Thursday, August 20, 2009

Two Summer Postings

A boat ride and my whining about summer nearing its end....scroll down. Thanks for reading.

A Gift of Relaxation

Hubby and I were treated to time on Oneida Lake yesterday. A business associate of his invited us for a boat ride. We arranged for Grandma to take the dog and headed off. It was a gorgeous day and we were extremely happy to get away from our usual routines.

We refer to our hostess as hubby’s business associate, but she has truly become a friend. We were lunching with her the day the boat (a gift purchased as a gift for her partner) was being readied for delivery. The three of us went to “visit” it on its trailer, crawling around beneath its cover and checking out this marvelous surprise birthday gift. We’d never been able to arrange a time to actually ride on the water….until yesterday.

And what a delightful ride it was! Just the four of us, sunny blue skies, fairly calm waters and nothing more important to do than keep the snacks from tipping over. We’ve done enough together to have developed an easy comfort with each other. We caught up with what’s going on in our lives, traded a few blonde jokes, did some “house hunting” along Fish Creek, watched the sailboats, were mesmerized by a dazzling sunset and thoroughly enjoyed simply hanging out together.

A few hours on the water with such wonderful folks made us feel as if we’d been away for a week or more. We hadn’t realized how much we’d needed that respite. How do we even begin to say thanks for such a special gift? It could never be repaid.

August, My Cruelest Month

Was it T.S. Eliot who believed April to be the cruelest month? I think not. How can all those daffodils in bloom and promises of summer days to come be considered cruel?

For me, it’s definitely August. At the campground it seems as if all the other campers suddenly realize that the summer clock is ticking down and there are people everywhere. I’ve gotten used to having the place to myself when Rupert and I set out for our long walks through the woods and campground roads in the morning… we have to watch out for dogs not on a leash or little kids who think every dog in their path welcomes outstretched hands or idiots who toss firecrackers near campfires and think it’s funny to watch dogs walking by jump.

The sun sets earlier, a reminder to me that long winter days are lingering on the horizon, certainly not my favorite time of year. Leaves are already falling to the ground in the woods; the tops of some trees are beginning to turn color. Some days the smell of autumn is in the clouds.

I’m not done with summer yet. I’m not ready. But August is here, reminding me that my attitude must be adjusted. My friend Denise once wrote that she is “solar powered”. I believe I am, too. And I’ve not yet had enough of the sun to get me though the winter. I hope that August at least remains hot and humid and sunny. I’m probably one of the few folks NOT complaining about the heat (although it’s tough on the Rupert and that worries me)….because I know, now that August is here, winter is waiting in the wings. Cruelty.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Summertime and the living is easy....

Scroll down for several recent postings about Donna Colton, DeRuyter Firemen Field Days, The Serious Dudes at the Red and White Cafe and the foxes at the camper.

Fun at the Firemen's Field Days

Americana at its best….or worse….depending on which way you’re looking. That’s the only way I can describe the DeRuyter Firemen Field Days. I always love going. This year we attended the pony pull, the competition where the firemen point their hoses at a ball and try to be the first team to get it by a certain point, the antique tractor pull, and, of course, the parade.

We watched a couple of country western bands play, too. I don’t know much about country music to really appreciate the bands. The Saturday night band, called Knight Ryders, seemed pretty smooth and got a lot of folks up and dancing. I admit to not knowing a lot of the numbers they played even though most of the dancers were singing along. The dance floor is directly in front of this area that is surrounded by chicken wire….known as the beer tent….which was standing room only. The band played louder than the roar from the beer tent, thankfully.

Kick-N-A played on Friday night. We know the drummer in this cover band, and it was a joy to watch him play. They did covers of rock and country songs….we knew some of these songs. The two-steppers enjoyed their playing, also. We actually went to the camper to get warmer clothes and came back to listen to them do another set; we were enjoying them that much. The show on the dance floor was beyond words.

Who needs Disneyland when you can go to a firemen’s field days? Cheaper. no long lines and much more fun. We’re already looking forward to next year.

