Springtime has been quietly creeping back into the West Texas landscape these past few weeks and, I must admit, its arrival comes none too soon for me. The warmer weather that accompanies the vernal equinox brings with it returning flocks of migratory birds whose noisy cacophony in the early mornings and around twilight is like that of Midwest retirees, just off the plane following an extended stay in the Florida sun and eager to catch up on the local gossip.
Spring has always been my favorite season for its sense of optimism and renewal. The lengthening days bring back fond memories from when I was young; the freedom associated with spring break, and a faint taste of the lengthy summer vacation to come.
Many years ago, I was a new mother solely responsible for the care of my young daughter after my husband Larry deployed to Vietnam. I struggled until life’s burdens became overwhelming for me, and I ultimately sought help as a patient at the Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas, where I was diagnosed with clinical depression.
One of my favorite pastimes was to listen to popular music to distract me from my troubles. That year, a wonderful song about spring hit the radio, performed by an up-and-coming Canadian musician, Anne Murray. Her rendition of “Snowbird” to this day remains a lovely, lyrical melody whose words speak to new beginnings and the possibility that good things are ahead. During the winter of my life’s discontent, it came to me that perhaps spring would come after all. The imagery of blooming flowers became an omen to me. For a while, I played make-believe with my heart and imagined that the twilight of my depression would lift, and that hope and healing would flood into my life on the gilded rays of a glorious sunrise. Larry would come home safely from his deployment. All would be well in the world.
Of course, all of this would prove to be magical thinking. Most of you know that Larry didn’t come home alive from Vietnam and my depression deepened for a time. But the song stayed with me, reminding me of the power of hope, which ultimately helped me recover my strength and move on with my life.
Looking back, all these years later, Larry’s death reminds me of the snowbird. His life came to pass so it could pass on through. That year, after the snow melted in Kansas, the roses at Menninger bloomed forth in rich profusion; evidence that life, beauty and hope can emerge from the dormancy of despair, triggered by the worst that life can give us.
Listen to Anne Murray pour out her heart. Good things are coming. Even in the midst of this wildly crazy political climate. Believe, have hope and embrace the music. “Snowbird” launched Murray’s career and became a number one hit in Canada. “Snowbird” also became a surprise hit on the U.S. charts as well, reaching number eight on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1970. It was the first Gold Record ever awarded to a Canadian artist in the United States. Anne Murray ultimately became one of the most successful female artists of the period, appearing regularly on the hit U.S. television series “The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour.”
© Tyra Manning 2018