Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Chasing Spring

Just like a car in a movie speeding away from a burning building, that’s what it was like for me and my best friend, Meredith, on our annual pilgrimage to Live Oak, Florida for the Suwannee Springfest bluegrass festival three weeks ago.

Only, the “burning building” wasn’t a building at all, it was rain and temperatures below 65 degrees in South Carolina.

(The horror!)

But there was sunshine ahead. For the five-and-a-half-hour journey, we literally chased after spring to Springfest.

Every 30 miles or so, Meredith looked at the temperature on her dashboard and announced, “It’s 70 degrees!”

And we’d fist pump.

then...“It’s 73 degrees!”

And we would perk up a little in our seats.

By the time we crossed the state line from Georgia to Florida, it was well on its way to 80 degrees and 100 percent sunny. 

We pulled up to the Spirit of Suwannee Music Park with windows down, sunglasses on, and breathed in the sweet, sweet pollen air.
It was so hot I had to change out of my jeans.


This was my 4th annual Springfest, one of my most beloved traditions, and aside from the beautiful park, oak trees, happy people and fantastic bluegrass music, my favorite part is how each year, it’s always the same.  

It’s like the summer vacation our family used to go on every year to a Mississippi state park where everything was almost frozen in timethe cabins, the lake, the beach area, the exact location of the Big Dipper and Orion’s Belt. 

That’s the same thing with Springfest: The stages are set the same, the hammocks that people hang between trees for community lounging are the same.

Fellow festival goers even look the same year after year, right down to the same hippie vendor who I always buy lasagna from.

(Also the hippie vendors who make a delightful “blood juice” with apples and beets which is a must when you wake up in a tent with a hangover.)

Those who camp, and camp often, know that each camping trip is always a unique adventure—remember the time it rained for 48 hours?—or, remember the time we bathed in that cold-ass river??? Or...the time we used the empty box of wine bag as an inflatable pillow?

(Um. For example.)

Springfest 2015’s adventure included the grand adventure of pickin’ around the campsite. More so than any of the previous years.

(Which reminds me that I need to learn how to play MY GOD DAMN FIDDLE ALREADY.)

Meredith and I were fortunate enough this year to camp with talented musician friends from both South Carolina and New Orleans who at first glance had just your average, unremarkable fingers, but holy S they can make the sweetest music come out of wooden things.

(Thank you Tanglers. New Orleans represent!)

Case-in-point: I was sleeping in our tent and woke up because the music around the campfire was so beautiful I had to see it in person. 

(If we had camped closer to the river, I’d probably think it was a mermaid.)

I’d also like to point out that I heard a lot more female singers this year, both at the campsite and on stage, and now I want to be one of them, because they command ALL the attention.

My favorite show on a stage was the legendary bluegrass singer Del McCoury (he's 76 years old!!!) who I have seen at all four Springfests, who has the great talent of making it impossible for me not to smile when I see him play.

With a busy 2015 already under my belt, it was a glorious change to have no phone, no one to check in with, no one to worry about—the only thing on the agenda was to mosey on through the Live Oak trees, deciding which hammock was the best one to nap in, which bands to see.

I've never been more aware of the arrival of spring than at this year’s Springfest. 

We chased it down to Florida (no rain! 80 degrees!) and then I caught it like a fish and reeled it into my brain for 72 hours straight.

I've never been more of a dork reflective of the spring symbolism.

I’d like to say I’m more revived now that I’m back to normal life in South Carolina, but that would be a lie.

I now have bona fide SPRING FEVER and want to be outside all the time.

I can't stop searching for bluegrass music online.

I get frustrated that it gets down to a chilly 61 degrees at night.

...And I can’t stop dreaming about singing mermaids.



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