Trifextra: Week Seventy-Two: SUMMER IS…

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SUMMER IS… in 33 words

Summer is ‘The Mill’!  Music in the air… everywhere.  There are violins, guitars, flutes, harps, accordions, drums of all kinds, harmonicas, banjos, cellos, tambourines, horns, pianos, squeeze-boxes, cymbals, lots of singing and dancing!



The instructions for the Trifextra Writing Challenge this week were… “This weekend we’re asking you to describe summer in your own words. Thirty-three of them exactly, of course. Good luck!”


Each summer high in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, somewhere near Yosemite, about 500 souls gather for a conclave of The Sierra Music and Arts Institute… more commonly known as Sweet’s Mill.  The old timers just call it The Mill.  For 60 years now, on the site of an old sawmill, a music and arts retreat takes place in the form of a giant campout.  Musicians from around the world come together to share their knowledge and talents with others, and just plain perform.  Artists gather to demonstrate their skills and teach others.  There’s also drama taught, with two plays being produced.  Do you want to learn how to belly dance, flamenco, tango or swing?  Classes for that.  At night on different stages, there are performances to show off new-found skills, and for old friends to get together and jam.  And, lots of dancing!

I help out in the Arts Area.  I don’t play a musical instrument, but I write stories and take thousands of photos.  Here are two from last year.  The photo of the young man playing the steel guitar got me a ‘Best of Show’ ribbon at our county fair, in its category.  He was sitting at a table near the main stage practicing or maybe just playing… there’s a lot of that going on.  It made a great still-life photo.

But my favorite photo of all, is this one of a woman playing the violin.  For me, the story makes the photo, and I’ll tell how I came to take this one.  I had gone up to the Flamenco Camp, because I had never been there.  The Mill is over 200 acres, with different interest groups banding together in camps.  There’s Gypsy Camp, Flamenco, Cowboy, Meditation Meadow, Old Timey, Bluegrass and on and on.  There are still some I have to discover.  So, one day I went up to the Flamenco Camp and watched a maestro teach a group of children the fine points to playing a flamenco guitar. Some women practiced dance to the music on a small stage they had made.  As I was leaving, I heard the most beautifully haunting violin music.  I went toward some tents expecting to see the violinist, but nothing.  I followed the music up a hill through increasingly heavy brush, and finally in a small clearing I found a young woman playing a violin.  I snuck a photo and listened to her play.  She finally stopped, saw me and shyly smiled.  I asked if I could take her photo, and she beamed and posed for me.  They are nice photos of her facing me, but I like the first one I took best.  So, that’s kind of two faces of The Mill.  I’m leaving in two weeks… I can’t wait.



Here’s one I wrote for Trifecta that I liked… I had a great time last summer listening to music and enjoying the creative camaraderie in our camp… and of course got some great photo.  There will be no music at the ‘Mill’ this year due to the lack of rainfall in California.

32 responses

  1. Ted this sounds wonderful. I love festivals and the tradition that is established with them over time. I also enjoyed the photos, especially with the accompanying stories. I am very fond of sharing my experiences this way.

    1. Me too, Joe, I’ve seen yours… you have a lot going on over at ‘Joe’s Musings’ I try to post a pic a day on tedbooksdailypics, and usually try to tell a story. Most often the pic does the telling.

    1. There is one for every photo. Thanks.

  2. It seems to be a magical and soul building place, so very happy that you get to experience all of the gifts that it offers…..Happy Summer.

    1. That it is! Thank you Michel.

  3. I can see why your photo won-it’s really good! I love the photo of the young woman playing the violin too, and I had to smile when I read about the hauntingly beautiful music she played. I played violin, and I’m sure the memory of my playing still haunts my music teachers;)

    I liked these 33 musical words of yours. I think I’d like going to The Mill myself!

    1. Thank you, Valerie… your sailor suit would be a welcome sight, however it might leave tie-dyed.

      That photo won for the still-life division (not the whole fair)… I was surprised at that, until I looked at all the elements in the photo, there is a lot going on.

