Farming the Graveyard: Reviving Your Fallen Darlings

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My mother was born and raised on the Gulf Coast of Florida. We’d visit family there often when I was a child. We’d be sitting, just mama and I, with our buts in the sand and our toes in the sea I would ask her in shear disbelief why she would ever leave this for Indiana. The glib version of her response was always that “love will take you many places.” See, she fell in love with one of “them Indiana boys on them Indiana nights.” But as I got older, I pressed her for a more complete answer. “The seasons,” she said, “I just love the changing of the seasons. The first time I drove the back roads of Parke County in October I was hooked.” I suppose the similarities between the rolling hills and hollers of my girlhood home are part of what I love so much about this place.

I’m Cari Ray, coming to you from my Brown County home with another installment of “For A Song”, and my mother is, of course, right. Fall is undeniably beautiful here. Just ask the 10s of thousands of tourists who descend upon our little village that time of year. But there is something about the transition from Winter to Spring that I find positively mesmerizing. I think its first the promise and then the spectacle of the rebirth of that which was all but dead. And it seems alway to be just in time.

It’s that first morning after the first day that offers just the right ratio of rain and sunshine when it seems that the forrest out my windows has gone from grey to green overnight…when what was brittle and weathered is suddenly soft and lush. The tree branches all at once have the blush of buds. The crocus boldly send up their periscope of green from the soggy soil. The moss on the path down to the lake, which lie dry and brown all the cold Winter is once again a tender carpet beneath my feet. The songbirds and the woodpeckers start to sing and tap the soothing symphony that is my alarm clock, and the peepers tell me when it’s time to stop fishing and head to the house. Unless I’m catching…then I fish until I can no longer see to thread tippet through the eye of my nymph.

In a recent “For a Song,” we talked about the importance of being willing to let go of…or figuratively kill off song ideas or parts that don’t serve the song as a whole. But we also talked about filing those ideas away in a graveyard of sorts. I personally have a written and an audio version made from quick recordings into my smartphone memo recording app. Well, as important as it is to collect the fallen and fragmented, it is equally as important to know when it might be time to follow the example set by Springtime in Indiana and try your hand at a little resurrection. That growing collection of phrases, word associations, ideas, verses, choruses and tags is a very valuable toolbox for the savvy songwriter. Struggling to channel new ideas? Farm the graveyard. Grasping for compelling imagery? Farm the graveyard. Stuck on a song? Farm the graveyard. Writer’s block? Well, you get the idea.

Remember, many of these little tidbits were buried there because you were once in love with them. And while I’m not normally a proponent of looking back OR of zombie romance, I can tell you from experience that the undead versions can sometimes be even more lovable than the originals. So put a spade in your hand and your heart in a hopeful place. Then start digging.

I’m Cari Ray, wishing you Godspeed and hoping you’ll join me next time on For a Song.