Summer Musings and News

Dear music friends,

“Can you hear the June bugs tappin’ at the screen?” Thank you for your patience with me as I continue to develop a vision for my album One Breath, which I had hoped to release in May.  The work remains in progress and I keep writing new songs, so it’s either getting longer or the next album has already started to arrive! This Saturday June 9 from 7:30-9:30 I share music in Burlington, Wis., and on Saturday, June 23 I return to the Café Carpe to share the evening with my friend and fellow singer-songwriter John Stano. New songs seem likely to want to be shared at one or both of these concerts. Please visit my website (kaiafowler.com/shows) for details. Now for the musings . . .

My good friend Ken Fall recently showed me an essay he wrote, and it got me thinking about Summer. Not summer, the season, but Summer as a bigger concept, as a way of living, as a state of being. For many of us who grew up in America, summer break represents freedom and wide expanses of time for exploration and play. Most adults engage in careers, family life and other commitments that crowd out Summer, and as Ken says in his essay, vacation—no matter its length—cannot come close to creating the Summer experience of our childhoods. Yet, he argues, we can resurrect Summer for ourselves by how we choose to live in each moment and each day, through our thoughts about our lives, and through decisions we make about what we do and how we do it. (At least that is what I took away from reading his essay. I invite you to read the essay titled Manifesto for a Resurrection—posted here—and what it says to your heart.)

What did you love doing over summer break as a child? Flying kites, riding bikes, swimming at the lake? What can you do today—or this summer—that will bring you that feeling again? Our time constraints and physical limitations may alter what, when, and how we create Summer now, but they do not have to rob us of Summer completely. I am thankful that he reminded me of this opportunity to create Summer as we walk along the lakeshore path, pull weeds in our gardens, wait for tomatoes to ripen, or simply sit on the porch and breathe the warm air.

This reminder comes at an especially opportune time for me because I am in the midst of a transition year. After over 20 years of parenting as my primary life activity and main responsibility, I find that phase of my life ending abruptly. My younger son becomes an adult this summer and heads off to college in the fall. As I watch his childhood come to an end, I find myself drifting from the dock of mothering, the tether loosening, lengthening, letting go. Where will the water currents and wind carry me? Though I feel the loss inherent to endings, I hope to grieve this loss smoothly and swiftly. How much better to see this period of my life as a Summer, to be explored and relished with joy!

I hesitate to express any longing for freedom and life exploration because it makes it sound like I view parenting as drudgery, as unwelcome labor, and I do not. I feel no longing to be free of mothering. Just as when I was a child, I didn’t chafe to be free of the school year. I always loved schoolwork. During summer break, I looked forward to fall when school would start again. I relished the sense of purpose and achievement school provided. Likewise, I have always loved the work of mothering my children (even if there were some moments I didn’t much like!). Mothering is good work, creative work, hard work, and I feel grateful I was given the chance to do it. What I mean when I say it’s better to see this time as Summer, is that I choose to approach the changes in my life with play. I know I have other good work to do in this life, and I look forward to approaching it with a sense of abundance.

So, as I feel the sorrow of goodbye, still my heart leaps with all the promise of the open sea and the seaworthy vessel of my life. I continue, now mothering adult children, and still singing and writing songs and sharing them with the world, doing my part, earning a living, loving my family and friends and the strangers I pass on the street. I am thankful to Ken for the reminder that Summer hovers within reach in this moment, a thought, a feeling, a perspective away. Wishing all of you a lovely summer, and many wonderful experiences of Summer now and always!

In sunshine and in summer storms,
Kaia

P.s.
I am reminded as I write this that—for children who live in poverty—summer break doesn’t represent freedom and play. Children living in food insecure households face higher risk of hunger in the summer, as they no longer have access to free or reduced priced lunches at school. There are some summer food programs, and local food pantries help. As important as government assistance programs like SNAP (food stamps) and WIC are to families and our economy, they provide an insufficient safety net. So, if you’re interested, FeedingAmerica.org provides some great ideas for getting involved in ending hunger. They don’t have all food pantries listed, though, so I recommend people look to their local county social services office if you or someone you know is in need. Wishing abundance for everyone!

