Clark Hollow Ramblings: Picking and grinning

You have probably heard the old saying that some days you get the bear and some days the bear gets you. Put another way, some days you are the windshield, and some days you are the bug.

I thought of that week before last when I was down at the Graves Mountain bluegrass festival in Criglersville. On Friday the bass player and I had a good musical jam in the morning with an old banjo friend from the Tappahannock area. That afternoon we picked under a little pop-up canopy with some local guys while we had three different downpours.

Later that day we were joined at our camping area by a couple of people who were passing by and heard us picking and asked if they could join us. We said sure, and they turned out to be some folks who were as good as anybody you ever heard.

One fellow had toured with Jimmy Fortune and his fiddle playing was so good it gave you goose bumps. Then somebody handed him a guitar and after he played a few tunes, I went inside the camper and got a hammer and beat my guitar into little pieces. Well, not exactly, but that’s what I felt like doing.

That was some of the best music I had been involved with for a long, long time. The newbies in the crowd left and went to bed about midnight. Us old souls and veterans stayed and picked until 2 a.m. The music was so good I wanted to wrap it up and take it home with me.

Not being used to that much guitar playing, the next day my left hand felt like I was going to bleed to death through the ends of my fingers. But, I believe it might have been worth it. Note for next time: When you can feel your heart beating in the tips of your fingers, you probably ought to take a break.

All the above took place on Friday. I got the bear; killed that sucker dead. On Saturday, with the threat of more weather and the lingering effects of the previous evening, I think the bear got me.

For many years I made the pilgrimage to Galax, Virginia, for the old time fiddlers’ convention. I was a lot younger and the all night sessions didn’t bother me so much. I regret to report that while my stamina during the jam sessions is still quite acceptable, the recovery time has lengthened considerably. Looking back on it now with the perspective of time, I don’t regret it at all. It was good, clean, honest fun, and I made some good friends and heard some good music.

I am a little bit ashamed to report that when I got home from the Graves festival I didn’t get back in time or in shape to go to church on Sunday. I will try to do better if I go again. After a hot shower and a little rest, I went out to check on the garden. The difference three days had made during the peak growing season was amazing. I hadn’t grown any broccoli in years and I had decided to try it again. The size of the heads was a nice surprise. I cut one and soaked it in some salt water, but found no little critters of any kind.

I took a large part of the broccoli stalk, as well. Sunday evening my bride had laid out a nice looking piece of venison back strap, and I cooked some stir fry. I took the broccoli stalk, cut off the outside edge, and cut the remainder into bite size slivers. I threw in a handful of early peas, pods and all, added some onion, garlic, carrots and water chestnuts.

We put that over some rice, and I am happy to report that while I had a great time at Graves, it surely was good to be back home, and tasty, too.

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