Noe Venable

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A Juniper moment if ever there was one

Posted by on Jul 24, 2015

A Juniper moment if ever there was one

I had to share this sweet moment from yesterday– Ember dreaming up in a tree he climbed.  We love the Botanical Garden these days, and the AIDS Memorial Grove, where we spend our mornings with other parents and little ones.  We dig in the dirt, splash in the puddles, savor simple things…  A pint of raspberries.  An almond cookie.  Talk and laughter under the trees.


Ember tree climber


At home in the wee hours, I spend every available moment working on my new album.  Percussion plays a big role on this one.  So I went all out with New York percussionist Mathias Kunzli.  Following our sessions, I found I had as many as thirty different tracks to sort through on some songs!  Since then, I’ve been arranging and rearranging, cutting and pasting, winnowing it down to what needs to be there, and nothing more.  Mathias says this album is my Graceland.  That’s not an album I’ve listened to a whole lot, but I’m certainly inspired by some of the same musical traditions that Simon was drawing on there.  I envy him his time spent in South Africa.  Miriam Makeba has been a heroine of mine since I read her incredible autobiography this past year.  There are so many world music musicians I would love to learn from, so many traditions I’d love to immerse in and explore.

The world feels wider to me since I became a mother, more full of wisdom, connection, and other forms of richness.  Now I see and feel how many things there are to learn about beyond the radius of the places we go every day.  It’s humbling and fulfilling, learning about hunter gatherer peoples who long lived according to wisdom which I as a mother am only just now beginning to uncover.  And it’s heart wrenching to also see how much these peoples have had to endure over the last few hundred years, forced to abandon those ancient ways and languages, having their precious children taken from them and “educated,” pulled out of their sacred context and thrust into a world that made no sense.

As a Mother in this world, I pray that we are now in the midst of a Great Turning.  Sometimes I think we are.  Some of you, listeners and friends, have encouraged me in this– have pointed to people and movements who swim against the tide of forgetting, and to how those movements are gaining members, gaining steam.  But in the end, I think we are each alone in our awakening, infinitely held in that alone-ness with the beauty and depth of what our soul is coming to see.

There’s that famous Rumi quote–

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.”

It’s an especially apt quote, since mostly, I actually do spend my days lying in grass with a small boy.  Together, we seek our own path to connect with earth and elements, with an enspirited world.  We come to the same trees again and again, in search of roly polies, worms and squirrels.  Ember communes with a heron, while an older woman reprimands me for letting my child get too close to nature.  We continue to explore.  Ember runs, hides in the enormous fronds of a green bush next to the pond.  He feels the strength of his legs, the feel of the wind on his cheeks.  He gets a sharp lesson from a goose when he gets too close.  He laughs, looks, rests.

All this is in my new album, I think.  But even louder, this time, are the voices of ancestors.  I am not sure who they are.  But I don’t doubt that they teach us how to meet the needs of our children, especially in the ancient ways, ways that go against so much of what is commonly advised in our culture.

I’m just trying to get it all down on tape, and do right by it.  Next Friday will be our next big album workday– I’ll be at Tiny Telephone, recording Todd Sickafoose on piano, bass, and perhaps a few synths just to add a little spaciousness on a few songs.

It’s incredibly disarming to hear Ember sing my new songs.  The other day in the car he was chirping the lyrics to one of them, called “All the Animals.”

“Oceans alive with eyes unseen

All the animals call her Queen

Oceans alive with eyes unseen

All the animals call her Queen

So why not I?

Why not I?  Why not I?”


Well, I’m up early to work, so must get to it.

Thanks for reading, all!




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