The Serious Dudes Play at the Red and White Cafe

To begin with, they aren’t a bit serious by nature. They are serious musicians however. Talented musicians, too. We know one of them, Marc Ryan, in a round-about way. I’ve actually known him since he was an infant as I took over the job his mother left to give birth to him. Marc later became an acquaintance of my son’s and was hired by my son to play drums in the band that played for hubby’s 59 ½ birthday party last summer. Marc does it all: plays guitar, plays drums, writes music, manages. He also plays in a variety of cover bands. I swear, he can do it all.

Hubby and I are drawn to off the wall spots and the Red and White Café in DeRuyter is one of these. It used to be a Big M grocery store near our camper….where you could find whiskey sour mix stuck up on shelves in almost every aisle, something that used to puzzle and delight us at the same time. It has been lovingly renovated into the most delightful café. We’ve made friends with the owner, enjoy eating there at least once on weekends, and are thrilled that Christine has added live music on weekend nights. When we saw that Marc was playing, it was even more exciting!

The Serious Dudes played covers of Dylan and Allman Brothers and others…..and very well. They opened with “She Belongs to Me”, not your typical Dylan song, and I loved their version of it. It’s one of my favorites. And then they sang an old John Sebastian song I hadn’t heard in ages and ages, “Darling Be Home Soon”. It was wonderful to hear this again…..I couldn’t help but wonder why Marc loves this song and my own son hates it (he’s a very talented musician, preferring heavy metal) as I listened to Marc singing.

We loved listening to Marc, Sonny and Captain Andy …..these dudes who had fun playing to folks who should have listened more, because they missed three talented musicians playing extremely well.

Update on the Foxes

I find it odd that this summer we have foxes living in an abandoned camper near us….the summer I’ve been reading Lillian Hellman’s plays, including The Little Foxes, memoirs and autobiographies.
They are not so little now….and they seem to have dwindled from six to four. When it rains they huddle somewhere. But when the sun returns, they wander all around the campground, playing and romping around in the sunshine. They have no fear of campers, dogs, cars, etc. I sometimes worry about this.

We call 9:15 PM “the fox hour” now. At our guest camper we have a spotlight that comes on at dark and shines on a flagpole. Moths and other bugs are drawn to this light. I’d noticed that the iris and ferns planted near this light had been getting trampled and one night we discovered that the foxes like to sit beneath this lamp, jump up and catch the insects. Seems our light is their Nice ‘n’ Easy stop for snacks on their evening hunt. We can almost set our watches by them. Hubby and I sneak out on our deck and watch them, whispering…..but they know we are there, and they don’t care. They munch on the bugs awhile and then head down the hill for tastier fare.
Rupert longs to go play with them. Some afternoons, when he has barked and run from one end of the camper to the other begging for release, I wonder if I’m being mean by not releasing him and letting him run with them for a day or two. Naw…..

Donna Colton Plays at Onatavia Church

One of the best kept secrets in local music has to be the First Friday concerts at Onatavia Church in LaFayette. We were lucky enough to catch Donna Colton there in July. As Donna herself put it, it’s a “listening audience”. This alcohol-free environment lends itself to truly hearing the music. Donna, Sam and drummer Julius were brilliant. We felt as though we were hanging out in someone’s living room, just chatting and jamming. It was delightful.

I tend to get nervous when singers cover Joni Mitchell, especially songs from her Blue album, my absolute favorite. Usually I find that other singers try too hard to imitate and fail miserably. The talented Ms. Colton knows better and made “Carey” her very own, wrapping the lyrics and melody around her voice until you convinced yourself that Joni Mitchell had never sung a note of it. I was mesmerized and enraptured. I’ve played the Tryst CD so often at the camper, I’m fearful I’ll need to buy a second one as I’m wearing this one down.

If you have the chance to see Donna Colton and the Troublemakers, you’ll never be disappointed. And, please, I urge you to make the trip to this tiny little white church off the beaten path on a first Friday of the month to hear some music. Mark Zane will play there next March, Dana “Short Order” Cooke in November. The intimacy is lovely. They serve homemade desserts and pass the collection plates (that’s how the musicians get paid) and you can sit back and enjoy some of Central New York’s best musicians