Thursday, August 28, 2014

Summer Hoot 2014

As we drove the winding roads through Woodstock, NY making our way to Ashokan, I was a little nervous. Last year's Summer Hoot music festival was so perfect, so blissful, I was sure that this year might be a little of a let down. I was oh so wrong.

Zach loves the place. Upstate NY, Ashokan, the whole setting is just so him. There is forest and water and critters. What else does a boy need? Oh yes, of course friends and freedom. He and his friends took some walkie talkies and wandered the festival, taking in the people watching and the fabulous vendors. Zach loved a woodworker who was creating and selling instruments made from old cigar boxes and the like. He kept hanging out by the saw, just watching and asking questions and admiring the instruments.

And of course there were frogs to catch and play with just like last year. And the kids did a little canoeing and turtle catching too.

Naia calls it "music camp", and she loved just wandering around with the perpetual melodies floating around her so she could do what she loves most, dance and sing and dance and sing.

Her favorite is of course the lovely and talented Elizabeth Mitchell and You Are My Flower. Her family band is so full of heart and joy, it really shines when they perform live. There were two adorable and equally talented young children on stage with her, which really won over Naia. Elizabeth Mitchell really is the soundtrack of Naia's short 3 1/2 year life. We were so grateful to see her perform once again.

I kept waiting for something to be off, or less than fabulous from last year, but it never happened. The whole Summer Hoot is set up with such heartfelt intention and homegrown attention to detail. The music is why we all come, but the gathering is all about family and community and preserving and appreciating the natural world. For the hundreds and hundreds of people coming and going and eating and drinking, there wasn't one piece of trash on the ground. It seemed like everyone there was full of gratitude for the whole scene, nobody seemed to take it for granted.

The music was outstanding again. One thing that really stood out to me was the way the performers took the time to explain and share the origins of songs that were passed on to them. In the telling of the place the song came from, and the people or story behind it, the song becomes not just a performance, but a gift. They're something that these talented musicians collect, and treasure, and generously and beautifully give to others so that the music lives on. The interpretations vary, but the roots remain.

And the musical gifts didn't just flow from the stages. Once again we camped out in the "noisy" campground, which was wisely renamed this year...

This year Doug volunteered to be the tent parent while friends and I made our way under an impossibly starry sky to hang out with the music makers of the campsite after bedtime. The Milky Way sparkled overhead while banjo, guitar, bass, and perfect harmony drifted into the cool night.  And it kept going during the day too.

Around every corner there was something wonderful. A woman doing yoga by the water generously welcomed Naia to interrupt her moment of peace and join her on the mat for some stretching.

A swing hung from a tree right by the homemade ice cream stand.

Jay and Molly Unger perform with their kids Mike + Ruthy. Mike and Ruthy's daughter toddles on stage and starts nursing, the music never stopped and mama never missed a beat. So fabulous!

So once again, we're left smiling and grateful and blissed out from our long weekend at the Summer Hoot and we can't wait for next year!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Cousin love

My middle brother's first child is exactly 3 weeks older than Zach. In other words, they are first cousins and exactly the same age. Truly, on paper, the boys have precisely nothing in common. They don't have the same pastimes, they don't read the same books, they don't even really like the same movies. They live such different lives it's almost like country mouse, city mouse. But they adore each other.

These two little buddies pal around like happy puppy dogs, wrestling and joking and planning and playing until the stars are up and snoring is the last sound we hear.

So much boy cousin buddy time that a certain little someone began to feel a tad left out. There was a whole lot of, "Hey wait for me!"

Listening in I hear them whisper about being best friends, and giggle about the things that make 10 year old boys giggle, and it seems so easy and safe and wonderful. I wish they had more than once a year, sometimes not even that, to spend time together. But I am grateful they always seem to pick right up where they left off.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Michigan again, and again

It's the time of the year where we pack ourselves into the car like a bunch of traveling sardines and use an entire day of our short lives hurtling across the turnpikes and interstates. When we stop the car after 12 long hours of flat nothing we hop out and see this.

Ah, yes... Lake Michigan! This is where is all began, where I learned to sail many moons ago. My parents have had this cabin here on the lake since I was 8 years old. That's a mighty long time. So long that bringing my kids here is starting to get a bit trippy.

They're sleeping on the beds I slept in. They're playing with the same old toys and family odds and ends I used to play with. And they're loving that beach right out the front door and down the thousand million stairs to the bluff as much as I've always loved it.

Some things have changed here. The most notable is me. Of course I am a middle aged mom and no longer a care free kid or freedom seeking teen. Some well worn paths are overgrown now. A new set of stairs replaces the old. The old camp is gone and a fancy house in its place. Some old faces are missing. And my old sailboat decided to wander off too.

But the thing that really struck me was how much of this place is the same. The same old cabin of course, maybe a fresh coat of paint and some new pillows, but so much is the same. The same old National Geographic magazines on the shelves that I used to spend hours pouring over. The same beach kitsch decor. The same funky smelling blankets. The same wobbly table where I played cards with my grandma. The same retro chairs where my sandy bottom sat and ate lunch now my kids' sandy bottoms sit at meal time. The same original beadboard ceilings on the sleeping porch. The same bowls and vases filled with beach treasures.

It's weird, and it makes you feel small, but also full of wonder all at once. The waves march on against the sandy shores. The sun will set again and again, showing off a new pallet of colors each time. The spiders will keep lurking in the dusty corners. And a new generation forms memories here.

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