      “still haunts my teachers”… you crack me up!

  4. Ted that sounds wonderful. I’m going to be in that area on my honeymoon shortly, but I couldn’t find a site that would tell me the dates – I don’t expect it will coincide, but my future husband and I love festivals, so if you could let me know, that would be great.

    1. Hi Claire… congratulations on your impending honeymoon. Yosemite would be the perfect place… especially at the Ahwahnee Hotel. I think ‘festival’ is the wrong word choice on my part. I think I will change it, as a festival is a celebration and this is more of a retreat and is private. My daughter had to ‘pull some strings’ to get me in a few years ago, this is my third time. This year will be her daughter’s 12th time… she is 12… they couldn’t have kept her out, I guess. I think there is a waiting list ‘a mile long’ as they say. Once you go, you will never give up your spot.

      Throwing some rice in your direction!

      1. We’re doing a bit of a road trip – San Francisco, Big Sur, Sequoia and then in a log cabin just outside Yosemite.
        And thanks for the information about Sweet’s Mill – it was always going to be a long shot. Sounds wonderful.

      2. I think a log cabin would be nicer than the Ahwahnee, actually… given the circumstances. Have fun Claire… Hwy 1 is always a great time.

  5. beautiful! I love violin music – always wanted my girls to “take” violin, but their talents lie elsewhere. I do so love to listen, though. Enjoy your time at the Mill.

    1. Thank you, Barbara. I’m take a photo printer with me, to give 4×6’s to the people I capture. I post them on trees. I don’t know if the girl with the violin ever got hers, but it was gone when I went to take them down on the last day.

  6. Cobbie's World | Reply

    What I like about your piece is how you have tapped into that feeling of freedom to pursue your own interests that arises in summer and/or while on vacation. When you multiply that feeling of personal freedom times the hundreds and thousands of other souls who are your kindreds spirits then, well, it makes for such a joyful world to be a part of. I envy you, my friend. Have a blast!!!

    1. I will Cobbie! It is a personal freedom that is hard to attain in this modern world. No cell service, and one spot for wi-fi… I said I would pitch my tent nearby and my daughter said I could not come to their camp to eat… the food, and the company, won out.

  7. Oh music is so much a part of summer … we have a festival here in Stockholm that I will go to… Prince and Rodriquez among others… I look forward to that.

    1. PRINCE! I will be expecting a poem on that, B.

  8. Sounds like fun. Hope you have a great time Ted.

    1. Thanks, Betty… you can keep track on my dailypics… except, I can’t really post pics of people on the internet, they are very strict about that. I did last year, when you couldn’t really identify anyone, but this year I am going to ask permission of the subject, than I think that will be okay. Makes it hard for group shots, but the ‘individual caught in a moment’… that’s what I really look for.

  9. Even though I live a few hours away I was not familiar with this festival. I will look into it and if not this year, then next. Your trifextra piece and your longer explanation ooze with excitement, and makes me want to experience it. Thanks for bringing it to our attention!

    1. No one will be familiar, Steph, as it is private… but I will stop by for dinner on my way there… hope you are north of Fresno on I-5.

  10. That sounds absolutely fantastic! I’d love to take part in something like that.

  11. What a great sound of summer. 🙂

  12. Sounds like quite the party!

  13. What a great way to spend the summer! Thanks for sharing Ted! 🙂

  14. Music is probably summer’s third definition (:

  15. KymmInBarcelona | Reply

    Sounds great! Enjoy.

  16. Hi Ted, This is Jill, one of the bakers from Sweets Mill. I just wanted to tell you that I appreciate the photos you take at camp & post on the trees. You seem to capture the spirit of people… Thank you.

  17. My family and I had a great reunion at Yosemite last August, left just as the fire was smoking everyone out. I’m sad there won’t be any music this year due to lack of rain. Great post!

  18. Ooo, I kind of want to go to there…a shame about the lack of rainfall causing it to be cancelled. It’s hitting the whole state pretty hard.

  19. Oh, the Mill sounds delightful.

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