Friends of Friends, Sleep and Grey Fox
It's fun meeting friends of friends. You get to talking and find out you have a whole lot in common, at least most of the time. Yesterday I had a gig photographing friends playing a gig up in trendy Williamstown, Massachusetts (trendy in a stiff-upper-lipped kind of way). If you've never been to the Berkshire Mountains in Massachusetts and you fancy pretty places all tidy-like and just oozing with loads of history you owe yourself a leisurely trip through the far eastern New York/far western Mass. area. Bring your camera. There's still a lot of old New England to be enjoyed there on the little two lane roads that criss-cross the counties where the Shakers had their heyday. Too bad they didn't believe in sex; kind of hard to keep family trees going without adding any branches, ya know?
Anyway I was talking about friends of friends. Through my friends Robert and Lillian and Dickie, I got to meet Herb Applin, a delightful guy who made quite a lot of New England bluegrass history over the last few decades. He's full of great stories about the old days kicking around Boston's Hillbilly Ranch of a night with the likes of the Lilly Brothers and Joe Val. Hoo-wee, sounds like those boys might have had a little more fun back then than we all had a few years back kicking around Nashville's Station Inn. There isn't a Hillbilly Ranch in Boston anymore, sadly, but the memories seem quite strong!
This morning I had the pleasure of meeting Bill Dillof, a fine old time fiddler who lives somewhere in the wilds of Massachusetts and heard him coaching my pal Robert on some fine old fiddle tunes. Along the way we discussed lots of mutual friends (though WE had never met before) and common threads in our life experiences (seems like most folks have a lot in common when you get right down to it). We got downright philosophical a few times and maybe even brilliant for one sparkling moment or two. I heard a hysterically funny (and also sad) story about a "captive husband" and laughed myself silly more than once while enjoying a perfect omelette and a sweet english muffin smeared with organic strawberry preserves from Crete - not to mention the company of a couple of good friends and a relative stranger. Can life get any better?
Herb, Robert and Bill were telling about some of the young pickers that can play so fast and how another friend described their playing: "sounds like a damn doodlebug race." If ya know what I mean. Amen!
I took a walk outside and felt for a moment like I was back in Wales....all was lush green and rich; it was quiet, and I expected a flock of sheep to come up over the rise. Everywhere I turned flowerbeds bursting with saturated color lifted strong tendrils toward the clouds. The air was alive with contented serenity.
Last night I slept in a bed that seemed made to order - very firm, and the sheets smelled of rosemary (though I was told it was Tide)(Note: I bought Tide today; life's too short to have sheets that smell of some other brand). The room was large and airy and several bookcases were loaded with intriguing books. I like to sleep in the presence of great writing. An oscillating fan lent a sense of happy isolation.
Anyway, about that bed. Isn't it amazing how many folks spend their lives in poor, nay, crappy beds, you know, sunken down in the middle, so it takes a superhuman effort to claw your way out? It's 1/3 of your life (well okay, 25%)! Sleep is meant to be pleasurable, no? Be kind to your back and your spirit. I love a firm bed, sweet-smelling sheets, a smallish pillow and a nice duvet. Make sure yours suits you. Funny, my bed is very often in the back of my truck and it suits me just fine, thank you. After a good night's sleep most of life seems to go a lot easier.
I was reluctant to leave such a happy house with its resonant instruments, lovely garden and good friends, old and new, but I had to get on down the road to feed my sister's cat, so I said my fond farewells and headed down the small and smaller and smallest yet roads of the Massachusetts-New York border. It occurred to me that I might just stop by Grey Fox (still called Winterhawk by some of us old-timers) and see what was going on up there. I didn't go all the way up on the hill, but there seemed to be many happy campers there on the Rothvoss Farm, so I shall return tomorrow after Mr. Pip gets an ample supply of fresh water and cat food to keep him happy.
And tomorrow night I'll sleep once again in that little old truck of mine.