a reunion

i’m fairly sure i am not alone in having had a teenage super star crush. whether it be tv, film or music, i imagine everyone can recall that beloved heart throb you dreamed about. mine was bruce springsteen. no one could count the number of hours my best friend and i spent listening to the music, chasing after unusual tracks, swapping bootleg tapes (you know readers, cassettes). we went to as many shows as our teenagehood  would allow and stopped short of nothing to meet the man himself, an event that actually happened in the parking lot of that sheraton hotel in rosemont, il. sometime in the mid eighties (date please jeannette?)

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my life’s path veered away from bruce’s trails and those of my dear friend, but she stuck with bruce seeing shows around the world and back. in recent years, once the internet reconnected my friend and i,  the thought of a shared springsteen experience has come up again. there was talk of chicago, an attempt in louisville but it couldn’t come together until last week, bridgstone arena,  april 17th,  nashville.


the last time i hugged these two dears simultaneously could easily have been our final field hockey game of our senior year in high school, 1984. the last time i saw bruce springsteen was in college, not long after. in the first minutes of greeting my old friends, the decades evaporated and i was full of that familiar love that you can only feel with people that have known you long and well. in the flurry of preparing for the show (a process far different from what i can recall) we caught up on years of life. the joys and tragedies that we each have experienced in our twenties, our thirties and our forties. gosh.


we arrived at the venue hours before the gates opened to get a numbered wristband. i was soon to learn that at 5:00 they would cease offering the wristbands and promptly draw a number. the person wearing that numbered band and the 399 people sequentially following,  would be allowed into the pit, the area front and center, of the stage. in these hours i gradually met countless people who comprised the amazing circle of bruce fans that were travelling buddies of my old friend jeannette. these folks not only invited me into their world with open arms, but they also, i was soon to find out, had a special spot for us, a place from which we were to view this reunion concert, it took a few hours to unfold, but when i discovered the spot they had in mind, i couldn’t really believe it, yep, it was the front row.

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perhaps it goes without saying, but i am going to say it anyway, i had the time of my life. i was dancing and singing like i hadn’t in, well, i can’t remember when. in those hours that began in the mid afternoon and didn’t end until well past midnight, my heart soared over and over again. i was embraced by friends old and new and listened to some pretty amazing music. it was somewhere in the middle of “spirit in the night”, with my hands reaching out and touching bruce himself (this was to happen over and over again throughout the show) i was filled to the brim with the moment. it was an unusual one for me, rock concerts are not in my normal routine. somehow the company of my oldest friends, the support of a new group of people, and the familiar tunes of my truest rock star love came together in the most memorable of evenings. now, days later, i still have lyrics dancing in my head and spilling out of my mouth (the kids are finding this completely hilarious), amazing thoughts of that wonderful night, and the deepest heartfelt thanks to all that made it happen…you know who you are!


show a little faith there’s magic in the night




“Bloom where you’re planted.”

elephant 1It’s such a good idea, but truth be told, some locations demand a skillful gardener to coax blooms.

In our dark little hollow, we’ve found that the more trees we clear, the more flowers bloom. When we cleared the western fence row, a long row of day lilies sprang up. When the larger sycamore in the pasture came down, an ancient hydrangea came to bloom. More light, more air, more flowers.

This spring we sent our most mature sprout up into the sun, to see how she bloomed. We put her in the care of some energetic and creative gardeners. With their care, she has done well.jb wolf 2

The Jungle Book production at our local high school was a smashing success. The gardeners, otherwise known as directors, cultivated a crew of more than forty young people, ages 6 to 18, through two and a half months of intense rehearsals. Some participants were seasoned perennials, but many of the youngsters were first time transplants in the world of theater.

If the thought of choreographing forty mixed age kids into a cohesive hour and a half long stage production isn’t enough to make you shake in your boots, consider that they also used live music. The high school band performed the entire score. “Bare Necessities, and “Wanna Be Like You”, and plenty more, too.jb bee 2

Live music adds such depth to a performance. There’s something about the vibration of the trombone, the piano string, that cannot be captured and replayed without a living player. And there’s so much to learn about singing with real musicians. It’s easier to sing with canned music. It never changes – you can change your voice all you want, but you know the recorded tune will not alter. Much easier. To sing a song with live musicians means forming a listening relationship with each other. It’s a wonderful thing to learn – and good strong work.

We know our sprouts, here on the farm. We know Lulah to be an active, spicy girl with strong opinions. She can be easily distracted, but when she sets her mind to a task, her determination will see her through.jb elephant

But she hasn’t done a lot of growing in the larger world. She’s comfortable at the homes of our family and friends, and at our home church. But consider that she’s never been in a classroom with a built-in set of thirty peers. Her closest friends are children she has known either since she was born or they were. They have their own codes of familiarity, and they love one an-others company in a particularly unconditional, deep, and wonderful way.

I had no idea how she would adapt to the company of so many new kids. Even though she can be outrageously expressive at home, I have seen her be reserved, even almost shy, in less familiar environments. But again, the skilled gardeners find a way. The show directors took time to break the ice, play games, and create structure to keep the kids busy with one another in different age groups. When I ventured into the hallowed auditorium to drop off or pick up my little performer, I was happy with the environment I encountered. The kids were friendly without pretense, and though Lulah wasn’t always engaged talking with someone, she never seemed put out about it. Throughout the course of the show, especially as dress rehearsals began to get more intense, she bonded more closely with a couple of the other girls. She was content with her experience. And so, I could be too.jb wolf

Rehearsals took place during some horrible winter weather, then through the first few spring rushes of intense work in the garden, then through the loss of the third member of our family to pass away in less than a year. Lulah definitely learned that the show must go on. And it’s been good, that regularity, and the carrying of the creative spark even in the mundane work. Lulah was pushed (she always slept well after rehearsals), but just far enough to become productive, never to the point of burn out. Creativity, brought to fruition, is a lot of work, after all.

Rehearsals were closed. Even though we ate, slept, and breathed the Jungle Book, we had no idea how the performance would actually look. It was a great surprise. We intended to attend just a couple of the five performances, letting family and friends fill in for us on other nights, but in the end, we only missed one show. Even watching the performances unfold was wonderful. Everyone gained such confidence and familiarity over the course of those five days. It was like time lapse photography of a blooming field of wildflowers – with a really groovin’ soundtrack.jb bee

I can’t help but admit that I’m relieved to be free of rehearsal schedule. I’m sure we all are. But I have no regrets about the time well spent. The cut flowers on our table remind me just how much our Lulah has bloomed. I’m grateful for the patient production team, skilled gardeners all, who take the time to help our children grow this way. The beauty and fun, the living color, sound, and movement that they are cultivating in our community is vital to the root, heart and soul.jb whole cast2