Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A-Caroling We Went

The past week flew by, filled with baking, booth work and getting ready for our weekend trip. Now I am home again and settling back into something like normal. Like most of you, I still have some shopping to do, packages to mail and so on to be ready for Christmas.

But the weekend was glorious! We left Friday morning to begin the round of three presentations of our program, Here We Come A-Caroling! Songs and Stories of the Season.  The weather predictions for the weekend in the region around Washington, DC didn't sound promising, but that's where our bookings were and no snow was going to stop us. Jeff met us in Ripley; we loaded his gear into our van and we were off.

Our first presentation was in beautiful Berkeley Springs, WV, in a historic Presbyterian church. Stained glass windows, white walls and rich wood surroundings, accented with the red of poinsettias and lights on a tree, provided the perfect backdrop. We even had an opening act: four young men who play old-time music came to perform a medley of carols and fiddle tunes.

They were led by fiddler Robbie Mann, who is a bluegrass music major at Glenville State University and son of the lady who coordinated the event. I loved the rendition of Grumbling Old Man and Growling Old Woman the guys played! If you're curious, you can hear Robbie playing the tune on YouTube four years ago. He was great then, even better now.

We spent that evening at the home of the library director, whose art-filled rooms were a delight to see. Conversation flowed well into the night; we slept soundly and woke to 2 inches of new snow (on top of the remains of the previous week's snow). I was worried about my van; we've not driven it in bad weather yet and we were on a road with a very steep hill. It's all-wheel-drive, but still I worried. So after excellent coffee and banana bread we said our goodbyes and ventured forth.

I needn't have worried; the van did great, never slipped, slid, or spun. But our day was a bit of a puzzle; we had been scheduled for our next event that evening in Frederick, Maryland but our host decided to reschedule for Sunday evening. It was a wise call as the snow continued to fall heavily and rain and ice were predicted to follow it. The day soon fell into place: we went to Jeff's daughters' home and he put a tune-up kit in the car of his oldest girl, then we went to lunch at a delightful English pub in Shepherdstown. Fish and chips and a pot of Earl Grey tea! What a fine meal.

Next stop was Leesburg, VA. My granddaughter Cassidy Ford, who is a songwriter in Nashville now, was in Leesburg for the annual Jingle Jam, a fundraiser for Juvenile Diabetes. We met my daughter-in-law just in time for the show at the newly refurbished Tally Ho theater in old-town Leesburg. It was one of the best concerts I've ever attended, and I was so happy to get to hear Cassidy sing again. Her songs continue to be played on various TV shows but seeing her in person was really great.

Jeff had managed to contact on old school friend who lived in Leesburg; his friend came to the show and afterwards he and Jeff caught up over tea at his friend's home while Larry and I went to visit Jon's grave in Union Cemetery.

It is never easy, and yet so necessary; tears and sadness inevitably surround these visits, but I wish I could do them more often even so. He would have been so proud of his girl that day.

I had no flowers or wreath to leave; I had not expected to be in Leesburg so I wasn't prepared. Just stopping for a few minutes is enough to reconnect once again with this beloved son.

Our final stop of the day was at my sister Theresa's house. There is nothing that restores the spirit or soothes the heart like an excited welcome from four little great nieces and nephews! They were all at the door to greet us, and we had a fine evening of singing, stories and talking. After the little ones were in bed, I joined my sister and her daughter-in-law in the kitchen to help make goodies for the following day, when Jeff and I would be presenting our second concert of our trip.

I love house concerts! The homey surroundings, casual setting and ability to talk with the guests while enjoying good food, and being able to share our songs and stories in that intimate setting is truly a joy. Theresa and her daughter-in-law Susan fed us a veritable feast for breakfast and we all pitched in to set up the family room for storytelling and singing. We had a good crowd and a wonderful time, then packed up and headed off for our last stop: the rescheduled show in Frederick, MD.

This performance was also a house concert, at the home of storyteller Susan Gordon, in the gently rolling hills just outside Frederick. We arrived with just enough time to set up, drink a bit of hot mulled cider before beginning our show. Again, warm, art-filled space, two loving dogs, good food, and a great audience combined to make the best possible environment for performing. Afterwards we enjoyed conversation with Susan and her guests. Storyteller Adam Booth had made the trip to hear us, as had Jeff's two daughters. It was a perfect evening, with snow on the ground, an almost-full moon gliding in and out of the clouds, and a warm wood stove and much laughter inside.

Monday morning saw us on our way home after another great breakfast, prepared by Susan--bacon, eggs, cranberry bread, excellent coffee, thin-thin anise-laced pizzelles...yum. We did of course make a few stops at junk shops on the way home (photos in the next blog!) and to visit my nephew Eamon. Then lunch at beautiful Casselman Inn Restaurant in Grantsville, MD, and finally, finally home.

Good times, good memories, good people, good audiences, and good food. What more could a storyteller ask?

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.


Jeff said...

Your description of the trip is perfect, as was the trip itself. Thanks for draggin' me along!

Sue said...

I love caroling and concerts and all of it.

We had some kids from the neighborhood come caroling last night. Such fun!


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