Summer Comes to Springville Hill, or How the Decemberists’ Lovely Song Makes Me Think of Alabama in April

Here’s a hymn to welcome in the day.
Heralding a summer’s early sway.
And all the bulbs all coming in
To begin.
The thrushes bleating battle with the wrens
Disrupts my reverie again.

Pegging clothing on the line,
Training jasmine how to vine
Up the arbor to your door,
And more.
You’re standing on the landing with the war
You shouldered all the night before.
 

And once upon it
The yellow bonnets
Garland all the lawn.
And you were waking,
And day was breaking.
A panoply of song,
And summer comes to Springville Hill.

A barony of ivy in the trees,
Expanding out its empire by degrees.
And all the branches burst to bloom
In the boom.
Heaven sent this cardinal maroon
To decorate our living room.

And once upon it
The yellow bonnets
Garland all the lawn.
And you were waking,
And day was breaking.
A panoply of song.
And summer comes to Springville Hill.

— “June Hymn,” from The Decemberists’ album The King is Dead.

Listening to this oh-so-pretty song puts me in such a good mellow mood. And I know that the Decemberists are Yankees and are from Up North Somewhere where it’s not until June that the bulbs bloom and the trees flower and winter sort of slinks away. Here in The South, however, March and April — like, right now — is when all that happens. June is when we start complaining about 100-degree heat and it’s only the thought that football is a mere four months away that pulls us through.

 

4 thoughts on “Summer Comes to Springville Hill, or How the Decemberists’ Lovely Song Makes Me Think of Alabama in April

  1. I’m from a similar Northern place like the Decemberists and you’re right, real summer doesn’t start here until after the 4th of July 😉 So I’m listening to that song and wishing it wasn’t grey, cold and rainy!

  2. If you’re curious, The Decemberists live in Portland, OR. (North of the Mason-Dixon line, sure, but not exactly yankee country by my lights.) In any case, summer does come in June, give or take, in Portland, so it works.

    (Springville Hill might refer to a road on the western side of Portland. or it could just be a poetic coincidence.)

  3. Springville Hill is the tippy top spot at the end of Springville Road, overlooking Portland, Oregon. There aren’t too many Yanks (or Southerners, for that matter) here, but if an east coaster visited, we would take them coffee and book shop hopping during the day, then out for a microbrew and live entertainment that evening. The next morning, we’d follow it up with organic brunch, surrounded by verdant greenery alongside the river as loons dive for food and dragonboats practice for Rose Festival. From the hill, you look westward, and you see the immense expanse of the West Hills (remnants of ancient volcanic activity in the area, including 5 cinder cones), covered with Doug fir and red cedar. To the east, the Willamette, Columbia, and skyline of Portland are the background for St. Johns Bridge. I’m writing in January. The crocus are just about ready to pop in our yards, and some wild rhodies should be blooming by next week. From there, it is a long, gentle saunter to June.

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