Travels with MaryE

Most things I love best are about good light and good timing. That's where the adventures start. Don't be in no hurry here. Here you'll find a little bit about bluegrass music, fox hunting, life on the road, time on the mountain, and a whole lot about other things, too.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Small coinkydinks

A fox has his day in the sun...and the last laugh, too. He refused to pose.

Any of you out there like me? I don't believe in coinkydinks. No sir. There's no such animal as a coincidence. Just ask me; it's all part of the plan. Paths cross for a reason.

Yesterday I picked up about a week and a half's mail at the local post office (it's a long ride on a mule but I ain't got a mule so I had to drive my Toyota down there). Mind it's like 100 degrees yesterday even way up here on the mountain. I get down to the intersection where there's the postage stamp-sized post office, a small service station and a tiny market and as always there's a collection of pickup trucks in various states of dilapidation parked outside, skew, askew, and however in relation to the narrow 2 lane road that leads on up the hill. But one big red truck gleams, casting all others in shadow. And on the front of that manly truck is a big ole...snowplow! Can you imagine seeing a snowplow hooked up to a pickup on a day when it's 100 degrees in the mountains? So I figured out who the "culprit" probably was and walkly in and casually called over to him, "They callin' fer snow to-night?" and that brought a bit of a roar. John's a good ole fella so I figured he could handle the grief all right.

The mail includes two packets from the UK (my thoughts kept turning to the UK several times yesterday.) Hmm. Coinkydink? I think not. There's a CD from my singer/songwriter buddy Mark Evans whom I met at Sore Fingers last year -- he's put out a CD called, "I Crawl Out," and it's a dandy, too. I was reading the liner notes and....there's my name, thanking me for giving him the song. Well, I did not. But it was probably meant to be (and I'm sure proud to see my name on his CD). But I did NOT deserve it. See I was writing about a songwriting class he and 20 others were taking with Nashville songwriter Darrell Scott and there was this bit in the beginning where everyone had to go around the room and tell their "story" so to speak - you know, a kind of "getting-to-know-you" sort of exercise. And most of these folks were a little sort of touchy-feely, talking about their muse and (oh my God!) emotions and things that few of the Brits I've ever met would dare even think about in the privacy of their own caves, let alone reveal to a roomful of other living souls! Pretty amazing. So folks are telling their names and all this good stuff and maybe a bit about particular songwriting interests or bents. And toward the end of it there's this very sort of dark cloudy quiet guy who speaks very softly and doesn't really make eye contact and he starts telling about how there was a time some years ago when he actually went out and did an open-stagey kind of thing for songwriters and some media person really liked what he did and wrote him up large in the paper....and how he got kind of scared and "crawled back in" to his hole, cave, or wherever he was living at the time (kind of like that little teeny turtle I kept in that plastic container with the island and the palm tree used to do when you scratched him the wrong way).

And so I found that intriguing and took careful notes of just how he said it. When breaktime came, being naturally intrigued by my opposites - reticent type folks - I walked up to him and said something about how I enjoyed his story and knew what he meant - and how I hoped that now that he'd crawled out again with his songwriting that he wouldn't get scared this time - and would stay out for awhile and let folks hear what he has to say. He looked a little puzzled at first and I believe I just happened to have my reporter's pad there and I read what he'd said verbatim. The light came on and he laughed self-consciously. Well I didn't think much more about it after that, but Mark did. I ran into him on the night after the final day of classes, just before we were all heading out our separate ways for home and he looked really really bad. Like sort of barely alive and I started thinking, uh-oh....what's wrong with this guy?

So he says he's been up for two or three days and nights straight working on this "I Crawl Out" song. I asked if I could hear it and it was a KILLER song. Hey, I lived in Nashville for 15 years among lots of talented songwriters. Made me cry the first time around. He put his whole self into it, you know. It's a great song. Anyway, I heard Darrell Scott walk by and I don't know him that well, but I went after him, snagged him, and BEGGED him to come and hear Mark do this song - "just give us 3 minutes, Darrell!" I could tell that Darrell did NOT want to do this, but he was nice enough to come along (just to get me out of his face). But it was clear he was touched by the song as well and saw a lot of value in Mark's song. I sort of tried to give him an "easy out" now that he'd heard it - but instead he lingered asking Mark lots of questions. Pretty cool. If you read the credits on the CD you'll see that Darrell ended up playing dobro on it!

Next thing I know, Mark has taken his first trip to Nashville (pretty intimidating by anyone's standards, not knowing a soul there - and Mark being such a quiet character). And it wasn't long after that he'd made a second trip there....and created this CD which I highly recommend!

