7/31/2008

Minnesota mugg

It’s the kind of weather my friend from South Dakota calls “Minnesota mugg.” Humidity that slams you in the chest the minute you walk out the door, makes it hard to breathe, makes harps go wildly out of tune and makes harpists uncomfortable and cranky.

It had to give. Born-and-bred Minnesotans can feel when it's time. That much moisture in the air just can’t hang there forever.

The time came this morning. 60 and 70 mph winds and horizontal rain — the rain didn't come down, it went by. The house creaked as I watched the storm swirl, the trees shed branches, garbage cans and recycling bins tumble down the street, the plants bend over nearly flat to the ground.

The Celtic harp sprang an A string with gusto during one particularly powerful wind gust.

I was just about to head to the basement (born-and-bred Minnesotans just know when it's time for this, too)...when it stopped. Calm and gentle rain. Which we needed. And then, mid-morning, the sun came out.

Around 11:00 a.m. my neighbor Ethel called to tell me it looked like a branch of my apple tree in the backyard had come down on her fence.

This is what I saw.

Not just a branch down. My apple tree was gone.

I stood there in the backyard and cried. I hate it when trees leave. And this one has sheltered the west side of my garden since I’ve lived here.

My nice Dad and brother came over that night and cut it down to haul away. I tried to make light of it all, joking with them and trying to impress my brother with my brute strength by lifting a section of trunk on my shoulder and heaving it into the trailer (and I think he was secretly impressed though he'd never admit it). There were a lot of brush-filled trailers heading through town to the compost site. Mine wasn’t the only tree that left in the storm.

But I’ll miss it. It’s like when you’re little and you lose a tooth and you can’t stop your tongue from going to the empty spot, feeling for it. I can’t even estimate the times I went to the backyard to look at the place it had been.

Right away people asked what I would replace my tree with. Somebody suggested planting a magnolia tree. Somebody else a weeping willow because they grow so fast. Then one genius suggested planting a money tree. Funnnny.

I don’t know yet. It still feels like the apple tree is there. I might just live with the space for a while. See what the emptiness says.

This space, however, was easy to fill.

Keeping a new string in tune in late summer will be a good distraction.

7/19/2008

Oh harpist, where is thy luck?

In my 17-year career of playing for weddings, I’ve only had one outdoor wedding get rained out. That’s a pretty good track record.

This year, my lucky streak ended.

Yes, that's rain gushing off the roof. Two feet from my harp.

Frantic brides, soggy lawns, leaky tents, uncomfortable guests, lightning, puddles. Waiting and waiting and waiting for a break in the rain.

In the end, the ceremonies happened. Everybody still got married, every bride got her outdoor wedding. Some officiants rushed through the ceremonies with eyes on the sky. Some made good analogies about not being able to control our futures or another person any more than we can control the weather and isn’t that what marriage is all about (good point, Pastor Steve). Some good-naturedly stood there getting soaked, giving heart-felt readings from first Corinthians.

I watched them all from the garage, the tent, the covered deck. Waited for my cues. Played my heart out. Stomped through more mud in cute shoes than I ever have before.


Maybe it’s because I’ve also played at more outdoor weddings this year than ever before. There must be something more and more appealing about getting married outside. More adventurous couples, more risk takers willing to give up control and see what the future holds.

Kind of gives me hope for the future of young marriages.