In the barn--that's a lot of kids! About 700-800 in this group, I think.
Ilene Evans, Marc Harshman, me and Adam Booth--storytellers all.
Some of the schools that came are ones I have visited in the past to tell stories, so they are like old friends. Sutton Elementary, for example--I performed for them for several years in a row until they couldn't get funding any more for their event. The principal is one of those rarities, a leader who understands the value of the arts in education. A musician himself, he works hard to make sure his students get to experience all kinds of art during the school year. He's one of my heroes. He gets it, when so many do not. Life is informed and enriched by art.
I had an adventure on the way to the festival. I stopped at an ATM to get some cash and my brake pedal went POP and suddenly went to the floor under my foot. I was pretty sure this wasn't a good thing. I eased out carefully, testing the brakes and waiting to see if any warning light came on. None did, and while the pedal went to the floor each time I pressed it, I was able to stop.
I decided that I better test it a little more before getting back on the interstate. I was about 100 miles from home and 40 from the festival at this point and I did not want any nasty surprises. So I drove to a drive-through restaurant, got dinner and as I pulled out, the warning light, bells, and all came on. LOW BRAKE FLUID the light said. I pulled into a gas station and looked under my car. A telltale trail of fluid leaked from the back passenger side wheel. Uh-oh. This wasn't good.
By now it was getting dark. I tried to call Larry but he wasn't home. Tried my son Aaron, no answer--Aaron was closest to me, about an hour away. Finally I tried Derek and just as I was explaining the problem to him, Aaron called me back. He said he would come right away. What a son. This was the evening before his birthday, and he had to be at work at 6 am.
While I waited for Aaron, I decided to make use of the time and walked over to a bulk food stores to get some things for my two days at the festival. I found a bottle of Lambert Winery's Blackberry Merlot, which I know Aaron and his wife like, so I bought it as a thank you gift. Then I walked to a produce stand to get a few apples. I had a nice talk with the lady who was working there. She is a cook at the high school, she said, and works part-time at the produce stand. She was canning tomatoes as she worked! She said she figured she might as well make use of her time when there were no customers and can the tomatoes that were beginning to go bad. What a woman. I do believe she was a little older than me, but she was full of energy.
Aaron arrived and figured out the problem quickly--somehow my emergency brake cable had got pushed over and rubbed a hole in the rubber brake line that ran to the wheel. I'd tried calling a few garages before Aaron arrived but of course no one was open that time of night. I asked Aaron, "Can't we just tape it up with duct tape and put more fluid in it?"
"No," he said, "first time you put your foot on the brake it would start leaking again." He thought a minute. Then he said, "But ya know, if I crimp off the line with a pair of vice grips, then tape it good with duct tape and tape the vice grip to the frame of the car...that would work!"
And that's what he did. 45 minutes later I was on the road with Aaron following me to be sure I didn't have any problems. The brakes worked perfectly.
I got to the festival, Aaron was home by 10pm and all was well. Today I drove v-e-r-y slowly home, using the brakes gently, no small feat when traveling halfway across the Mountain State. But here I am home, the brakes are fine and Larry will repair them in the morning.
This story was the perfect lead-in to my set with the kids because I planned to tell a Jack tale (along with a few songs, of course). Jack is a mountain trickster (remember Jack and the Beanstalk? Same Jack, many stories) who gets into trouble but always finds a way out by using his brains and coming up with novel solutions.
I am pretty sure my son Aaron is a modern-day Jack. What a guy.
And by the way, Happy Birthday, Aaron!