So It May Secretly Begin (listen) is a song track from my favorite Pat Metheny album, Still Life (Talking). I have listened to this album, especially this song, hundreds of times—driving, falling asleep, studying, romancing. I like its fluid elegance. It starts softly, tentatively, as if expressing contemplation or uncertainty. As it moves along, it becomes stronger, more assured. Lyle Mays’ keyboard starts a conversation that is at first playful, then turns more serious. Pat’s guitar banters, fully engaged in the conversation. The guitar opens with a few questions, and then an exuberance of notes takes over. Crescendo followed by decrescendo—never quite the same—delicate arpeggios that alternate longing and fulfillment. With each change, it offers a playful smile in the form of a flourish of notes.
I love this song. Whenever I hear it, I’m immediately transported. It’s summer. I’m falling in love anew. I’m laughing and joking and teasing and walking and enjoying—everything.
I first encountered crocosmia arpeggios while flipping through the pages of a gardening book. I stared at the image—the flower was so unusual. It struck me as musical. No question—THAT had to be in my garden. I searched a year before finding a nursery that sold them. I wanted yellow, but the nursery was always sold out. Red was all I could get—so, red it would be.
Crocosmia plants, if you’ve never grown one, are surprising. Like every plant, they start small. At its base, a typical plant may be no more than two feet in diameter. But in full bloom, the dome of the plant can spread out to four feet or more. Allowing my eye to travel slowly from the base to its effusive dome of blossoms, is somehow a musical experience, no different than allowing my ears to hear my favorite Pat Metheny song. Each stalk divides into multiple clusters of blooms that end in visual crescendos. Follow multiple stalks, and a rhythm emerges. I see riffs, motifs, and chord changes; I hear Pat’s guitar.
The crocosmia is one of the two flowers that made me buy a camera. My attempts to capture the sweep of the plant and the arpeggios of blossoms using an iPhone 4s always fell short. The play of light across each arpeggio was missing, and the sweep from base to dome was replaced by a simple, static profile. In all of my 4s shots, they look big and bushy, not elegant and exuberant. Many snaps later, even with a camera, I still have no image that captures everything I want it to convey.
Perhaps, I am doomed to fail. Perhaps, I am chasing an ideal. I want an image that conveys walking and laughing and joking and falling in love, anew. But, no image can because it’s all inside my head. Perhaps, the best way to capture the image I want is to close my eyes and allow remembrance to secretly begin…