Hitting Pause

Kaia Fowler

Dear music friends,
It’s been nearly a month since the winter solstice when a companion and I sat in an unlit room surrounded by the sounds of David Hykes Hearing Solar Winds album, meditating and breathing and being. There, my consciousness floating in the dark, I realized a need for rest and comfort lay unmet inside me, lost in the fullness of daily life. I needed a hug and a nap and permission to be without doing anything. I needed to hit the pause button on life and give my soul a chance to catch up. 

I am thankful that I listened and responded generously to that need communicated to me in the dark. I have been resting more, taking gentle walks, and soaking in hot baths soothed by the scent of lavender and the suspension of time. After the meditation in the dark, my companion and I lit a string of cheerful light bulbs, celebrating both the wisdom of the darkness and the comfort of light. We selected the album Kom Regnto by Norwegian artists Anne-Lise Berntsen and Nils Henrik Asheim to welcome the lengthening days and acknowledge the complex feelings surfacing with our awareness of the passage of time. 

Winter holidays awaken memories of past celebrations, evoking nostalgic reveries tinged with melancholy.  Experiences like the stars bright in the crisp night air as I stand in my yard and the mysterious drifting of freezing fog as I drive along rural roads remind me how small I am in the scope of time and space. The same realization filled me recently in downtown St. Louis where I observed the stone edifices standing resolutely nearly 100 years after they were built by ambitious developers keen to create something that would last. Do we all, at some level, hope to create something enduring?

I recently watched episodes of Jazz by Ken Burns, and a segment on Louis Armstrong’s trumpet solos resonated with me.  The narrator commented on Armstrong’s gift for distilling a melody down to its essential notes and then releasing them over the frenzy of the jazz band in such a way that he seemed to stop time. During an era when life felt increasingly busy and hectic, when time became precious and demanding, Armstrong suspended time with his trumpet solos. They soared above the bustle of the rhythm section, reassuring in their grace and beauty, unattached to the driving beat, free. Armstrong’s trumpet notes, whether sweet or sassy, lifted spirits to that timeless space, pausing cares and responsibilities, inviting listeners to simply be there and then with the music. Thanks to recordings, we have the ability to experience that gift of suspended time with his music even now, so many years later. His genius endures. 

For most of us, life has gotten busier and more demanding since the jazz age. I find that I seek opportunities to slip free of time and space as often as I can while still achieving what I hope to achieve with my days. Music, whatever the genre, whether recorded or live in concert, gives us the chance to be in a time-free zone for a while, even as our body feels the pulse of time passing. Once again, I thank each of you for your support of the music I make. I hope you find yourself free to enjoy music, and to escape into timelessness, often in this New Year. 

That concludes my musings, now for some news. I have begun recording my new album, One Breath, and am working with some wonderful musicians for accompaniment. I believe it will my most satisfying work yet, and I look forward to sharing it with you. Target release date is mid-May. Watch for more details and a pre-order fundraising campaign to be announced within the next month.

Wishing all of you well, always. I am forever grateful to you for your enjoyment of the music I create. Hope to see you at a show soon!

With love in shadows and in light,
Kaia
 
2018 concert schedule (more TBA as dates firm up):

Feb. 16 at 7pm | JustGoods Listening Room, Rockford, Illinois

March 2 or 16 at 8 or 8:30pm (final date and time available soon) | Café Carpe, Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin

March 10 at 7:30pm | The Coffee House, Milwaukee, Wisconsin (with SistaStrings)

March 23 at 3:30pm | Marquardt Village, Watertown, Wisconsin

July 19 at 7pm | Crescendo Expresso Bar + Music Café, Madison, Wisconsin (with Beth Kille)

Nov. 10 | Private House Concert, Washington D.C.

 

The latest schedule is always at kaiafowler.com/shows.