Anyway, I said all that to say this. I had absolutely nothing to do with this song - or, if I did, it was simply that I took note of what Mark said...threw it back at him - call me the messenger ..and the rest is his-story, if you know what I mean. Good on Mark. I should be so focused! I hope we'll hear a lot more from Mark Evans in the years to come. I love that "Pass On By" song, too. Gets you to thinkin'. Lots of thought and a pretty good share of darkness behind these songs. But it just goes to show you. Mark paid attention to what was there for him to hear and it turned into something good for him. No coinkydinks, remember.

The other UK packet was from my buddy Steve, a terrier man for one of the foxhunts I follow during those wonderful months I spend in the UK. I'd sold him some photos and while he was cleaning out his Land Rover he came across a cassette tape he reckoned I should have so I wouldn't be missing the sound of oh, 50 hounds speaking in the woods (a cry sure to raise the hackles on your a very good way). It was a tape of foxhunting songs. Really cool stuff. Talk about some care packages. I'd go to the post office more often if I thought I'd have stuff like that waiting for me there. I'm not sure the tape was a coinkydink, but I do think I should learn at least one of the songs in appreciation. Not sure I can understand that Cumbrian accent but I'll give it a shot! Or there's that song that EC and Orna Ball do - I think it's called "The Fox." It's a dandy, and my friend Enid over in Wales was raised up singing that song. Oops. Small world. No coinkydinks.

And then today. My sister's friend is up visiting and she's a really cool lady and when I came down from my 3rd floor aerie (eerie?) after sweating over my hot laptop since 6 am, she handed me these lovely collage cards she'd made for me - all photography stuff - and I was thinking what a cool gift. I really don't think I've been living right, so why is all this stuff coming to me? Anyway I have this rule that for everything I bring into my possession I need to give away at least as much, so be careful if you get a packet from me in the mail. It could contain art I made when I was 5 (faded construction paper, crayon scribbling and Elmer's glue), one of my tweed miniskirts from 10th grade (did I really climb the stairs in front of those boys in that???), pictures of Sajid Khan, lyrics to a Peter, Paul and Mary song, Minnesota Fats's autograph - or a whole bunch of other scary choices. I can't keep it all; I've done passed the half-century mark - time to lose some excess baggage. Too, I've been helping my sister and a couple of other people clutter clean their homes and I feel like a fraud and a hypocrite if I hang on to all of my own stuff! Seriously, though, I do want to lose a bunch of stuff, so if you see anything you need in the list above, do drop me a line! I have many other useless items to pawn as well.

Anyway, after a nice glass of orange juice and raspberry seltzer we all headed down to the Antiques and Crafts fair in a nearby village and it was surprising how much stuff and how many folks were there. Ain't summer great? We each found a small item or two we couldn't live without (an old hymnbook and a foxhunting print for me) but the weirdest thing was yet to come. As I was dickering over the price of this print (marked $3, I offered him $2) this guy and his wife were standing there and I was asking the vendor if he had any music books. He kind of laughed since I was stood next to a table full of them (but they were NEW - ack!) and the guy says, "I think I know you from somewhere...." and he looked vaguely familiar to me, but I travel so much everyone looks familiar to me. I asked where he was from...and then it dawned on us. Fifteen years ago my old boyfriend and I were caretakers for an elderly couple just about 3 miles down the road from where I am now. My old boyfriend had a drinking problem and we weren't getting along and it came time to move back to Nashville. So I was at a bluegrass festival maybe 3 or 4 hours from here talking to Laurie Lewis and a sound guy I used to know like 20 years ago - and anyway he introduced to me to his wife...long story short, it was this guy. And turned out he was living right up here by me. And they were looking for a place to live....and I told him about our situation - a beautiful 100 acres to watch, some wood to cut, a tractor and plough to use when it snowed, a riding lawnmower in the summer...but all expenses paid....a pretty good gig to live in paradise for nothing. It really wasn't much work. And they took it....and stayed seven and a half years. Anyway, we all ended up in the same place, one little booth out of 200 in a tiny town in the middle of the mountains...all there at the same moment...saying things that triggered memories though we couldn't put our fingers on what those memories were. A little conversation and it all fell into place. I sure felt good about that. They were bemoaning the loss of some of the local bluegrass festivals - one at Accord NY; one at Peaceful I got telling them about a couple of others that I really love and we're going to get together (they're about 12 miles down the road from me now) and talk bluegrass and maybe end up at the same festival (that would be Pickin' in the Pasture or Thomas Point Beach) sometime in the next month. Now ain't that cool.

Remember: small world. No coinkydinks. Good night.


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