memory music mountains and living rooms

A Creative Life, artistic inspirations, food for thought, music in art, sketchbook, travel art and writing, travelog, travelogue, words and pictures

Sweetie and I did a short road trip to Mount St. Helens in Washington. We hiked around, saw a lot of birds. Sweetie heard the birds singing and said they were quite a musical chorus.  At the visitor’s center people “danced” about getting photos in front of the mountain. I drew this in my sketchbook using ink and watercolor:

MtStHelens72

Sketchbook page by Sue Clancy

Then at the visitor’s center we went into the Mount. St. Helens gift shop. From past experience we’ve learned that their collection of books for sale on the topics of botany, zoology and biology is a gold mine. Several books come home with us each trip. This time was no exception. One of the titles that came home with us is “Natural History of the Pacific Northwest Mountains.” by Daniel Mathews.

On page 429 I read (about birds caching food) “Phenomenal ability to remember precise locations evolved separately in the chickadees and the jays that cache food for winter, and in many migrating species. Some of these species have nonmigratory or noncaching relatives whose powers of recall don’t amount to diddley squat.  Another kind of memory that must be worth holding on to is a male warbler’s memory of conspecific males’ songs.  As long as each singer remembers his neighbor’s song from the year before, and stays on his own territory, both are spared a fight. They remember songs from year to year as they return from Central America to reclaim their old haunts.”

That got me to thinking about the traveling troubadours of ancient times.  And from that thought I migrated (pun intended) to thinking of how, here in the Pacific Northwest, there is a “new” tradition of traveling musicians who give what is called “living room concerts” in private homes.  The home-owner hosts the musicians, putting them up for a night or two, and invites a number of family and friends to come to a concert. A certain amount of money is collected per attendee and most of that money goes to the musician.  The musician also sells their CD’s and what not during the evening.

I’m quite addicted to this ‘living room concert’ tradition. I find that even though I’m deaf I can “hear” the music better in a small intimate setting. There are also several local small independent theatres – and there’s fairly good hearing there too. My point being that the music I’ve heard since we’ve lived here in the Pacific Northwest has inspired a lot of my recent artwork. And I suspect this trend will continue.

The concept of a birds ability to remember where they put their food also made me think about the seasonal offerings at the local Pacific Northwest restaurants.  When I say “seasonal offering” I mean it. There’s a short time when a certain fruit or veg is available at the local farms so the pubs and restaurants will offer special dishes that use that fruit/veg and then when it’s gone. It’s gone.

We’ve lived here long enough now that I’m beginning to remember, for example, what pubs will offer the “fresh asparagus ‘fries’ ” during peak asparagus season. I’m also remembering which farmers market stands sell the freshest berries and apples. I love the seasonal randomness it’s like a perpetual surprise party but the ability to remember what is ripe during what season is helpful to know.

Needless to say I’ve been artistically inspired by the food. And that’ll prolly (as they say here) continue too.

There’s something about memory and food and music…. something that I just itch to make fine art about. So stay tuned. (pun intended again)

2 thoughts on “memory music mountains and living rooms

  1. I so agree with you about memories being strongly connected to music and food. We can often remember a particular place we’ve visited based on what we ate there and many has been the time when I’ve been transported to a vivid memory by hearing a snippet of music. Sometimes smells trigger memories for me too.

    I love the idea of concerts in such a small and intimate setting. I get panicked in crowds so haven’t been able to attend a “proper” music event in years. Listening to music in such a small, domestic setting would really appeal to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for taking the time to comment Laura! I’m glad you mentioned what you did about memory…. it does seem connected to our concepts of time. Or at least memory seems to be one of the ways we “move” through time. Re: living room concerts – I hear you about the crowds – the way I understand the living room concert thing got started in my neck of the woods was because one homeowner heard a local musician and invited them to give a concert at their house because they didn’t like large concert crowds either. They invited a few friends. Some of those friends decided to do a similar sort of house party to reciprocate and feature another musician… and so it went until it built up into a “thing”. Here’s a link to one of the musicians I’ve been lucky enough to hear in one of the living room concerts. http://quietamericanmusic.com/home There are music samples on the site… and they do some fun quirky little art books to go with their CD’s.

      Liked by 1 person

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