Who says you need palm trees and rain forests and giant iguanas to feel like Dr. Livingston? I can get that feeling just sitting on my back deck, listening to the crickets—those that haven’t expired from over-exposure—and watching my hair frizz. Ah, yes, it’s the dog days of summer, but, unfortunately, I’m not a dog, I’m not air conditioned, and I don’t know how to make a mint julep. So I solve the heat and humidity problem by immersing myself in the air conditioned theaters of New York City. Yes, Broadway, off-Broadway, how wonderful you are! Since my return from Asia I have had an ongoing battle with giardia, but I have managed to drown my sorrows in some pretty marvelous concerts, movies, and plays, some of which I’ve participated in and most of which I’ve attended. Highly recommended: Journey’s End, which closed, even though it won the Tony (people are tired of war, but nobody seems to be very effective in stopping it), Radio Golf (the last of August Wilson’s plays), Frost/Nixon, which won Frank Langella the Tony this year, Facing East, about a Mormon couple dealing with the suicide of their gay son, A Moon for the Misbegotten, a superb revival starring Kevin Spacey and Eve Best, Coram Boy, the superb British import, Talk Radio, with Tony-nominated Liev Schreiber, 110 in the Shade, featuring the superb Audra McDonald, and Jersey Boys, which I finally saw by getting the last two standing room seats with my friend, Paul Sharar.
I spent so much time in my last blog entry lamenting the travel-related ailments upon my return that I forgot to mention how great it was to get back to my friends, my family, my symphony, my book club, and my church. Funny how self-absorbed we can become with our petty problems and forget what is really important in our lives.
For the past several years a highlight of the early summer has been the Mt. Laurel Autoharp Festival in Newport, PA. I was lucky enough to stay in the campground with my friends, Carole and Fisk Outwater from Charlotte, NC, and renew old friendships with the greats of the country and folk music tradition. It’s wonderful to see how the instrument Glen and I inherited in 1962 and worked to improve has been modified by skilled luthiers beyond our wildest dreams. And it’s gratifying to connect with the grown-up “students” who learned the instrument from my early method books. This year I was blown away by Will Smith and Ron Wall, of Nashville, and Lucille Reilly of Colorado. Thanks to Coleen and Neal Walters for gathering a superb group of pickers from around the country!
You all know by now my great love of New Hampshire, especially Lake Winnipesaukee and the White Mountains, where I acquired my passion for hiking and camping at an early age. Every year my two sisters and I spend the last week in June together at our family cottage. We brave the freezing water—even this year when the temperature went to 40 degrees at night—and we laugh and reminisce like the WOWs (Wonderful Older Women) we’ve become. Thanks to our parents, Charles and Grace Noble, for bequeathing this magnificent space to us.
It’s always great to reconnect with relatives and this I did with my second cousin, Chris Exley, the youngest of the three sons of my cousin Beth Noble Exley and Jim Exley. I can never be sure what the nomenclature of these relationships is, but I do know that I’ve watched him grow from a skinny kid to a strapping 6 ft. 8 or thereabouts and it sure makes you feel old! He and his charming wife, Carole, spend part of the summer at their family cottage on Mirror Lake near Wolfeboro, NH. Like the Nobles, they’ve been coming to the area since childhood. The whole family is very active in the arts and the three children are no exception. It was a delight to read some of the poetry of Bryan, 15, and find out that Lauren, 17, will be attending Westminster Choir College in Princeton next year as a piano and voice major. Then there is adorable Sarah, who sings, dances, and paints at age 8. Next year I’ll catch up with the other two sons.
After the week at the cottage I spent several days with Lynne Warrin, the co-author of our play, Thank You, Dear, which was performed in Deerfield, MA, several years ago, and is now being sent out to regional theaters. Like all writers we decided that the time for revision was over and the time for action was NOW.
Unfortunately, I won’t be able to visit Whidbey Island, WA, this year, but Jon Pollack, my climbing buddy from the Himalayas and I are already planning a week in the Cascades for the summer of 2008. After that, it’s Kilimanjaro with the entire family. But I’m getting ahead of myself….
I talked for an hour today with daughter Cary, who has returned from the remote Kilung Valley near the Kham region of Tibet. She tells me it’s very green, with gently rolling hills, so different from the stark mountains and treeless plains we drove through in central Tibet three years ago. She plans to return to Tibet in August for a retreat at the Samya Monastery not far from Lhasa. You can get a fuller picture of her travels at: www.carypeterson.wordpress.com.
In all fairness to New Jersey, it turned cool and beautiful as I was writing these last paragraphs (I’m a slow writer). Wouldn’t you know…just as I leave for three weeks at the cottage. Hope your summer is full of rest and fun. The kind of recreation that re-creates. Let me hear about your adventures. I’ll catch up with you when I return from the mountains.