This morning the kids and I were listening to Simon and Garfunkel as we ate our breakfast. As the song began the kids started giggling and moving to the music. Ben's spoon became a drum stick. Jemima starting moving her shoulders up, then down, in her shy kind of way. I wondered if they would remember this sunny spring morning, the way we laughed at each other's silly dancing, and maybe even associate the music with those memories in years to come.
For me Simon and Garfunkel will always take me back to the summer of 2002, many, many, miles away in Cambodia. We were travelling by bus from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh and it was early morning. It had been raining and as the sun bore down steam began to rise from the rich red dirt. Children ran out from their houses to see the foreigners on the bus and as they ran steam danced around their ankles. The rice fields were so green. Not a dark forest green like we were used to in New Zealand, but a bright frog green that was so fresh it made me catch my breath.
Jeremy and I sat towards the front of the bus and opened the windows as wide as they would go. I tried to see everything, all at once. The old man with his trouser legs rolled up, wading through a pond of lotus blossoms as pink as a Barbie convertible. The women carrying impossibly large loads of sticks on their backs. The motorcycle piled high with baskets of live chickens. Two young girls giggling at us from behind their palms. The smoky smell of breakfast being cooked on coals.
As we drove we listened to a tape the driver played of Cambodian music. After a couple of hours we asked him if he would play one of our tapes (yes - we had cassette tapes then!). I rifled through my backpack and pulled out the first one my fingers touched. It was Paul Simon's Greatest Hits. The driver looked bemused as the music started up. Two German girls began to laugh and clap along. Jeremy and I smiled and looked out at the passing villages and fields, not wanting to miss a moment.
And now, probably for the rest of my days, whenever I hear Slip Slidin' Away, I will be right back in Cambodia bumping along a dirt road with a warm breeze on my face and the thrill of unknown adventures ahead of me.
The ability to transport us is one of the true gifts that music offers us. I'm thankful that I have many more Memory Songs like this one.
What are your Memory Songs?