Music, bread and daffodils

Last modified: Sunday, January 10, 2016
On a lovely Easter morning, most passersby were in happy mode (for many, the most beautiful words in the English language are “three-day weekend.”)Someone was out behind a house on State Street noodling around on a guitar, doing some fine channeling of Jimi Hendrix. I enthused to a young man nearby, and he said, “From ‘Are You Experienced’—it’s on the tip of my tongue—‘The Wind Cries Mary.’” He was right.A flock of high school-age kids (could have been college, I don’t know) came along next, laughing with their peeps. One even wore a T-shirt declaring “My Peeps.” But this was clearly a sweet Easter message: depicted on the shirt were Peeps indeed, those sugar-glazed, electric yellow marshmallow chicks.A few blocks farther on, I stopped at Hungry Ghost for the bakery’s special Easter bread—there’s an egg baked into the cross-crust top of the slightly sweeter than usual loaf. When I walked in, Bob Dylan’s stirring protest ballad “Hurricane” was blasting from the sound system, and baker Jonathan Stevens, the owner with his partner, Cheryl Maffie, was singing along with gusto as he pulled loaves from the oven.“Great song,” I said (it’s one of my favorites for its driving intensity, crazy rhymes, and Scarlet Rivera’s fiddle), and he said they were celebrating the life of boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter. A cause célèbre in the 1970s, Carter died earlier today. He had been wrongfully convicted of murder and spent 19 years in prison before being exonerated and freed in 1985.Carter spent much of the rest of his life working to free the wrongfully imprisoned. The song, by Dylan and Jacques Levy, tells the story. Denzel Washington starred in a biopic on Carter’s life and case, in the late 1990s. More detailed accounts can be found in Carter’s obituaries and on Wikipedia.Walking home through the Smith campus, I wanted to check in with a favorite spring delight, the Wilson Bulb Bank, along a path behind the botanic gardens. There they were, all sorts of daffodils “tossing their heads in sprightly dance.”* In their midst, a magnolia is also in full bloom. Smith’s greenhouse bulb show is always amazing, but this is for real, outdoors. It’s worth the effort to get there. *The English poet William Wordsworth, in the poem “Daffodils,” inspired by what he saw on a mid-April day in 1802.