Wow. I’m actually taking a day off from writing about the Israeli-Arab conflict. And I’m going to write about something pleasant, peaceful and idyllic for a change.
Don’t tell anyone (in case they decide they should move here), but Seattle summers are simply glorious. And I’m going to tell you about one summer day (today).
My son, Jonah has spent the last two weeks in a musical theater camp taught by his public school music teacher. The musical’s theme was “outer space.” The kids did everything: made costumes, sets, learned lines, songs, and even baked dessert for the after performance dinner. Besides all this, they did day trips to the Museum of Flight and the University of Washington planetarium to learn more about space. They even picked 40 pounds of fresh raspberries at Remlinger Farms and made ice cream and pie out of it for the dinner.
Jonah loves tending and picking the greens in our home garden. So he informed me that we had to make a salad for the dinner. He was very worried about my doing the job and even wanted to start picking the greens the day before the event himself. I promised him I would do it earlier today so the greens would stay fresh. So I went out back and picked lettuce, spinach, sorrel, basil and Johnny Jump Ups, and the first purple bean of the season, along with snap peas from the Farmer’s Market, and we had ourselves a wonderful fresh summer salad.
The songs chosen for the musical were mostly wacky funny old rock and pop songs from the 60s and 70s. In their original form, these songs were at best insipid. But somehow when a group of children start singing about a “one-eyed, one-horned flying purple people eater” it is transformed into something charming. The production was amazingly resourceful. As I wrote, the kids made everything themselves. You shoulda seen the flying purple people eater! And they did it in the same spirit that Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney used to say: “Gee, let’s put on a show,” in those old MGM movies.
The entire thing was utterly charming from start to finish. Jonah was also jazzed that his mom invited a whole group of neighbors to walk down the street to the local church which hosted the performance. He had a very friendly audience! But the kids would’ve won over the most somber audience.
Even after we left the church grounds on our way to hear Emmylou Harris’s Three Girls and Their Buddy concert, my wife kept marveling at how wonderful the performance was.
At any rate, we made our way to the Woodland Park Zoo, where one of my favorite female performers in the world, Emmylou Harris was joining with Patty Griffin, Shawn Colvin and Buddy Miller for an outdoor performance in the Zoo’s north meadow. The space is a wonderful bowl surrounded by mature maple and pine trees. The summer evening was gorgeous with brilliant sunny weather.
At the Zootunes concert last week, when we came to see Mavis Staples and Allen Toussaint, we witnessed a bald eagle trailed by 10 crows who harried it incessantly. A wonderful sight and only here in our beautiful Northwest.
The concert was wonderful. I especially love the Shawn Colvin song which she sang tonight, I Don’t Know Why I Love These Things But I Do. It is simply one of the most profound, moving love songs I’ve ever heard and one of the best songs she’s ever written. As an aside, Allison Krause and Union Station turned it into a pretty credible up tempo bluegrass tune in their cover version.
But the piece de la resistance was Patty Griffin’s closing encore, Mary. The YouTube video here only begins to do justice to the gorgeous interweaving of heavenly harmonies in the final minute of the song when the three women’s voices simply soar. But listen to the video to get an approximation of how it sounded tonight.
Because Zoo Tunes concerts begin at 6 PM, tonight’s show ended at 8 and we didn’t want to go home before the kids were asleep (what’s the point of going out if you come home and have to put your kids to bed?). So I suggested that we have dessert at the Volunteer Park Cafe, which turned out to be lovely idea. We had a blueberry rhubarb crisp topped with whipped cream. It came out of the oven steaming hot. The sauce was thick and syrupy and had an intensely strong blueberry flavor. Again, another perfect Northwest summer dessert.
Even though we’ve lived here now for ten years, I still had to tell my wife how lucky we are to live here.
And please, remember, you didn’t hear this from me. We’d prefer to keep Seattle a secret just amongst ourselves. Just keep in mind all that foul, dark rainy winter weather we’re supposed to have (we actually average 10 inches LESS of rain yearly than New York City!). That ought to keep most of you away!