Sounds of Wind

Monday was World Mental Health Day. To observe, the royal couple joined an intimate gathering of first-responders, medical personnel, and military veterans at the London Eye on the South Bank of the River Thames. One of the photos distinguished itself from the other as particularly enchanting,

Princess Catherine approaches their welcome committee, little Joanne, who’s a student at Liveability’s Victoria Education Centre in Poole, Dorset. In the photo, Catherine leans in to accept a posy from Joanne, almost bowing. She’s adorned in a rose print chiffon and her friend’s bundled in a light pink woolen overcoat. They face one another as we ponder the exchange of affirmations and Joanne offers a knowing smile. Why does the moment evoke subconscious memories of that scene from Star Wars, where Princess Leia curtsies toward R2-D2, pleading, “Help us Obi Wan Kenobi. You’re our only Hope”?

Upon arrival, they mingle and share stories for 30 minutes as The Eye lifts the group skyward for a panoramic bird’s-eye view of London. When unveiled in 1999, the Eye was the world’s tallest Ferris wheel and it’s still the most recognizable. It’s 32 ovoidal, sealed and air conditioned glass canopies, rotate throughout the trip, and hold up to 25 people each. It’s predecessor was commissioned in 1895 for the Empire of India Expedition, and was modeled after the original in Chicago.

The Chicago Wheel was the first of its kind, debuting at 264-ft for the 1893 World’s Fair. It’s 36 cars accommodated up to 60 people, in 40 revolving chairs each, for a total capacity of 2,160 people per run.

An English teacher from Colorado Springs visited the Chicago Fair by steam locomotive that first year. Instructing summer school at Colorado College, she recalled this about her next adventure,

One day some of the other teachers and I decided to go on a trip to 14,000-ft Pikes Peak. We hired a prairie wagon. Near the top we had to leave the wagon and go the rest of the way on mules. I was very tired. But when I saw the view, I felt great joy. All the wonder of America seemed displayed there, with the sea-like expanse.

She jotted a few hasty lines in her notebook during the trip down, then formed them into the first draft of a poem, called Pikes Peak, when she got back to her room at the Antler’s Hotel that night. Today we know Katherine’s poem as America the Beautiful.

“one that was healed went back” – Luke 17:15

Acoustic: America the Beautiful
Artist: Katherine Lee Bates, arr. Siemens (2015)

“O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!”
– Katherine Lee Bates

* xbt not affiliated with siemens™

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