13 days to go

 May 16th

Met at my house, once again with Mother, who seems to be moving beyond the sorrow that gets created by the pretty music, and who is beginning to listen to the lyrics.  Sometimes she locks her eyes on to mine as I sing something, say, Our days, distilled, were 90 proof; Our nights were vintage wine; but nothing got me higher than the way we spent our time, and she nods with recognition.

Mother in a pensive mood.
We’re sitting on Brett & Louis’ lovely patio

Sweet. A good rehearsal.

Maggie and I’ve created a pdf: a description with photos that’s gone out to our hosts, and I’ve begun to talk to a few of them on the phone, about such things as what food to serve, and numbers expected. It’s all feeling more and more concrete.  I am reminded of the Goethe quote:

Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back.

This whole thing was just an idea. Ever since we first conceived of and agreed upon the tour, one or the other of us could have said, “You know, Sands, after all…” or “I’ve been thinking, Maggie, and…”  Either of us could have come up with myriad excellent reasons for not committing to this madcap, celebratory journey:

The weekend before we leave, Maggie has back-to-back concerts; less than two weeks after we return from the Great Water Dragon Southwest Tour, she heads out on a Northwest tour (Washington & Oregon) with her fabulous Euro-jazz/gypsy band Beaucoup Chapeaux; she has a husband, a son who lives nearby, cats, dogs, a horse, a garden, as well as writing to accomplish to finish her Cumberland Gap Suite. I’ve an elderly mother, and a sister who takes care of her all the time—the two weeks of our tour fall in the months when it’s my turn to help with Mother’s care—and Brett is being hugely generous in letting me have this time to play, in every sense of the word. I’m seldom home as it is, and I too have garden, cats, friends and family to feed and water, as well as writing projects that I’m pushing to the back burner. But, and here’s more Goethe:

Concerning all kinds of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth,         the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too.

And so Maggie and I are putting one foot in front of the other, ever more concretely manifesting the molecular thing that is an idea into the world. The instruments, shuttled between my house and hers. The accoutrements: stands for our guitars; assorted picks, capos, tuners; our binders full of music. We print out more lyrics. We scribble ideas in their margins. We work a harmonic idea, and work it again.  And again. Concert hosts call with great news about the guest lists that are forming. Maggie replaces her lost driver’s license. I book  an SUV, but after asking around for advice, replace it with a mini-van. I head to AAA to pick up maps of Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, Colorado; I buy not one but two batteries for my tuner.

All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.

Phew! Big stuff. And yet, I’ve experienced the magic Goethe describes—“Providence” moving into place to support the endeavor. I think we all have—when we decide to go for it, whatever “it” is.

Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it.

So, here we are, not only beginning, but getting ever more certain on harmonies and instrumentations. “That arpeggio has just four notes,” Maggie says, “Don’t start that descending line until we’re finished singing you-ou, and then it will end just right.”

And it does. We grin.

Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.

I’m not sure how bold it all is, although I suppose climbing in a mini van with our instruments on May 28th and driving 900+ miles to the first destination might be bold; or what genius we can claim other than the hard work of doing what we do and being there when the genie decides to visit; but there is magic—constantly.

“The harmony is great on not a word did I get from her that night,” I say to Maggie, both of us scribbling on the papers in our binders, “and maybe also sing on nor a kiss from her pretty red mouth.”

We’re working on “South Coast the Wild Coast.”

And,” I begin, and Maggie is already nodding, agreeing with the idea that’s struck us at the same time: “Let’s have both voices on, The lion screamed in the Barranca, but maybe just one voice for the pony fell back in the slide… ”

As we end rehearsal, and I follow Maggie to her car carrying the accordion, the UPS van (magically) rolls down the driveway, brushing through blooming thickets of Scotch Broom. I’m delighted: it means a sturdy music stand has arrived, to replace my flimsy one, as well as a stand for the mandolin and a clever device that grips onto a mic stand to hold violin and bow. I carry these boxes in to the house, where Mother, sitting at the dining room table, watches me open them. As I ratchet the violin holder onto the pole of the music stand, and settle the mandolin into its new cradle, she smiles, her blue eyes alight with pleasure, and says, “Isn’t that perfect!”

Mother toasting.
Photo: VIki Brake

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