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.