Early in the process of writing Carolina Harmony, I wanted to fall into story, to imagine myself in her world. I’d put on a Mary Chapin Carpenter CD. One piece of music truly spoke to me. It touched my heart and filled my mind with images. The notes played soft and gentle. I’d lie down, close my eyes, tune out all my cares, and in my imagination, I’d see the catbird. I saw it come down out of the clouds, saw it flying high above the mountains, saw it coming closer, flapping its wings over the tops of trees, and closer still, gliding over the farm, coming closer and closer until finally it perched on a branch high in the Tulip tree. Then, as if by magic, I could see the view from that catbird’s eyes. The music picked up pace and I saw a dog chasing a cat that slipped under the ragged gray boards of the barn. I saw a tractor off in the distance, mowing a hayfield. Up close, chickens were pecking in the barnyard. On the other side of the lawn, sheets on the clothesline lifted up in a breeze. The catbird flapped its wings and flew again. This time I was flying along with it. We flew high above a wide pasture and looked down upon a girl running along a yellow-colored dirt lane, going as fast as her legs could carry her. That girl was Carolina. She was scared and alone. She was running for help.
Just before the lyrics began, I turned off the music and started writing.
What is amazing and beautiful to me is that the catbird from my imagination became real.
When I was working on the revisions of Carolina Harmony, the catbird came and perched in the tree right beyond my garden. There it was like a messenger of heavenly encouragement telling me to stop frettin’ and get back to work.