The universe’s messengers come in all shapes, sizes, colours, forms, genders, and ages. They may be living beings, forces of nature, or inanimate objects. They could be deaf, dumb and blind, ten feet tall and/or incredibly small. Some dance. Some are as vast, and deep as the ocean. Others twinkle like the night sky.
I stumbled upon one playing the fiddle on his parents’ porch in Almonte, Ontario, on June 16, 2018, at about 4:15 p.m.
Actually, that’s not quite true. One rarely “stumbles upon” a messenger from the universe, although it may indeed feel random to either or both the messenger and the “messengee” if their intuition isn’t fully switched on. But the universe’s intentions are clear, and its delivery is unmistakably deliberate and obvious when one is paying attention, which I was, as usual.
I had planned to attend a prior PorchFest de Mississippi Mills session at 3 p.m., but I lay down for a 10-minute nap and overslept. I awoke just in time to make it to 17-year-old Alexander George’s performance, one of several taking place around town at 4 p.m., but I was delayed when I stopped to talk to a stranger along the way to Alex’s gig. He was playing on the porch of his family home, which, coincidentally, is five doors down and across the street from the little house I had just purchased two days before.
As I strolled past my new place, I wondered if I had made the right decision. Two weeks later, I would abandon Quebec’s Eastern Townships, where I had spent my childhood, and which had always been “home” no matter where I travelled in the world. Mom had lived in the big red brick house on the hill on the Georgeville Road for 40 years, and had died not far from it in August 2016. Will she know where to find me after I move? I was full of grief at the prospect of leaving her, even though she was already gone. I tried hard to release my sadness. Enjoy the afternoon. Don’t spoil it with dark thoughts. My positive self-talk produced mixed results.
Two young girls were selling muffins and lemonade beside the Georges’ house. I bought a drink, and gave them a .50-cent tip. Their eyes grew wide. “Thanks!” they said in unison. I meandered down onto the sloping lawn where people were gathered in small groups under the shade of trees and large bushes to take the edge off the heat. I sat down alone on the grass. Alex began to play what must have been the third or fourth song in his set. The Tennessee Waltz. Tears sprang to my eyes, and streamed down my cheeks. Had they known in advance they would be called into action? Luckily, a lady sitting not too far away had tissues.
I first heard The Tennessee Waltz when Eric played it for Mom one afternoon in early 2014. I fell in love with the tune on the spot. Mom knew all the words of course, and I learned them quickly enough. How many times had we sung it together? Dozens. She beautifully, and me badly. It was one of our favourites.
Two-thirds of the way through Alex’s captivating interpretation, I somehow found the presence of mind to pull out my iPhone and push record.
Here’s a full version from Alex’s first (and undoubtedly not his last!) album, just as he played it on the porch accompanied by piano:
More about the hugely talented Alex George here.