A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, Golden Festival 2013, Greenwood Cemetery, Raya Brass Band
We recently spent a weekend in Brooklyn. Older son was playing with Raya Brass Band in the annual Golden Festival — two nights of music and dancing. Balkan folk music comes in many forms and celebrates the joy, sadness, and complexity that makes life on earth so sweet.
By Saturday night the festival was in full swing, the sound level and crowds were intense. In one room, an enormous chandelier danced up and down to the beat.
So on Sunday, needing some quiet time, we took a short walk through Brooklyn’s Greenwood cemetery. Our goal was to find Leonard Bernstein’s grave. After a weekend of music, it seemed fitting to pay homage to the maestro.
As we walked through, I wondered about the less famous people buried here. Who were they? Who was missing them? What had they done with their time on earth — and, for that matter, what am I doing right now with mine?
The gravestones provided some information.
But no specific answers. At least not to the questions I was pondering.
But then we came upon this tree with elephantine roots, its grip on the ground made stronger by the passing years.
“Grab on to this awe-inspiring, irreplaceable planet with both hands,” it seemed to say. “We are privileged to live here. Celebrate your beautiful life!”
Before we got in the car, I stood and listened. After two nights loaded with boisterous music, the only sound I heard was the wind rustling through the dried branches overhead. The earth was singing.
Erica Holthausen said:
Leave a reply? How? I’m at a loss for words, so I’ll keep it simple. This post resonated deep inside my soul. Thank you.
Thanks Erica. My heart was in my throat when I hit “publish” on this one.
Martha Nichols said:
This is so beautiful, J, and so much what I needed this morning. The singing earth. Yes.
You were very much on my mind, M, while I was writing this.
Lesie in Portland, Oregon said:
Wonderful, Judith. I look forward to hearing your son play, and visiting the Brooklyn tree with elephantine roots, someday…ideally, with you! That was a gorgeous, crystal clear Sunday in Brooklyn, and you have contributed immeasurably to my memory of it. If you are reclaiming your poetic side after years of writing in the business world (just a guess), you are succeeding!
Oh yes, Leslie, next time for sure! And, we should also check out that botanical garden in Prospect Park that Dominique wrote about!
Karen Brandt said:
Such beautiful writing and photography. So glad you decided to hit “publish”. And now I am curious about Balkan folk music and dance. Let me know if such an event is held around here!
Actually, Karen, they may be playing here in Concord (Mass.) in March!
Heather in Arles said:
What compliment did you oh-so kindly leave at my doorstep today? Right back at ya, kid.
Gros, gros bisous, Judith. This was so perfectly beautiful in every way…
Thank you Heather, that means a great deal coming from you. Gros bisous to you, too!