Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
It's hard to imagine the weather that they're getting out there in Pennsylvania and upstate New York tonight. Here it is, nearly the first week in May, and those poor folks are dealing with a freak snowstorm that's dumping over a foot of the white stuff on them at a time when people have already mowed their lawns three or four times and the flowers have all popped. It makes you sort of delirious to think about such a crapshoot of a situation happening right where I am, where the scent - nearly a stink - of the lilacs on the other side of the window is pungent, repulsive and intoxicating, all at the same time. The sun was big and beaming this afternoon. There were no coats and definitely no shovels seen anywhere. The windows were zipped down, at least halfway, and it was downright simple forgetting that winter was even anything that was remotely possible. It couldn't happen to us. Not here. Not now. But it's happening, and not all that far away - just a few fat states over. It's a humbling thought to know this because those people were thinking the same thing just a few days ago as they were riding their bikes through the park and grilling in the backyard. It's amazing how quickly our short-term memories just fade and break apart. We can't even picture an icy sidewalk as it might look outside our front door, right now. We're just dumb about it.
Reminding us of times when we need bundling, when we need reassurance that this is going to pass too, is Kelli Scarr and her impressively earnest and delightful songs. Each of them - as they're heard here - is a little postcard from a few months back, always a few months back, when the fireplace was roaring a warm and smoky roar and when there was nothing better to do than to believe in the lasting qualities of something. When it's winter, you believe that it will never end and when it's spring or summer, you believe that what happened just before it must have been a bad dream and quite possibly unreal. She gives you the feeling of hair blowing in the wind and a fire that will never, ever die down. She gives you the feeling of something in time suspended right where it is, as if everything exists in the most miraculous kind of a vacuum. We're here, she's with us, we're all with the ones that we love and there's no leaving here. There's no getting away, just a slow-moving minute hand. It's like sitting on the bank of a glassy surfaced lake - not a ripple in sight - and a mother of a catfish leaps out from below the surface and just pauses in mid-air, back arched into a lazy C-shape, before getting swallowed up by the brown water. We're just sitting there, listening and watching and things like that jump out at us again and again. We sit here stunned, knowing that when the song ends, we're gonna see all of this get taken away from us and we're not sure what we're going to see outside our windows - something we want to see, or something we'll cuss a little bit. We'd just rather stay by this magical fire.
*Essay originally published April, 2012