Where have all the flowers gone?

I’m not much into lyrics, which is a lot to hear from a person who is 1) a writer, for whom words are paramount, and 2) a musician in what many would describe as an Irish ballad band. For more than twenty years, I’ve sat alongside my husband, singing harmony to the word-decked melodies that make up his unique and broad repertoire—songs he handpicked over many years for what they have to say about history, and humanness, and the lived experience. He won’t sing just any song; he picks songs for their meaning and their weight. You’ve probably seen me sing along in harmony with all the right words, so I do know them… but sometimes to this saxophone player, songs are not about their stories—they are but a collection of syllables, sounds, rhythm, and melody. I’m an instrumentalist, and a jazz one at heart. I love riffs. I love notes and their subtle power to express powerful emotion without a single word. I have learned to love singing over the years, and I do love songs. But for a word girl, I sure do yearn for musical truth that expresses the heart with nary a syllable. 

This is my wordy way of saying, “Where have all the flowers gone—what exactly is that Pete Seeger song about, anyway? I found the refrain ringing in my head today at 4 am. There I was (here I am), lying in the dark with my laptop, sleepless like the last couple of months, and singing just the one line, over and over: “Where have all the flowers gone?” This came to my head because I wanted to write to you today to explain exactly where the hell I do I think I’ve been these last three quiet weeks, young lady? And then I figured I'd better Google to look at the words to that song. I found them, and guess what... the sax player in me got the message of the song but then said: Who cares? Because really I’m just pulling that line out of context. Where have those flowers gone anyway? Where are the blogs? The videos? Sue Lindsay, where the hell are you? 

Well, I’m here and it’s dark but I’m fine. Dark but fine. Even flower-focused, joy-inspired, sunrise-worshipping optimists like me have wordless patches. I have never had a writing block in my life, and so trust me, I’ve been writing. But sometimes we pull in, we think, we still write—but the words are for us, or at least for a smaller audience. People are deeply struggling. The pandemic is raging. Loved ones are sick; one is dying. We all have our ways of coping. Me, I’m doing a lot of running in the dark, and it feels real good. It feels fine. 

It’s not for me to say where the flowers are, but this I know: There are still beautiful things. The flowers of life have not lost their bloom, but I’m keeping the vase on my own kitchen table for a spell. 

Thanks for asking. I love you.





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