A day, beginning as an immature bud, can—with a little tender loving care—unfold into a beautiful flower. I know this because I’ve experienced it. The challenge, of course, is to continue tending the blossom, keeping the bloom fresh and bright in the hope of maintaining its life-affirming energy for longer than a fleeting moment. Days turn into weeks and months and years. Flowers rarely follow that path.


Yesterday afternoon, I sat with a friend. We talked about whatever entered our minds. And we laughed. There’s something about a free-wheeling conversation, lubricated with a touch of wine, that tends to strip away old, dried mental scabs. Beneath evidence of old wounds there’s freshness and healing; opportunities for deeper connections.

Still, there’s distance because of the ongoing plague and hugs remain rare these winter days. They have to be just as rare as they were in the heat of the summer. But even in the absence of long, heartfelt physical hugs, conversations can feel a little like the embraces for which we hunger. The craving for affection is both intellectual and emotional, both mental and physical.

Our conversations yesterday afternoon spanned time and generations. This morning, as I think about some of the things we talked about, some of the lyrics from a Greg Brown tune, Spring Wind, come to mind:

My friends are getting older
So I guess I must be too
Without their loving kindness
I don’t know what I’d do
Oh the wine bottle’s half empty-
The money’s all spent
And we’re a cross between our parents
And hippies in a tent


A perfectly buoyant mood can drown in other memories of musical lyrics. Three times, and now four, I’ve written in this blog about a single line in a Gordon Lightfoot song, The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. That one line, a question, is among the most mournful I’ve ever heard; it captures grief more completely than any long-winded explanation.

Does anyone know where the love of God goes when the waves turn the minutes to hours?

My wife and I went to a Gordon Lightfoot concert when we lived in Houston, sometime between 1979 and 1985. He performed in Jones Hall (I assume Jones Hall remains standing). Janine and I rarely attended concerts; they just weren’t our thing. We both liked music (I have always been more of a music buff than she), but were not enamored of the crowds, noise, difficulty parking, etc., etc. But we made exceptions. For Gordon Lightfoot. And Leonard Cohen. And Leon Redbone. Before I met Janine, I went to a Leo Kottke concert. And when we lived in Chicago, we made a habit of visiting the Ravinia Festival in Highland Park; that was an outdoor festival that, at the time, either allowed or tolerated festival-goers to bring in wine. Times change. Moods change. Likes and dislikes change.

My fingers just follow my mind. That’s why grief and happy times at concerts and mental gymnastics all found places to fit into this short section of this morning’s ruminations. And if that (or not), then my thoughts and my mood are just as disjointed as they seem to me.


Lately, I’ve noticed dozens of typos in my posts. My fingers type what they think I want to say, not what I think I want to say. My fingers rely on their tiny arthritic brains to keep up with my thinking. I could go back and correct my typos. Sometimes I do. But more frequently, I notice them and promise myself I’ll relay on an editor to find and correct them if I ever decide, seriously, to publish a compilation of some of my writing.


Having failed to watch and listen to our church minister’s mid-week Wednesday video, I took a break from typing and I watched it. As usual, it offered insights into what is happening with the church during the COVID-caused hiatus from in-person gatherings. It also made me realize that, even though I read the words at least once a week, I have not successfully committed the church covenant to memory. I tried, but failed, to type it from memory. I’ve grown used to reading it rather than reciting it. I think it’s worth committing to memory.

Love is the doctrine of this church,
and the quest for truth its sacrament,
and service its prayer.
To dwell together in peace,
to seek knowledge in freedom,
to serve humankind in fellowship,
to the end that all souls shall grow into harmony with the good.
Thus do we covenant with one another.


I repeatedly tried yesterday to figure out which device in or around the living area of my house was emitting an annoying intermittent tone, signaling that a battery was in need of replacement. I thought it might be a smoke detector, so I replaced the battery. A while later, I heard the tone again, so I disabled the smoke detector. Later, still, I heard the tone. I vowed yesterday that I would find out today what was making the noise. I just heard it again. And I think I remember the last time I heard the noise that I finally determined it was the battery in the NOAA weather radio in the master bedroom. That will be my next check, after I finish wasting my fingers’ energy on this drivel.


Once again this morning, I am in the mood for something sweet for breakfast; a cinnamon role, an apple crisp, anything doughy and sweet. Once again, I have nothing of the sort in the house. In the absence of something doughy and sweet, I may make plain congee, thus confirming the assertion made by a friend that I tend to make “weird shit” for breakfast. If I trusted the very old tofu in the fridge to still be edible, I might use it. But, after just checking, I learned that it should be consumed within three to five days after opening; I’ll discard it, instead. I hate to waste food, but I’d probably hate even more getting deathly ill from eating tainted tofu. Wait! Grits! Grits and sardines with Tabasco. That will make a pleasing and nutritious breakfast, so off I go to make it.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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2 Responses to Mornin’

  1. Greg Brown’s music represents some of the very best of the art of storytelling through song; love his music! John Prine, though, probably was the very best, in my opinion…well, among the best. Birches has become one of my favorites; Bill Morrissey was an incredible poet, storyteller, and singer. I came to know Kate Wolf late; still am not thoroughly familiar with her music. She died too young. Most of us do.

  2. David Legan says:

    Referencing Redbone and Kotke is refreshing but hardly remarkable. Lightfoot, likewise. But Greg Brown? Man, that’s GOOD! Who’s it going to be next? Kate Wolf? Bill Morrissey?Gotta hand it to ya, you do know some music.
    RIP John Prine!

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