Ah, sad news. Mícheál Ó Domhnaill is dead. It’s far too early; he was far too young. I never met the man, yet he is and likely always will be an inextricable part of the fabric of my life–the impact of his contribution to the Irish traditional music I play was all-encompassing; like his guitar backing, it lifts and carries the music forward, never changing the melody but always putting his own stamp upon it.
Zina Lee, here, thinking upon both the death of a man who was one of the innovators of the music I play and of the coming of the first harvest celebrations, the turning of the summer towards autumn.
Playing Irish traditional music is a part of my life that is always there. The merry times playing with friends, of bringing music to celebrations throughout the year, of sharing the making of this music with others, are a large part of why I play it in the first place.
There’s no time that this is truer than the end of summer, a time of harvests and life and the reaping of the crops we’ve sown earlier.
Spring and summer find us moving outward, into the burgeoning life of the world and our lives, out into the greater life of the world to find our places within it. Autumn and winter bring us back into ourselves even as we move back into our home places, to contemplate our inner lives. Joy and sorrow and pain and love weave themselves in and out of our lives, like rivers and streams wending through the land, bringing water to the earth.
The cycles of the year are always turning, an automatic reminder of the cycle of our lives, from the pale, slender green growth of the spring of our youth into the vigorous summer of our adulthood, turning to the full golden harvest of the autumnal years, and then fading into the quiet white frosts on the black earth in our winter.
My summers are full of playing music at weddings and celebrations, of birds and gardens; all my time spent indoors is flavored with the longing to be outside in the sun–though when I’m outdoors, like Kipling’s cat, I’m usually trying to get back into the coolness of the house. But as the year turns towards August, Lammas, Lughnasadh, all of the celebrations of the harvest, of the corn and our bread, of the sun and of the first fruits of our labors, I become more aware of the sweetness of the time we have left; that celebrating every second we have and all those dear to us is important.