When I opened the back door tonight to peer up at the stars Small Dog ran out past me and down into the dark vacuum of garden and disappeared in seconds. I called out to her but she ignored my call and so I stood there lost in the reverie of the heavens and counted my blessings. She, Small Dog has been up to her old tricks again, lured into the dark corners of the bog by god knows what. I suspect foxes but do not know enough of their habits to confirm my suspicion. She stays out for hours on end and comes back around two a.m., exhausted and ready for a long sleep. I must admit I am prone to her behaviour, even though mine is usually on a respectable afternoon when I hop over the fence and find that I am lost in a place that is not touched by man, time, worry, phones...all one hears over the fence is the wind and the beautiful late Summer, early Autumn wild flowers quietly devoting their beauty to the land. And so because of this I let her go, do not chide her, understand that she needs this, this escape from the world of this house and all that it engages, the flurry of activity, the boundaries of the walls, the formality of human existence.
I met a woman today who told me she has no ear for music. I was taken aback. I have never met anyone who said that to me before. Not alone did she not have an ear she said, but she admitted she did not like music, period. I was in a charity shop and was deliberating on buying a blouse sprinkled with blue flowers that remined me of cornflowers. I said to her that I didn't want to buy it because I was sure I would never wear it. And I said, well the music is nice in here, it was a tango or something to that effect. She said, I don't even hear it, it means nothing to me.
I thought about her as I drove home. I could not imagine how that could be. Not hearing the music or loving it or wanting to dance, move your body about, the inside of your head. I started thinking about my mother, always humming something when I was a child. Always moving into song whenever it took her fancy. She sang and I danced. That's the way it was. When I got home from school I would take off my shoes, throw my school bag in the corner and she would sit on a chair , clap her hands together and sing. I danced. I never thought it was unusual. She sang, 'it's a long way to Tipperary' or 'we'll make a bonfire of our troubles' or 'up the airy mountain down the grassy glen', and I danced. She always smiled when she was singing. She sang for years.
I remember when my mother stopped singing. Now I do but only now. It was gradual, you see. It was like something you get used to and then you take it for granted and when it stops it takes a while to notice. When I did notice that it had stopped it was too late. It was only then that I wanted to sing to my mother. I wanted to sing all the songs and all the sentences that I never got to say to make her dance. I held her hand and she looked at me waiting maybe for the music but I couldn't, I couldn't come up with the lyrics, the tunes, the hums, the memories.
I can now. I sing all through the day. In the car, to my sons, while I bake, wash, scrub, clean, write, on and on the singing goes and sometimes the melodies are jumbled and I forget the words and nothing ever sounds right but I keep on singing and even when I call out to the Small Dog at two a.m. it must sound like a song. It goes 'Small Dog, Small Dog, come back even though the wind is playing its tune in your ear and the grass is soft and sweet and Mr. Foxy is dancing with you and the grass is bending to your touch, come back little Small Dog, come back to the house of song, the music of love, the place where all is safe and good'.