One Spring Day: Joe, a Fashion Show, and a Bulldozer

This week has been warm. The patches of grass have conquered most of the snow’s territory. I’ve even been outside, digging up those nasty thorny thistles and cutting back last year’s overgrowth in the roadside ditch.

Wednesday it was so nice I took my dulcimer downtown to the Commons. Ithaca has created a pedestrian shopping / hang out area by replacing one street with a broad sidewalk, dotted with seating areas, covered pavilions, and playgrounds. It was lovely to play outside again. The challenge is getting used to playing for hours at a time again, something I haven’t done since late last summer. (Funny, too, how suddenly life changes. January until now, I’ve been mostly occupied with how to use all the time on my hands. Now all the sudden I feel like I have to make time to do all the things I want to do.)

Anyway, three interesting things happened while I was busking on Wednesday.

This fellow with a baby was standing around at a distance, listening, then came and talked to me during a break. Said he just moved here, built a dulcimer once, and also does some music, and we talked a bit about the music scene here. Turns out to be Joe Crookston. He had such a kind, easygoing, engaging way about him, neither self-effacing nor self-aggrandizing. I’d read about him in the mass of music information that a local jam organizer sends out each week, but it’s different to meet someone in a quiet ordinary way than to read their promotional material in the midst of everyone else’s promotional material. When I got home I did look up his website and downloaded one of the songs to hear and liked it quite a bit. Maybe I’ll catch one of his shows sometime.

Later I heard the unmistakable noise of approaching heavy machinery. So I stopped playing and looked around. Here comes a dump truck and a bulldozer, and they’re stopping right next to me. Are they going to dig? I don’t see anything that needs to be repaired. The bulldozer lowers its scoop and proceeds to… pick up a small pile of snow!?! The City of Ithaca has no better use for its heavy machinery? A guy with a shovel could have removed that snow just as quickly, with less noise and less waste of fuel and equipment. Wow. This is the last town I would have expected to do something like that, here where everyone’s an environmentalist.

Finally, the woman who makes the gorgeous velvet shawls and such at Shangri-La came over and asked me about playing for their private fashion show this Saturday evening. She offered me a dress in exchange. These dresses are amazing. Flowing silk velvet with intricate burnt-out designs, fringe, and subtle colors. The one we liked best for me is black with paisley and touches of lavender. I’m a little concerned that it might not allow enough movement (I have to be able to bend and squat in order to set up my dulcimer, and I like some freedom of movement while playing), and it’s also so elegant I don’t know when I’ll get to wear it. I’ll be wearing it Saturday night, and then I’ll be able to tell if it’ll work for me or not. Meanwhile I was thinking wouldn’t it be cool to have a fabric featuring my logo, the inner rosette from my dulcimer. She makes the fabrics, so if the black dress doesn’t work, maybe we could negotiate for something custom, perhaps in exchange for another performance sometime.

I also saw some folks from church, talked to a variety of other people, had a sausage and peppers sandwich, and made some money in tips. What a lovely spring day. Except for the bulldozer.