“Simple Gifts” is a Shaker song written and composed by Elder Joseph Brackett in 1848. The song has been adapted and rearranged many times by musicians since then. I find it wonderfully haunting and lyrical, and felt as though I wanted to learn to play it on my dulcimer. My version is played “by ear” and adapted to my own style of strumming. Here are the lyrics (to verse one):
‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free
‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come ’round right.
Research shows me that the references to “turning” in the last lines are identified as dance motions for traditional participants, and by the time the music has ended, everyone would’ve ended up back in the place they once started. There are other verses, too. You might want to check out this lovely song on your own.
Farmer’s Market Season is over for the year, so I’m able to get a lot of work done around the house. I spent time in Egarden this past weekend, cleaning out overgrown weeds and saving flower heads for seeds for next year. And a recent wind storm gave me a BUNCH of sticks in the grassy area between the house and the alpaca pasture. I’ve collected them to use in the fireplace soon, but for now, am also making some of these. They will be used for flower vases or other decorations.
I spent time cleaning out around a fig bush, from which I harvested figs for making jelly. But I also cut out and saved…..kudzu vines! I’ll let them dry out, then soak again to weave into baskets or wreathes.
Simple gifts from nature. Seems like so little, but really, they have the potential to be so much more.