Tuesday, June 19, 2012


April 2012 was notable in my part of Arkansas for how (as Ian Anderson put it in "Aqualung") the flowers bloomed like madness in the spring. I cannot remember ever seeing such lush growth of the honeysuckle, or having the fragrance of it be so nearly overpowering--in the best sense of that word.

It was unusual to the point where I wondered what it could MEAN. The smell would dang near follow you indoors! I was not about to complain over such a wondrous manifestation of the Creator's Hand, but I guess I have just enough Choctaw blood from my great-grandmother to where I wondered if it was a Sign.

Then came April 16th, with the news that Levon Helm was suffering mightily from a recurrence of cancer and wasn't expected to live much longer. Sure enough, he died on the 19th, taking a piece of my soul with him. It was especially grievous, coming so near to the loss of Earl Scruggs on March 28th.

I got to thinking that maybe the honeysuckle had known that Levon was dying--even before we humans got the word--and had decided to give him a gift on his way out of this world. Well, the blooms and the scent continued their pleasant onslaught undiminished through the night of April 26th.

On the morning of Friday, April 27th, the fragrance was GONE just as suddenly as if it had never been there. The blooms were still everywhere--on every possible fence and tree trunk--but their perfume had simply disappeared. The honeysuckle has not smelled since that day.

That was the day they buried Levon Helm. And people can call this a coincidence as long as they want to.


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