting with an old friend. I do not doubt the universe had been listening…perhaps our heart strings send out a melody across time and space. Without waxing philosophical, I do not pretend to understand the magic, but magic it is. I simply accept these gifts as exactly that…a gift. One which I accepted today with much delight.
Shakespeare wrote “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy” (which, in all honesty, I learned from Star Trek and not my English class in High School). When I stand with my tripod on a lonely strip of farm road while the Lady dances and the coyotes howl, or I gaze up into the milky way, or trace the dots to pick out constellations in the night sky, I marvel at our place in the universe. They are gifts we see simply by opening our eyes. It might take a drive away from the city lights and it might mean missing a little sleep, but wonder awaits us if we take the initiative to simply look. Those sights are beyond treasures and I love that I can capture a slice of nature’s essence to share with those who cannot see for themselves. In these times of virus and fear, Mother Nature is still providing us with awe and we can still soak it in keeping socially distant in our own backyard or on an isolated country road.
Today I feel very blessed which seems appropriate to the season. I wish you all to stay well and safe in the midst of this new normal and always, always look up…there are wonders to behold! And always answer your phone, you never know what message you might be getting from the universe.