March 14, 2009
Mother Nature seems to be playing some April Fool''s pranks on Columbus. The gags are all the more unexpected, since this is still only mid-March.
From that exquisite Christmas-card snowfall to sunny spring moments and back to chilly rains, the last two weeks have been quite confusing. Each day is a clothing-choice adventure.
That too-early switch to daylight savings time set many of our internal clocks askew. Chris and I stumble out of bed before the dawn to dress for work. (There should be a rule about rising: Chickens first. Homo Sapiens much, much later.)
Although mere mortals may be bewildered, other living things are not. In my neighbors'' yards, tulips and irises stand, bright and brave, against the daily-changing seasons. Doves are nesting. Above, the faithful man in the moon still shines and smiles on our city.
The cycle of life has many sad turns. News of Willie King''s death was one. (March is not a fortuitous month for royalty. Ask Julius Caesar.)
Willie sang the blues. He wore an innocent and impish grin, while singing double entendre lyrics. I never quite understood the song about a chicken and a duck, but judging from his bad-little-boy expression, it was a bit naughty.
He had a presence all his own. And an amazing voice, raspy and wise, filtered through an ancient amp, patched with "x"s of black duct tape.
Willie King was one of the reasons I fell in love with Columbus, and with the blues. He was a great talent, and, even in a well-attended concert, seemed to be singing only to me. We had him for nearly 66 years. Hardly enough, it seems.
His death does not close the door on this most poignant, most wonderful music genre (my opinion). Mississippi is so lucky to have many seasoned talents, like Big Joe Shelton and amazing blues babies like Caleb Childs. The beat goes on.
That''s what spring is all about. The rebirth of dormant, seemingly dead foliage, tiny birds, and the return of the Southside owl, hooting high in the trees, all are signs of hope.
This is the season to seize on beginnings, not endings. It is the time to delight in the renewal of our planet and her creatures. If heaven sends signs of optimism, then who are we to argue? Despite claims to the contrary, the earth goes on.
This week I will play my Willie King CD''s and shed some tears. Perhaps those tears will nourish a tiny seed and help it grow. The cycle does not end.
Have you noticed that the man in the moon''s smile seems a bit more amused these days? I''ll bet he is listening to Willie King teach some of those risqué lyrics to a chorus of angels. What a treat for the craters that are his ears.
Adele Elliott, a New Orleans native, moved to Columbus after Hurricane Katrina. E-mail reaches her at [email protected]
Adele Elliott, a New Orleans native, moved to Columbus after Hurricane Katrina.