The sun stopped by on his way through, rather apologetically. We asked him if he'd failed to notice the time--it's been over three weeks since he last visited. How long did he plan on sticking around this time, and should we even bother to take off our raincoats?
He didn't say much, just some excuse about the price of gas these days, and with that, he was gone.
I put off responding to Jim Oltersdorf regarding the Discovery Channel documentary. Things were busy and I was never home, and when I sat down in the evening, I just didn't ever remember to get around to it. At least those were the excuses I offered myself. The deeper truth may have been a little different.
I listened to a couple of guitar parts he'd sent me, and right away I knew that this assignment was perfect for me. I thought about the chord progression and instantly half a dozen ideas came to mind. After he sent me some preliminary work that other arrangers had created with it, I knew that I could do better. I knew I was just the right person for Alaskan grizzly bear documentary music. But, I was scared.
Have you ever stepped to the edge of the diving board, ready for the exciting rush that brought you up the ladder in the first place, but you just couldn't take that last bounce? That's what it felt like these past couple of weeks, every time I though about contacting Jim about the documentary music. Such potential, such possibility, and all that lay between me and my music was... me.
What if I freeze up? What if I can't get any of my ideas out? What if everything that I play sounds tentative and feeble? I just didn't think I could bear it if I botched my chance at something big because I was too chicken to show what I could do. The thought of failing made my knees wiggle and falter, right before that last bounce. It was easier to crawl back down the steps, passively letting the moment lapse. I thought about it.
After two weeks, I finally wrote back, apologizing for the delay and asking if he still needed me. He was prompt to sent up an appointment at my house and promised to bring his HD sound recording equipment to boot. But this was just a "get to know you" meeting. Nevertheless, I got the piano tuned for the occasion. I hoped he would ask me to play my violin too, so I tuned it up and set it out, just in case. I made sure to act confident and pretend I knew what I was doing when I answered the door today. I even picked up the dirty laundry and swept the floors before he arrived.
Everything else? Well it seemed to go quite smoothly. He really liked the sound of my piano. I gave him some different ideas over his guitar part, and he was very good at guiding me toward what he was looking for. I couldn't always find all the notes, but most of them worked. Lots of potential, I think.
Finally, he asked to hear me play my fiddle. I smiled--the way I imagine Mona Lisa might have felt--and tucked it under my chin. This was it.
We got through about eight bars when he stopped, teary eyed. Excitedly, he exclaimed, "That's it, oh, this is what I'm looking for!"
You never know about these things, how they turn out in the long run. I'm too afraid to think anything will come of this, but the prospects certainly looked good today.
After reaching the top of Skyline yesterday, Kim and I followed the ridge across the Mystery Hills traverse. Most days, things are pretty quiet up there, but to our surprise, we were approached by a couple of curious ewes and a kid on their way to Skilak lake.
The forget-me-nots are in full bloom now, and they decorate the slopes with electric blue.
I also got to mark off "white tailed ptarmigan" in my bird book.
I found this intriguing benchmark on top of No Name peak, one of the nine mini-summits on the ridge, but it has no elevation marking. We estimated it to be 2900 ft.
We descended the ridge into an overgrown thicket resembling Jurassic Park, wading through calf deep water on the flooded trail next to Fuller Lake. The birds flying over the lake in this photo are actually mosquitos.
It was a lovely day for a hike despite the bugs. Today, I opened up the June issue of TrailRunner to discover that they had written an article on the very trail we'd traveled. Did they post photos of the epic landscapes, the jungle thickets, the teeming wildlife and brilliant flowers? On the contrary, they only included one photo from that hike, nearly identical to this one that I took yesterday:
Wednesday, I went on a 13 mile trail run up to Crescent Lake and back. According to Trish, my running partner, we were picking up some speed when I tripped and took the force of the fall with my right cheek bone. I was unconscious for several minutes, and the first thing I can remember is walking down the trail with Trish next to me, explaining what had happened and asking me questions. I asked her where I was. I wondered how I'd gotten there. She told me it was George's birthday, and that's when I realised I couldn't remember very much at all. The confusion felt a lot like a bad dream, to say the least.
It's funny, though. My long term memory was in overdrive, reciting the symptoms of concussion and going through various self-checks. Slowly, I began gathering and organizing pieces of my mind, which had been scattered like loose leaf paper all over the trail. By the time we got back to the car, I could remember most of the day, including the fleece I bought for George's birthday, which was the wrong color.
Mostly, my summer life has been full of marathons and mountain races and loads of cooking. Nowadays when I reach for my violin in the evenings, it feels much like a bit of dessert rewarding my hard efforts of the day. In the winter, I practice for symphony and performances and upcoming recitals, but in the summer, I play for myself, and it is delicious.
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