No one knows what the body can do. -Spinoza
Saturday, August 29, 2009
We're back in the American Southwest, and honestly, I've been too tired to post about the fabulous places we saw in traveling along the Olympic Peninsula in Washington, and the Oregon coast plus inland to Portland, or to finish up the final posts of excellent places to see in Montreal. Not to mention that after so much traveling I'm more focused on sinking back into life here on the Colorado Plateau.
Last night a friend of mine that is a Freemason invited me and the nine-year old to a private dinner set to welcome other Freemasons from the order in San Bernadino, California. Having yesterday made the commitment (all over again) to appreciate what is uniquely local, I accepted. We drove out to a neighborhood in the western side of town and walked into a hearty group of men, and their women plus children guests, enjoying live bluegrass music in the current Grand Master's backyard. Immediately I was offered a mixed drink of my choice (they had all the necessary ingredients there), and handed a plate of prime rib, potatoes, salad with fresh tomatoes. The music was offered by a local traditional music master, Tony, that had been invited to play for them by the friend that brought me along. By the end of the evening he'd played many of the classics I grew up hearing over breakfast from my mom--Tennesse Waltz, being the one that stands out most clearly in my memory. My mom would wake me up. I'd sit at the breakfast table in the dark of Alaskan winter, and while she made me breakfast and lunch the stereo would be playing in the corner with old country standards crooning through the low lit kitchen.
After playing for a couple of hours on his own, Tony invited an older man, Charles, with a Lincolnesque beard to join in on accordian. It turns out Charles is a well-established Lincoln impersonator that makes his living reenacting Lincoln's speeches, or simply attending events dressed as Lincoln. He also plays a little accordian, housed in a gorgeous antique alligator-embossed suitcase, on the side. The two of them worked through songs while Charles called out "A!" "B-flat" for cord changes. Enjoying their songs, a woman that works at my university and used to be a member of the Eastern Star danced and sang along. Eventually Tony called me in to sing a more recent classic--John Prine's "Angel From Montgomery", the favorite song of so many friends of mine.
One of the interesting things about these masons is how varied their forms of employment are. My friend is the local chocolate maker, there were several policemen, some carpenters, a facilities manager from the university. This afternoon two new members are going through a six-hour long ceremony to become Master Masons, the result of extensive study on Masonic ethical principles. This evening they're having a celebratory dinner out on the prarie that we're also invited to. After last night we've received an open invitation to attend weekly dinners at the Temple, as well.
After dinner our friend and the two of us (the nine-year old and I) decided we wanted to listen to more music, so we drove out to Hart's prarie switching cd's on the stereo as we drove to play the best songs we had available in the car. We stopped outside of town on the edge of the mountain and turned the car off looking out into the dark across the prarie. The grasses glow a dark golden under the half moon, the volcanic forms and mesas cut a silhouette against the deep blue sky. The stars are rich and brilliant here, as we sit so far out from city light haze. It's a lovely place. After sitting for half an hour counting out constellations and breathing in the prarie, we headed back to town and stopped off at the local playground. We swang as hard as we could causing the swings to jump with each turn. Then we picked up a game of tag and I ran so hard in my blue Lanvin dress, and Chie Mihara sandals I honestly broke one toe-thong and made my self sick. The nine-year old fell and skinned her knee, then jumped up screaming and ran harder--no excuses with getting hurt we'd decided.