Music That Makes Me Think of My Parents’ Garden


My father grew up in what was then Pennsylvania farm country, and my mother grew up in a family of serious gardeners. So, we grew up with gardens large and small, depending on our abode. I have been enjoying and sharing Xuefei Yang’s series of recordings from her backyard over the past two months. The setting makes me think of my parents’ back yard, which is mostly garden.

The mugs hanging in the kitchen read “Head Gardener” and “Undergardener.” Mom is the head gardener, and Dad has enjoyed decades of assisting her and getting satisfaction from the results of their labors. From the early days with a two-wheeled Gravely tractor busting sod in a big back yard for our first big vegetable garden, to today when he still wrangles bags of composted steer manure into long-established plant beds, Dad is the brawn to Mom’s gardening brains. That has been part of his life-long example to us of loving and honoring his wife. We kid him about wearing shorts year-round, but his life-long discipline shows in cannon-ball calves as he progresses through his eighth decade.

The whole property has been fenced in with anti-deer fencing because generations of deer have Chateau Brown on their fine dining list. There is not a day of the year without something green and growing. In the backyard, my folks enjoy sitting out on their covered patio with an iced tea, surrounded by herb beds, flowering plants, vegetables, and sometimes fruit or berries. Hummingbirds and all the usual avian tenants dart in and out of the trees. Mind you, even as they enjoy the fruits of their long labors, they have an eye on the next project, the next new or seasonal addition.

Watching and listening to Xuefei Yang play in her garden, you will notice the light breeze and hear birds chirping from time to time. Here is her latest, with June weather:

Two months ago the weather was cooler:

One week it was a bit too breezy, so she played inside with the breeze moving the plants outside the window as the sun streamed in:

Most days since then the weather has been right for recording in her garden:

What memories, what places, do particular pieces of music call to mind for you?

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  1. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown

    We still have a few open days this month. Stop by and sign up to write about “Music that makes me . . . .”

    Interested in Group Writing topics that came before? See the handy compendium of monthly themes. Check out links in the Group Writing Group. You can also join the group to get a notification when a new monthly theme is posted.

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  2. Arahant Member

    Clifford A. Brown: What memories, what places, do particular pieces of music call to mind for you?

    The closest I come to anything like that is if it recalls a concert I was at, but I don’t usually associate music with place or time. (Or lyrics with song title, for that matter.)

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  3. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp

    Thanks, Colonel.  This is a real beaut.

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  4. WillowSpring Member

    Back in the day, when I would go for long bike rides, I was doing one of my favorite rides on a long country road (Zulla road, west of Middleburg, Va). It goes through beautiful farm country with some ‘reasonable’ hills

    I used to have a pocket radio so I could listen to the football games later on in the day.  Out there, the only station I could get was a small one from Winchester.

    Just when I got into a rhythm on the bike, this exotic driving tune came one and lasted for most of the hill. It was fantastic!

    The next day, I called the station to find out what they played at that time and actually got the guy who played it.  I think he was surprised that anyone had been listening.  Anyway, the album was Snow Goddess from Himekami and the song was “Prayer”.
    More recently, I had a favorite road coming home from town.  The speed limit was 50 and with the top down, I could make it from one end to the other before  “The Battle” From the sound track to Master and Commander finished.  Unfortunately, theY lowered the speed limit for sections and put in a “traffic calming circle”! – on a country road.

    Anyway, both of those certainly remind me of times and places.

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  5. Boss Mongo Member
    Boss Mongo

    I sent some of Ms. Yang’s videos highlighted above to my kids for their Sunday meditation. She is simply a pure dose of awesome.

    The song that pushes to the forefront of my memory, reading your post, is by Sophie B. Hawkins.

    Once upon a time, I came back from Korea to attend SFAS. Before the course started, I signed for a house in on-base housing, handed the keys over to the lovely and talented Mrs. Mongo, and left for selection. Five weeks later, I came back to the house, broken and hurting but happy that I’d passed and been selected and would soon be in the Qualification course.

    The final event of selection was a 26-mile road march, with weapon (rubber duck), load-bearing equipment and a 55-pound ruck (not counting chow and water). I jumped (well, fell) out of the back of a buddy’s pick up truck, grabbed my rucksack and duffel bag, and limped up to the house.

    My incredible bride had been busy turning the house into a home. There were treatments on all the windows, she had recovered the chairs to our dining room table, and even put up speakers in the corners of the living room, on those little right angle speaker shelves you can get.  She’d run the wires herself inside those little tube thingies with exterior adhesive. The house was festooned with plants, like unto a garden.  As soon as I walked in the door, I knew I was home. This is the song that was playing when I entered:

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  6. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Your parents sound very special, Clifford. Thanks for giving us a glimpse into their lives.

    • #6
  7. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty

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