I can smell the gardenia from here. The late evening breeze that carries its fragrance brings Joni Mitchell and Billie Holiday too and we sit together on my back deck around a candle, watching the air move. They’re both smoking and for the first time since I quit seven years ago I’m tempted to light one up.
Because it’s them. Their voices, their choices taught me how to sing, what to sing about, why to sing. They teach me still, here around the candle. Their laughter is like thunder, then lightning.
So many ideas to explore, each one spinning off the one before as we throw our nets wide, gather what we find and bring it to table. As women do when it needs to happen, we cook the magic with these findings, tending to the glue that will pull a moment together into larger possibility. Into Event large enough for many or few. Event, which will mean change, which is growth, which, if done right will never be forgotten. We build and hold space together.
My incredible mother joins us, drawn to the alchemical centre. Joni and Billie know her, which doesn’t surprise me at all. “Honey, what TOOK you so long?”, (Billie, laughing like a crack in the sky). Mom has brought us a strange fruit, wondering, “You didn’t eat this, did you?” (Joni, like an eagle, like a snake in the grass). The dangerous thing is tucked and folded into the conversation, deepening it. Joni offers jungle in the dry season, Billie some Louisiana sweat, creaking on the porch. Mom smells the gardenia too, and smiles – she knows they don’t grow in Canada.
We watch the candlewax drip – gentle evening breeze art.
Into the watching silence comes an understanding of what pain is. What it’s for.
Billie hums softly, like the earth rumbling.
We hum with her, in four-part harmony, like heavy rain after a long drought.
Mom finds and holds the sixth.