On this bright May morning, I find myself reflecting on so many different things while feeling grateful the days are gradually getting longer.
I’ve started to learn more about the birds that wake me earlier and earlier each morning while they inhabit my farm in tree, bush and grass, some of them just stopping by on their migration route. I’ve also resumed a considerable tree planting program, adding native oak, sycamore, maple, as well as various spruce, pine and cedar.
All of this I do while reflecting on the power of the creative energy of spring, a season which has inspired many over the path of history to write their poems, and create their songs and dances to mark this special time of the year. I’ve done a lot of my own writing in the spring, in fact it was partly a spring carol that found its way into “The Mummers’ Dance” in 1997.
Historically, much spring work was done communally, especially when there was no radio, TV or internet. People also looked to their own innate creativity to entertain each other and to reflect the world around them, particularly during the land-based calendar of planting, or putting cattle out to pasture.
With that in mind, in amongst the birds and the bees I thought we would share some May-related thoughts and assemble another playlist of music. It includes some of my own songs, as well as others which have simply been inspired by this time of year.
I have often taken the month of May to travel, frequently for research. I think of my glorious stay on the Greek island of Chios at the citrus farm Perleas, waking up to the view of the ancient hills from my garden cottage and smelling the intoxicating aroma of the orange blossoms as I made my way through the orchard each evening.
I also recall visiting the otherworld landscape in Cappadocia, Turkey for the Cappadox Festival and culinary feast where our fiddler friend Hugh Marsh was performing. At times, I think of Tuscany with the hills now green but soon to be ochre, with the road edges full of poppies, every vista a painting.
One of my other favourite May memories dates back to 1997 when we were recording The Book of Secrets at Real World Studios in late April and into May. I had heard about the May Day activities in Padstow, with its hobby horses, known as the ‘Obby ‘Osses’, which are paraded around the village all day and all night while the locals sing their May Day carol (the morning and evening verses!) I made arrangements to drive down to Cornwall from Wiltshire to attend this annual gathering, taking a stroll along the waterfront before joining the fray as the two processions wandered about, followed by their ‘Obby ‘Osses’.
We were able to locate a 1932 version of this tradition for those of you who are interested.
We have also discovered an Italian Celtic website, which has captured the festival and includes a 1951 version, as well as one with English folk singer Maddy Prior, who was an early inspiration to me.
I’ve also had occasion recently to reflect on the trajectory of my career and just how many of you have travelled along with me on this journey ever since I was promoting my concerts here in Canada and gathering names for our mailing list.
I think one of the earliest groups to assemble was through the Old Ways list back in the 1990s. I also recall with fondness meeting so many of you at in-store events or after concerts, during which I observed from a distance how many of you seemed to get to know each other in those situations.
I also know many of you learned of my music through friends or family, through little neighbourhood music stores, or specialty radio programs.
Naturally, we’re always delighted to welcome new members to the Loreena McKennitt Community and we encourage you to extend an invitation to anyone you think might be interested. (As you know, there is no cost and with membership comes exclusive offers and benefits.)
But no matter how far you’ve come or how recently you’ve joined us, all of you continue to be so much like friends, and I realize we share many similar interests.
I want to thank you so very much for joining me on this journey and to say how much I’ve appreciated your support.
As we make our way through these incredible times, I just wanted to say hello and send you my very best spring wishes, hoping all our days will soon get brighter.