Suggests Don Ashford of KTRT 97.5 The Root, Winthrop, WA
My Lonely Violin
About nine years ago, I traded my god-awful television set — I had eschewed goggling the goggle box for years, and a big oak table for a graceful violin. I do not have a background in music, save for a school year of cello when I was in third grade. (And I seriously doubt I have retained much of that.) But I adore Celtic and bluegrass fiddle and viola, and the telly and table were no longer doing me any favors — as well as being cumbersome to cart around during my nomadic period. I thought the trade would be a good one. And it was. Sort of. A violin is lightweight and easy to haul about.
I took one lesson.
I never followed up that first lesson with a second, and once the violin needed tuning, I tucked her away in a hard, dark case, leaning the case against one wall or another to collect dust. I silenced her. It was a cruel thing to do.
The learning curve for a violin is a steep one, so I started to dream of playing mandolin. But that never happened either. Now I dream of ukuleles. Yep, I think a ukulele would suit me well. I listened to Jake Shimabukuro play ukulele on NPR. He is a ukulele virtuoso, mastering everything from Classical to Queen. His playing is gorgeous. Inspirational. And yes, intimidating.
I aspire to “Tiptoe Through the Tulips.” You know, Tiny Tim?
I very much want to find a loving home for my elegant and lonely violin; she deserves a better life than I can offer her. And then I will welcome a lighthearted and goofy ukulele (apologies, Jake) into my life. I’m not saying it is going to be cake, learning to play, but I do feel a kindred spirit with the uke.
The Hills Are Alive
Even way out here, at the local brewpub in a small turista town 25 miles down-valley from my wee abode, my wee abode that sits at the end of a spur road a stone’s throw from wilderness (if you have a good arm), and one ridgeline over from a scenic mountain highway that is closed from around Thanksgiving until maybe sometime in May — but I digress — we get us some really good music. Our river and mountain valley is home to some amazing musicians, and Stephanie at the brewpub wrangles up some mighty fine musicians and bands. Come for the beer! Stay for the music! Pick up a Mountain Gazette! Trust me, the service really has improved!
Musicians travel here from faraway places like Seattle, Olympia, Portland and beyond. They travel here from both sides of the majestic slopes and from across state lines. They walk down the road from their cozy cabins and they play. And for the night, while they are playing, I fall in love with each and every one of them.
And then I make the long trek back up-valley, wink at my violin, and dream of ukuleles.
Taking a Breath
This poem saw print in the Mountain Gazette quite some time ago, I’m pretty sure. A former boyfriend was my muse for this piece, written well after I couldn’t find love and we had gone our separate ways. There will always be a warm place in my heart for a man who can play…
I COULD LOVE A MUSICIAN
He looks a little old
but he plays real young,
sitting there by the woodstove,
thick fingers dancing across thin strings,
toes a’ tap.
His sound is warm when I come in
kicking snow packed in worn lugs,
pulling pieces of ice from hair hanging down,
Playing the Blues
(always the blues)
he carves a long easy look my way,
glacier-gray eyes crevassed at the edges,
like his smile,
like the rest of him.
I don’t remember where he plays tonight,
but he is here,
Walking across the room,
I lift the back of his shirt just a little
putting chilled hands onto the heat of him,
against the small of his back,
and wonder what will happen next.
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