or Soft Focus
Nothing in the world sounds quite like a high school marching band, and very perplexed it made me to hear one while I was outside watering the seedlings yesterday afternoon. It was quite a good band, as these things go—well in tune, fairly precise, plenty of pizzazz—but a bit out of the blue. As far as I know, no high school lurks in the neighborhood waiting to spring its marching band on innocent passers-by, and bands don't usually appear out of thin air. A nearby park occasionally hosts special events, and perhaps this was one of them.
Trombones, trumpets, piccolos, snare drums; the bass drum driving them all along, holding them all together—hot sounds and loud, sounds that surprised me on a cool March day. The park hosts a summer concert series, and on July evenings I often hear occasional strains of salsa, swing, blues—hot brass, hot guitar licks, hot driving rhythms. Then, the bright sounds partner well with a summer sunset, with the summer flowers in the garden—neon pink autumn sage, orange marigolds, red geraniums—flowers with saturated colors intense enough to stand up to the southwestern sun, our famously clear light.
New Mexico does intensity well, and that makes the gentle days of spring like today, when the winds die down and the marching bands stay home, all the more precious. These afternoons hum along at a mezzo piano, a moderate quietness, that is a little more familiar to people in greener lands. For a few short weeks, the sun is neither so low in the sky as to cast everything into relief nor so high as to wash out details. Here, at its halfway point, it allows for a soft focus; it is kind to pastels, to the delicate colors of spring.
This would have been a good day to overhear not a marching band but a neighbor idly strumming a guitar on a patio somewhere, picking out bits of a tune, singing a few measures now and then; to catch the gentle murmur of conversation, an occasional laugh in the middle distance. It didn't happen. But the finches sang, and the wind was more or less still, and the mourning doves called out their own version of the blues.
The mezzo piano version.