This has been a wretched few months, ladies and gentlemen. For those of you who can bear to read about it, I will probably share some of my personal story in my forthcoming January Changing Seasons post. Fear not though, there will be moments of joy to help with the reading. Not that I’ve started writing the post yet as I am waiting for a moment of calm. But for now, welcome to my regular Friday song/tune day, where I pick a piece of music that reflects my mood or the times, to share with you.
Since last Friday, our car was damaged and my garden destroyed by hail (photos in future posts). This was nothing compared to the damage experienced by others. The event was deemed a catastrophe by the insurance industry. Then today, many regions in southern New South Wales (a state of Australia) and Canberra were subjected to gale force winds that again whipped up fires on the south coast and in the alpine regions and caused new fires to start, including one on the other side of my hometown (see here). As it happened, my son was also visiting the south coast to assist in a university research project. By the time I managed to get in contact with him, the research team had decided to beat a hasty retreat, evacuating just before roads in the area were closed. They made it home safely this evening. Unfortunately, not everyone made it home safely today.
Today, three American aircrew died when the C-130 Hercules air tanker they were flying, crashed during water-bombing operations in the Snowy Mountains (see here). The tanker, owned and operated by Coulson Aviation, a Canadian company, was contracted by the NSW government to provide air support services. The cause of the crash is not yet known. Understandably, Coulson has grounded its large air tankers. Some Americans may recall that another C-130 water-bomber crashed in California in 2006 (or was that 2002?). I am not for any moment suggesting that there is a link between these two tragedies.
Many people are grieving this tragedy. The shock and trauma of these bushfires has now spread across continents. Three people went to work, left their country for months on end and they won’t be returning home. Everyone in Australia sends their condolences to the friends and families of those whose loved ones died today. We are deeply sorry for your loss.
What song could I possibly choose to pay tribute or to comfort that would not be trite? None, ladies and gentlemen. Absolutely none. I can only think of one tune that would half way decently convey the sorrow for the lives lost and our gratitude for those who sought to help Australians. But it is, what it is — Vaughn Williams’ The Lark Ascending. The composition was based on George Meredith’s 1881 poem
[Extract] Such wooing as the ear receives
From zephyr caught in choric leaves
Of aspens when their chattering net
Is flush’d to white with shivers wet;
And such the water-spirit’s chime
On mountain heights in morning’s prime,
Too freshly sweet to seem excess,
Too animate to need a stress;
But wider over many heads
The starry voice ascending spreads,
Awakening, as it waxes thin,
The best in us to him akin;
And every face to watch him rais’d,
That’s what we do, isn’t it? In the midst of a firestorm? We look skyward for … help. What a terrible irony. A senseless, terrible, heart-wrenching irony. And loss.