What A Day!
Women’s Singing Night takes place up at the craft school this week and tonight we are six plus a large dog named Weston and a pea-sized dog named Pig. We sit outside around a picnic table with a full view that extends from Conley Ridge to the Black Mountains in the hazy distance. The day has been long and full and the company of women’s voices only makes it run over in the best possible way.
In honor of Pig, who is the size of Weston’s head, we sing a silly round:
Why doesn’t my dog
Sing as well as your dog
When I paid for my dog
Twice as much thou?
I look to Pig and gather no reaction. Instead he huddles in his owner’s arms, the fiddler player from bad-guitar-night last week. She has frosty blue eyes and hardly speaks and her face looks oddly humbled, like Pig’s. But then she sees the words to The Train Song and after thirty minutes of muteness, announces:
“I know The Train Song, too. Yes! The Train Song!”
Mel starts us off, her hair tied shamelessly in an African wrap, although it is not long and the leopard pattern does not match her hippy clothes. She laughs, gulping without hesitation from the jar of Blueberry Cordials that we’re passing around.
To stop the train
in cases of emergency,
pull down the chain!
Pull down the chain!
Penalty for improper use,
Mel waves her hands wildly in the air then repeats the song, adding a full set of hand motions and Noelle, who has been on her feet as a waitress for seven hours today (and has to work the 9pm-11pm at the coffeehouse tonight) starts to laugh uncontrollably. She begins to cry through the laughter and I can see the stress and exhaustion roll off of her like water beading down a duck’s back. Pretty soon we are all laughing between lines of the song, and Meg determines that the only way to keep the round going is to pretend that she is a lunatic train conductor. Meanwhile, Mel and I are the only two capable of carrying our voices over the laughter so we make eye contact, synchronizing our hand motions.
Then Noelle’s brother Arlo, the glass blower, flip-flops his way onto the porch. He takes one look at us and starts curling into himself with laughter. His black, curly hair shakes and bounces and he gasps for air and we end the song, for lack of breath.
On the way home Katydids sing on the sides of the highway and I stick my left arm out the window, bobbing it up and down through the hot air. Dark, black mountains form a rounded, ancient horizon and hoist up the Hemlocks as if their tips could prick more stars into the blanket of sky. My eyes cannot hold all the wealth there is to see at twilight but if they could, I’d drown in fields of gold, azure, magenta, and caramel.
And as if that weren’t enough…When I get home and check my mail, there is a letter from the local arts council awarding me a $1,000 scholarship toward my MFA.