Back in Ann Arbor I used to go to concerts at Hill Auditorium, a magnificent venue, aesthetically and acoustically. But the audience- yeesh! Talk about your blue-haired snoots. Great, high energy artists would come and the audience would sit there, rigid and self-conscious, murmuring, “yes, yes, that was quite exceptional…” I remember when I saw Bobby McFerrin and Yo-Yo Ma together and one remarkable piece after another, the restrained applause was stupefying. After these concerts the Ann Arbor News would give rave reviews- but seriously, you couldn’t tell by the reaction of audience.
Tonight I revisited the home of my Hollywood debut, Eckerd College, to see The Harlem Gospel Choir. They performed in the gymnasium of all places, to a packed house, of mostly old, mostly white people. Well, can you say amen, mama?! The choir was incredible and the crowd was an absolute hoot. The choir insisted that the audience get up! GET UP, I TELL YOU! Shout. I SAID SHOUT! DO YOU BELIEVE YOU CAN FLY?? I asked you now, DO YOU BELIEVE YOU CAN FLY? About the time the choir got through Ride On, King Jesus and into Oh, When the Saints every octogenarian in the place was dancing in the aisles. Old geezers in blue polyester golf pants were waving their arms back and forth to the rhythm of Jesus Can Work It Out and these creaky old gals were grinding away to Down By The Riverside. By the time the choir started singing “the Black national anthem” every square inch of floor space was jammin’ to Oh, Happy Day! The evening ended with the audience roaring, “A-AMEN! A-AMEN! AMEN, AMEN! It was practically a revival meeting. All I can say is amen to cultural diversity. Also, thank you Jesus, for concerts down here that only cost 10.00 as opposed to 120.00 at Lyric Opera in Chicago and thank you for starting them right after the Early Bird specials and ending them in time for me to be home in bed by nine.
Last year and now this year, I start to miss springtime about now. What I really miss is springtime in Michigan, in Ann Arbor, where eight different mature flowering fruit trees in the half acre front yard would begin to get the vaguest tinges of various shades of pink. I miss living in a place where we would have ducks up from the Huron River and nesting birds gearing up for eggs and then hatch-lings. Chicago is okay; I mean, at least the season changes but it is so crowded, urban, hustle bustle that the main signs of spring are the melting of the blackened snow and the blooming of my dozen tulips Betsy gave me. (Next year, of course, I’ll have 1000 bulbs, thanks to Bud. Right after I jack hammer the courtyard and alley, bring in 800 yards of dirt and get those puppies planted…Betsy, I see daffodils in your future.)
Down here in Florida, it appears there are two seasons: warm pollen season and hot hurricane season. We’re at the tail end of the former. I’ve lived through the annoyance of falling leaves and the allergens of changing seasons but I could never, ever imagine that a tree (the Live Oak or Querus virginiana-querus, indeed) could drop leaves and seeds continuously for 3 months. Damn! Those pollen infested stringy seeds are piled up 2 feet deep around here. You can rake and sweep them up one day and the next day it’s raining down seeds all over again. This goes on for weeks. The leaves make good mulch but the seeds! And the little one inch strands break up into a million microscopic pieces when a 22# cat rolls around in them (ya, ya, he’s not losing any weight). McCloud comes in looking like a giant pile of compost and where he normally has spiffy white sox, these weeks they are bright yellow with pollen.
The good news in the yard has been the Earth Boxes. I am so in love with my Earth Boxes. Remember when I started them mid-January?
And then, within a month they looked like this:
I have a plan to start an Earth Box franchise in Chicago. These will be a huge hit for all the city dwellers who want so much to be green. It’s not easy being green (tee-hee, I made myself laugh) when there are no yards or gardens but these would work really well in courtyards. I’m planning to take back several and start all over again with cool weather lettuce and peas and then tiny tomatoes. The amount of fruit, the constant moisture level, the lack of bugs, the short season high-intensity gardening works for me.
We’ve had a steady supply of beautiful greens and just this week I have more pea pods and tomatoes than I can eat.
I also have peppers: sweet bell, jalapenos, habaneros and datils. So far, only the jalapenos and habaneros are ripe enough to pick; the others are within a week or two.
It’s time to start sharing with the neighbors.