I don’t know what prompted me to reach for my phone and search for “Cat Stevens”, but last Monday I found myself dancing in the kitchen with my baby on my hip singing, “glide on the peace train“. A pot of dahl was simmering on the stove, which felt entirely appropriate for the 1970’s tunes decorating our day. I grew up eating my mother’s dahl fortnightly, if not weekly, so perhaps that is why I suddenly found myself missing these tunes. You see, my mother adores Cat Stevens. When I hear Where Do The Children Play and Moonshadow, I remember being around ten years old and standing near the cd player in our living room. It’s dark, so it must be the evening, probably a Saturday night… I am standing and listening and mum is listening and moving to the music, telling us of the time when she was 17 years old and won tickets to his concert via a radio competition to sit right at the front and meet him afterwards. We are getting ready to watch a movie, the five of us, probably something science fiction, which is precisely the opposite of what I’d choose to watch if I had my way, but I always liked hanging out with my family (and there was always chocolate), so I was happy.
Last week, when Morning Has Broken started to play, I began to cry. Often when I think of losing my older brother I am comforted by the familiarity of my feelings. It’s a mix of deep sadness, regret and longing, as well as joy for the time we did get together. But while hearing the music of our childhood and remembering, as I held baby Joan in my arms, I felt a different kind of sadness. It’s heavier and darker and I don’t quite know what to make of it yet, but it’s there… and I’m sure I’ll figure it out soon, because I keep wanting to listen to Morning Has Broken, and so it keeps coming up. The following day when Ben was working from home I called out to him but he didn’t respond. I went into his office to find him typing away with his headphones in. “Are you on a call?”, I asked. “No, I’m listening to music…Cat Stevens.”
Sweet the rain’s new fall, sunlit from heaven.
Here is the dahl recipe I make. It’s different from my mothers but Ben adores it, as do I, and I hope you might too.