Tuesday, June 16, 2009


I'm back home, once again immersed in the constant commotion of my Sparkle City life. The two weeks since that lazy afternoon on the Meramac River might as well have been two years. That Sunday evening, my fellow counselor Bleke arrived from Missouri, then all sorts of staff began trickling in. As the week progressed, evenings at Mound Ridge evolved from scavenged dinners, scary movies and late-night stargazing to full-blown camp cooking, staff training videos and "Teambuilding." As regards the camp music program, I had to quickly adapt the fruit of two weeks of thoughtful, solitary perfectionism to the abilities and interests of real, non-musician folks who would have to carry on in my absence.

I think my favorite evening of that last, somewhat frenetic week was the night we began making music in earnest. The three senior counselors, plus a gaggle of 14 and 15 year old counselors-in-training, gathered around the campfire, each with a drum or a tambourine or some other delightful noisemaker. A vital precursor to the actual noisemaking, necessary for bolstering energy and lowering inhibitions, was of course, the obligatory round of s'mores. I began with some of the simpler tunes, easy enough to echo around a mouthful of marshmallow. Once the roasting sticks were all retired and we had a good few songs under our belt, we picked up our instruments and sang my favorite arrangement of the Lord's Prayer - learned from the Psalters. It's a catching Middle Eastern melody with a driving rhythm, each repetition whirling faster into the next until it spins into an ecstatic chorus of "Amens" and wild drumming. My "test campers" loved it. A few of the CIT's even started to dance.

This being the natural climax of our evening, we thereafter began packing up and heading to the cabins. I was inside the dining hall when I heard a man's irritated voice, asking the CITs for the person in charge. He came inside and asked me where there was an adult he could speak with. I told him that would be me, unless he cared to go up to the top of the hill to speak with Christy and Don. He proceeded to explain that having paid to camp at Mound Ridge to escape the intense stresses of his life, he did not take kindly to people beating "50 gallon barrels" when he was trying to enjoy a peaceful evening. I was aware that he and his wife had been camping down in the field (a good quarter mile walk from our fire circle) but I had no idea they were still there, or that a person in that field would be able to hear me playing the djembe way up here. He threatened to pack up and leave, and I apologized profusely and said it wouldn't happen again. He left in as big a huff as he had entered.

When I told Don the story, he laughed. "He thinks that was loud? What's he going to do with the 50 people who will be in the lodge right above him tomorrow night?" Don informed me that quiet hours didn't start until 11:00 anyway, and that the man had been informed of this. The incident had occurred at 10:30. I felt a little better after talking with him, but we didn't have another drum circle after that. The guy and his wife apparently did leave. None of us were terribly sad to see them go. Least of all the CITs, who'd gotten a bit of a fright.

It's storming out here and Dad says I should turn off the computer and go in. So I guess you won't get to hear about life back in Spartanburg. Ah well, it's pretty much the same old. My gig with the Windjammers (a 20's/New Orleans style jazz band) is this Sunday at 7:00 at USC Upstate, if you're curious. That's after Friday and Saturday trying to get my $50 worth of the Music Camp, without enjoying it too much. I have an 11am rehearsal.

Also, you really ought to look into Renaissance Street Navigation. It's a team scavenger hunt-type challenge thing that will be going on the 4th of July. I have to miss it but you bet I'd be there if I could. There's a $400 reward plus you get to go adventuring all around Spartanburg and learn about its history.

I swear, my camera must've sprouted feet. I keep seeing it in odd places and then it vanishes when I try to find it to upload pix. I'll try to get to it before I launch on my road trip Thursday. If not, you'll be hearing from me in Missouri next.

Farewell 'til then!

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