A Summer Free

It’s here. Summer vacation. In years past I’d approached summer with a certain apprehension, as I assume many parents do – those who have jobs which continue after school comes to an end must dread this change in schedule – but this year it is a refreshingly different situation for me. While folks with unrelenting day jobs may be faced with some daunting child-care related logistic challenges in the summertime, that had never been my particular problem. In the past my difficulty was that by this time of the year I was knee-deep in producing a summer music festival – and doing it all myself – with a young kid at my feet whining to me that he was bored. In ‘my’ day my mother had no room for my boredom. I was given a bicycle and complete freedom. That was my summer. At the time I really hated it, but looking back now it seems rather idyllic. Classic, timeless summer. (But I suppose I might have been a year or two older than Elihu is now at that point.) What we did or how we passed our summers as tiny children, while my own parents were themselves tending to the same Baroque Festival that I have been running since I moved back, of that I have little recollection. The past three years have been great feats for me; keep the show going while keeping the small kid happy. A juggling act I didn’t have to repeat this year, because last year we wrapped up dad’s 52 year run of the Festival of Baroque Music. Lots less stress this year for sure.

It just hit me the other day as I stood in the Studio, conjuring the memory of harpsichord and viola da gamba ringing out so vibrantly in the hall, that we wouldn’t hear such music in this room again this summer. The Festival, as we all know it, has concluded. The thought hits me in my gut, and I am more than sad. I feel decades of memories become fainter and fall farther away into the shared oblivion of past performances everywhere. Many who were here to witness those performances are themselves no longer with us. Fainter and dimmer the memories become. I remind myself that the spirit in which all of that was created will continue on. It will take different forms too. But I promise myself something important: I will find a way to make Baroque music a regular part of the Studio’s offerings one day. But just not this year. Taking a year off isn’t so bad I tell myself, but still, it makes me sad, nostalgic. This is the first year here without music. I think of how far my dad has slipped since just last year. He might not even be able to attend a concert by next year. I know it, but I just can’t fully embrace it yet. I take in a breath of air, and I let a concept linger until it doesn’t hurt quite so much: I realize that we have come, quite definitively, to the end of my father’s era. It sits heavy in my gut. Yet I know that also means it’s now the beginning of mine. I’m still feeling the sorrow in my stomach, but I can’t deny that I’m also beginning to get excited here… Once again, I’m beginning to see the Studio’s new future and I can just feel possibility growing…

For now I am not personally hosting any classes or performances, but Ceres, my partner is. I chose not to take part in this season because I was feeling a bit overwhelmed. I had lots on my plate what with the new well and other infrastructure details – plus there’s been so much going on with us personally the past few months – a change of schools, family issues and such; I just couldn’t summon the extra oomph to do it all.

I’m letting my role in the Studio rest for a bit as I turn my attention instead to simply spending the summer with a nine year old boy. And I gotta say – it feels great to get up in the morning with the day wide open before us. While there are things we’d really like to do this year (like visit far-away family), we hope to keep things as under-scheduled and free-form as possible. Today we had a destination in mind, but knew little of what to expect once we got there. With the agreement that we might be disappointed – but that we’d go anyway – today we were happily surprised as we discovered some impressive waterfalls, visited an old-fashioned mill, got our feet wet in a lake and tried some homemade, spicy sauerkraut. Elihu ran after moths on a vast, shady lawn while I sat in an Adirondack chair under some tall maple trees and looked out at the Hudson making its way past huge outcroppings of rock. As we meandered through the small town Elihu found himself a couple of matchbox-sized airplanes. Then we came home and learned a bit more about the place we’d just been. Perfect.

Finally it’s summer. And finally… we’re free.

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