From the ashes…

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Pippin and I spent a glorious weekend at Bastrop State Park in Bastrop, TX.  The park was deeply affected by the Bastrop County Complex fires that began Labor Day weekend of 2011.  96% of the park was burned resulting in closure of the park until December of 2012.  Evidence of the fire is everywhere you look but there is also evidence of rebirth.  It was wonderful to see the park full of campers, despite the fact the toilets are portable ones and the showers are temporary structures.  New construction is everywhere.

Bastrop State Park 006Pippin and I arrived on a gray Friday afternoon.  A front was expected that night but the forecast for Saturday and Sunday looked to be perfect.  This was Pippin’s first camping trip but he settled right in and figured out his tie-out pretty quickly.  He kept watch as I unloaded the truck and set up camp.  We had time for a bit of hiking and exploring the grounds before dinner and then bed.  I was a bit concerned about how Pippin would behave in the tent but he figured out the ground rules (no pun intended) in short order.  The 50% chance of rain thankfully did not materialize but there were some pretty high winds.   The winds caused some of the burned tree branches to snap and come thudding to the ground–a bit disconcerting as I remembered taking pictures of some really tall, burned pines not to far from where my tent was pitched.  Pippin didn’t like the noise and tried to climb in bed with me a couple of times.  Okay, he actually tried to climb on top of me…he can be such a chicken at times!

Bastrop State Park 039By morning the skies were already clearing and Pippin and I set out on a hiking trip right after breakfast.  The air was cold and still windy but perfect for hiking.  Armed with my camera, water for the two of us and some snacks we set out on what was left of the Lost Pines Hiking Trail.  About half of the trail is still shut down and we managed to miss a turn or two and ended up way further out than intended.  Then the trail I took to get back to camp was only partially rebuilt so another detour resulted in a traveling 3 or 4 miles further than originally intended.  Nevertheless, the day was beautiful and the park, even with acre upon acre of burned pine forest had a special kind of beauty all its own.  I had fun experimenting with my camera and trying different shots. 

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Bastrop State Park 113Dinner that night was cooked over a fire built in the fire pit and tasted delicious; dessert consisted of tortillas warmed over the fire with Irish butter and St. Dalfour’s Strawberry Jam.  Yum!!!!  A cup of tea to sit by the fire was the perfect end to a glorious day.  The night was clear and chilly and the stars were shining brightly along with a huge moon.  I’m told that Friday night was the full moon known as the “Hunter’s Moon”. 

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Pippin and I slept in Sunday morning, not a hard thing to do after the long hike Saturday and the fact that it got down below 40 during the night.  It was cozy in that sleeping bag and I felt incredibly grateful for so much; the few days away, the near perfect weather, the beauty of a park in the midst of rebirth.  Topped off  by a delicious breakfast of eggs and more tortillas with butter and jam I began the process of breaking camp with a tremendous sense of peace.   It would be easy to look at the park and feel sadness but I believe there are seasons for all things.  There are so many that care and are working hard to see the park restored.  And that is as it should be…

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Fear and the art of playing the guitar…


I have a love-hate relationship with my guitar.  It’s been going on as long as I can remember.  I love the actual guitar itself–a beautiful, Rainsong Acoustic/Electric which I won in a contest that singer/songwriter, David Wilcox had when he released his CD “Vista” some years back.  It’s a nicer guitar than I ever could have afforded myself and since it is graphite, it is the perfect guitar to take to festivals and camping.

I enjoy playing the guitar because it allows me to accompany myself when I sing, which I love to do more than just about anything.  It is when it comes to performing that I begin to feel completely inept.  If I’m being perfectly honest, having to sit in front of an audience and accompany myself on guitar simply scares the crap out of me.  You might as well strip me naked and put me out there for all the world to see.  And it’s not the performing itself; getting up and singing in front of a room full of people might elicit a few minor nerves but put a guitar in my hand and serious anxiety kicks into overdrive.

It’s garbage thinking really.  No, I’m not the best guitar player in the world but I can get by well enough to sing my songs.  At least in my living room in front of the dog I can.  It’s when I’m up on a stage with all eyes on me that it tends to fall apart.  I don’t know if you’ve ever played guitar before but it is problematic at best to play when your hands are shaking.    I keep telling myself that I just need to keep plugging away at it; that if I just keep getting up there I’ll eventually get to the point that it will be more comfortable.  So far that theory hasn’t exactly worked but who knows, maybe someday.

I have been fortunate to have some really excellent guitar players as friends who have been gracious enough to try to bestow some of their expertise on me.  My friend Randall Williams must have given me 10 or 12 hours of lessons in a 4 day period when he was in town for a gig once.  My friend Bill Nash, who is the High King of our camp (Camp Nashbill) at the Kerrville Folk Festival, has taught me to Travis pick and offered an incredible amount of encouragement.   Then there’s my friend David Llewellyn who has spent hours going over and over techniques and showing me little tricks of the trade to help me add a little extra sparkle to my songs.  I’m incredibly grateful to them all and there is a big part of me that feels like I’m letting them down every time I get up in front of people and flub things up.  They seem to believe in me–why can’t I believe in myself?

I don’t know the answer to that.  I just know that I need to keep trying.  Maybe someday I’ll get out of my head enough,  let go of my perfectionist BS and just learned to have fun doing it.  Until then, I’m grateful to those who have offered encouragement, expertise and inspiration.  Namaste…