The Florida Folk Festival: future perfect.

May 22, 2014 § 9 Comments

Turned out, four times was the charm.

Craig and I (Hot Tamale) finally made it into the Florida Folk Festival. Through three years of rejection we imagined what it would be like–imagined and hankered.

Tomorrow it will become real. But until we roll into Stephen Foster State Park, our guitars in the back, the Florida Folk Festival will be…


three hazy humid days of old guys in plaid shirts picking with calloused fingers.

Young up-and-comers playing impossibly hot licks.

Banjos ringing, dulcimers thrumming.

The clack of spoons and bones.

Voices will breathe life into songs that traveled in steerage across the Atlantic, or wandered south from Appalachia along unpaved roads, and songs that were born in slave cabins accompanied on a washboard that still served its original purpose.

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Obey gravity. It’s the law.

May 18, 2014 § 6 Comments

Defying gravity with Marc Chagall.As kids we thought that with a little magic, like  pinning a super-cape (a.k.a. a towel) around our shoulders, the law of gravity became negotiable.

My sister Claudia, pumping hard, launched her tricycle off our high brick stoop.

At seven, my future husband nailed two boards together, straddled his airplane and took flight from the barn loft.

In both cases, gravity applied.

Humans are magical thinkers.

We choose what is real, as if in order for something to exist, we have to believe in it. As if, without our belief a law becomes a suggestion, something without force or consequence.

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The celery farm.

May 8, 2014 § 8 Comments

The Sandberg Home.My dad grew up in Congers, NY, the adopted home of many immigrant Swedes.

Until he died, this small town existed, unchanged, in the golden light of memory.

The clatter of the West Shore Railroad, which originated in Weehawken, NJ, then followed the Hudson before turning west toward Buffalo, was the music of his childhood–the track ran behind the house his grandfather had built. « Read the rest of this entry »

The greatest generation, and mine.

May 4, 2014 § 13 Comments

Troop train bringing GIs home.In my mother’s mind there was a roll call of high school friends who never grew up much beyond their yearbook photos.

Forever “our boys,” they were lost in the European theater, shot down over the Pacific, carried off the field of battle.

For many the reward for going “over there” was a flag planted in the grass.

But those who came back—boys who enlisted in a fervor of patriotism and survived—came back as men. Men eager to make up for lost time.

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