Commentary

Editor’s Notebook: A field of white clover

July 6, 2022 5:46 am

A couple of weeks ago, white clover began taking over a stretch of lawn between the workshop and the river. (Dana Wormald | New Hampshire Bulletin)

“What I want to do as a musician is provide a soundtrack. Life is the film, and I’m doing the soundtrack.” – George Winston

George Winston, a brilliant musician with an affinity for “Charlie Brown” composer Vince Guaraldi, was the first performer I saw in concert. My older brother had discovered Winston in college and passed him down to me – along with everyone from Kitaro to the Violent Femmes – and the two of us attended the show at the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord together. It wasn’t exactly the kind of concert that would create envy among other 16-year-olds in the late 1980s, but it was a big moment for me then and remains so now. 

Beyond its compositional beauty, Winston’s music somehow manages to make New England’s landscape and seasons even more spectacular. The Great Plains and his Montana home may serve as Winston’s muse, but play “Autumn” in full when the New Hampshire trees begin to change and you will be convinced that he discovered the notes in our hills, forests, and fields. Or don’t wait for September or October and listen now. You will see the red and gold, feel the bite of wind and drizzle, smell the perfume of harvest and decay – the all-senses symphony of eternal fall. 

“What it comes down to, it’s the seasons but it really is a person looking at the seasons,” Winston said of his music in the 1996 film “Seasons in Concert.” “… It’s always a person looking at the forest, not the forest itself.”

Even when I’m not listening to Winston, I hear him. On a made-to-order riverside Saturday afternoon last weekend, I kept getting pulled away from a book and into treetops brushed with late light and phantom strains of “Loreta and Desiree’s Bouquet, Pt. 1.” Amid the roar of cars, trucks, and motorcycles along our busy route, the river moved to “Spring Creek” while “Colors/Dance” played in the thicket: Relentless machine noise but grace in the spaces.

There was plenty of ugliness in our land over the long holiday weekend, too. There is ugliness in our land every day, a dark dissonance. I see it, hear it, feel it always – the symphony of broken lives. I see violence and pain, dysfunction and greed. I see misanthropy. 

But it’s not all I see and it can’t ever be, in light or shadow. And so I try to remember to look – but without looking away.

Sometime in the last couple of weeks, white clover started taking over our yard. From the hill I didn’t see flowers but weeds that suggested I had finally been bested by a patch of earth that doesn’t think much of a manicured lawn. I didn’t notice the way the stretch of clover looked against the painted workshop, either, or all of the honeybees working the flowers. 

It wasn’t until late Saturday afternoon, with the sound of Winston’s piano everywhere and nowhere, that I saw it.

A new piece of the melody.

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Dana Wormald
Dana Wormald

Dana Wormald, a lifelong resident of New Hampshire, has been a newspaper editor for more than 25 years. He began his career on the Concord Monitor’s news desk in 1995 and later spent more than a decade at the New Hampshire Union Leader. In 2014, he returned to the Monitor to serve as opinion editor, a position he held until being named editor of the Bulletin.

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