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November 2000 Musings:

Grey Skies of November

When I was in college, a print of a Utrillo painting hung on my dormroom wall. The painting was of a street in Montmartre, a uniformly grey sky over charming Parisian houses. What sticks in my mind most is the color of the sky. That grey sky to me symbolizes November, and whenever the year turns round to this month I think of that painting and the subtle beauty of that sky.

This has been a typical November, the ubiquitous grey sky comfortingly constant. The woodpile—no sooner does it get stacked than it begins to get noticeably smaller. I heard a saying the other day that if your wood is half gone at New Year's Day not to worry, that's about where it should be to last the rest of the winter. It seems illogical, with January and February—and March—to go, even with the explanation of longer daylight hours coming soon. I'm already anticipating that shift falling into place, though, and ready for some sunny December days—even if they are shorter than these grey November ones.

My new banjo has been keeping me good company. It flew with me—without incident—to Seattle for my Pacific Northwest tour. What a fun tour that was. The concerts were great, wonderful audiences, and I had a delightful time in a Hood River, Oregon school. I love it when a school understands the importance of small groups, of getting the kids right up close to me where they can hear and see the instruments, and interact with Ursa. And I really love those administrators and teachers who are willing to disrupt their day to fit in several performances to implement that theory. Yay! It makes for a really fun time with the kids. At this particular school, they let Ursa and me go into the afternoon kindergarten classroom to sing, instead of putting them in with the 3rd and 4th graders. What a difference the ability to direct a performance to a specific age group makes in what the students take from their experience. Ah, and what I take from it also—I came out of school that day grinning and inspired.

Routing on my tour allowed for a day hiking with a good friend in the mountains east of Seattle. We hiked the steep trail up Denny's Creek to a beautiful pristine lake nestled among the mountains. We made the last part of our descent in the dusk, reaching the trailhead just after dark landed in earnest. I'm such a northeasterner—always awed by the shale meadows, waterfalls, steep dropoffs. The fall colors were beautiful in their muted golds and burgundies on the early November day we made the climb.

Back east later this month, I had a couple of fun concerts with Dana Robinson, savoring these last duo concerts before his move to North Carolina to be near his son. It's been a real privilege collaborating with this gifted musician and dear friend for the past few years. We may need to be more creative to find time to get together to play now that we'll be living several hundred miles apart, but I expect we'll manage to figure it out. In fact, my tour next week with Bob Franke takes me to Raleigh, and I'm expecting Dana to show up and sit in on some of my songs that night. And First Night Raleigh is flying me down to North Carolina to back Dana up at their celebration, which will be fun. And... next summer we're planning several weeks of duo concerts in the northeast. I've heard of bands with members all over the map and wondered how they do it—guess this is my chance to find out, eh?

Thanks for keeping up with my Musings page—do stop by to sign the guestbook [sorry...no longer available]. And check out my new extended schedule on the concerts page!

Warmly, Lui