Well, damn, I’m home. I wasn’t going to write today – I was giving myself another day off, but I’m on the couch and I REALLY don’t want to get up and think about touching the dirty clothes, so I might write a bit right now. (Added later: I just wrote a HELL of a lot, so make this one last. I’ll write again on Wednesday, prolly.)
Strawberry Festival, 2004
Friday morning, I have not even started to pack. In fact, I haven’t even thought much about packing, because if I do think about it, Digit will freak out. I like to put off that part as long as possible. So I hang out with the little mama, have some coffee, check email for the last time. Then I go to grab my sleeping bag from the closet where I keep it. Digit has peed on it, and on the CASHMERE sweater that was on the shelf above it. He hit two things: The sweater, and the sleeping bag, and the pee is only minutes old, since I had been in the closet (stop it) fifteen minutes before. The cat is amazing. And horrible.
Dad was up there the day before, and had our site all picked out. He had traveled up in his Volvo pick-up truck (he removed the trunk and added a wooden contraption). Isn’t he proud?
We were at the back of beyond, as far as it is humanly possible to camp from the main stage, and even farther from Birch Lake, but because we were on the very edge of camp, there was nothing behind us but a wooded hill. Mom napping:
And because we were on a hill, we slept on a hill. Dude, I can’t WAIT to sleep on the level tonight. Our site was great and large and very, very nice, but I hate waking up in a crumpled, slid-down ball at the end of the tent, y’know? But all things considered, it was lovely. The only things missing were my sisters, neither of whom could attend. It just wasn’t the same without them.
Music kids are nice. I forget that. I think I generally consider children as whining loud things that get underfoot and cost the earth, because I pretty much only see them in the grocery store. But these bluegrass kids, they’re all polite. They use Nice Words. They’re quiet at night. I watched three older ones play Yahtzee for about four hours without coming to blows. It’s weird.
Man, there’s been a baby boom in the generation of bluegrass aficionados, because not only were there about a thousand five-year olds running around (I might exaggerate a little), but baby after teeny baby went by. I mean itsy-bitsy! While we were at the revival at the lake on Sunday morning (always one of my favorite parts—music going on, but families playing and laughing, all ages just kind of hanging out and being happy), Mom and I watched a couple of women juggle their wee ones. She guessed the smallest was about six weeks old, and it turned out she was spot on. She said, “You went camping for the first time when you were six weeks old, you know. Dad took a bunch of kids off the reservation up to the mountains to camp and we took you in that basket that’s out in the garage. You traveled in it, and slept in it, and it was so easy.” I do remember seeing an incredible photo of Mom, sitting under a tree in a meadow, the basket at her feet, and I remember hearing that I was IN the basket, but I don’t think I ever knew it was a camping trip. Explains a lot. Here we are the revival:
And kids are nice because people dance with them.
And they get to blow bubbles.
Where would I start? I can’t tell you about all of ‘em, ‘cause that would take too long, and I’m already long-winded as it is. But I’ll hit my favorite two:
1. Martin Sexton—the man can do things with his voice that I’ve never heard done before. He’s got a three-octave range, and he ain’t even trying. And the lyrics to his songs? This is what happened: I was sitting in the Music Meadow with the little mama, trying to cool off. The sun was full blaze, and we thought we’d just stay for a few songs to see how we liked him. Mom ended up in the back in the shade, but she stayed for the whole thing (hard to do at three in the afternoon). I ended up dancing, not caring about the heat or the dust, just needing to dance. His lyrics made me want to rush home right THEN to write. To finish the novel. To start a new one. To write poetry (god forbid). The tiki I wear heated in the sun and burned my neck just as I felt that I would break into pieces if I didn’t write and keep writing.
That’s some powerful singing, I tell you.
2. The Websters—absolutely my favorite of the festival. If you like traditional music, sung by two sisters whose voices blend better than red wine and candlelight, go buy it right now. Seriously. I haven’t heard anything as wonderful in a long, long time. And I hear lots of wonderful things. Plus, and this is probably not related, but I believe I’m in love with elder sister Chris Webster (on the right).
Any girl in a cowboy hat is a good thing. Period. And her sister Cassie, holding the coffee cup, is wearing an Oakland shirt. I heart them. Go buy it now and then get back to me. Or at least go sample one. (I love “There is a Balm in Gilead”).
If you’re squeamish, you may want to skip this part. Okay. I warned you. When I camp, I have a philosophy (this only applies if you’re sleeping alone—if you have a tent-mate, please discuss prior to implementation). The philosophy goes like this: Skip the shower. C’mon. You’re camping. Showers involve long lines and icky gooey floors and drippy leftover tiny pieces of greenish soap.
Instead, swim once every day. While you’re swimming in the lake, rub legs and arms briskly with hands, and run your hands through your hair while underwater. Then walk back to camp, dive into the tent and use moist towelettes to clean off whatever dirt remains. You’ll be fine, I promise. The hair gets more and more interesting, but you feel clean enough.
Of course, this only works if you go swimming, and if you remember to bring the moist towelettes. I did neither. Whoops. Here are my nails yesterday:
I won’t even show you my feet, just know that they took some SERIOUS scrubbing when I came home. Oatmeal scrub, no less.
I am very dirty by this point:
Music festival people, when not high, are the best. Even when they’re high, they’re just mellow on weed and too much beer in the sun. My favorite exchange of the weekend, bar none, went like this: We passed a tent that was flying the Aussie flag, which is a Union Jack and four stars. The New Zealand flag is identical, but has five stars. My kiwi mother yelled, “Hey! Your flag is missing a star!” From behind the tent we heard a growl, “Er, bugger off!” I laughed for half an hour.
The weather was mostly great, not too hot, not too cold at night. Today, though, it heated up, and on the long sweaty drive home, the only thing that kept me going was the thought of lovely cool Oakland. There’s a point in the drive where suddenly the Bay air hits you, and you know you’ll survive. Today, that never happened. It’s still hotter than hell, and Digit peed in the doorway as greeting. Fer eff’s sake. There was also a note on my counter that read, “Ask us about our Great Escape. If we plead the fifth, call our Aunt Jenn for details.”
Yep, when Jenn came over to feed the cats one night, she found one cat in front and one in back, having ripped out the dining room screen. We were lucky—they’ve never been outside here before and neither wears a collar. Oooh, Jenn had a few things to say to them, as did I.
But I’m glad to be home. There. Whew. I need to go clean more things now.
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