all i ever wanted to do for my birthday was go on a little vacation. so it was the perfect ulterior motive for scheduling a recording session out on orcas island to land on that day. the weeks leading up to it, i could tell we were all a little nervous...nervous to leave home, performance anxiety, so many unknowns. but as soon as we got on the road, saddled up to an early morning breakfast and hit the ferry landing, our spirits were high. there at the landing, in front of us in line, a family with out of state plates tended to their child who was screaming with shit barf and pee soaked pants. we gave them a towel for cleanup in lieu of their tissues, the same towel that our dear old dog passed away on, and told them not to worry, you'll see the ferry coming long before it's time to load, we said.
once we landed, we drove the winding perimeter of the island to bruce's studio, olgabowl, nestled into the deer laden forests above olga. the olgabowl's shiny metal was reminiscent of a space station. inside, instrument upon instrument lined the walls. the recording board, the multi-colored cords, more knobs than you could ever possibly turn in one day, the ribbed foam ceiling, and all of the machinery made it feel even more like we were about to launch some kind of shuttle. appropriately so, i guess....we unloaded gear, bruce set up all the mics, and we got our shaky nerves out on a few scratch tracks. we decided to resume in the morning, and headed to the harlow farm.
at the harlow's, we were greeted jollily by ian. erika is out picking strawberries. she'll be home soon, he said. he showed us around the place...the duck pond, the chickens, the goats, the building he chainsawed into thirds and moved by trailer to his property.....everything had evolved since we'd been there last. miles, a teenager by now, was stoically excited to find us in his driveway. and when erika arrived home with a flat of berries, it was as if she expected us. james and i tried our hands at the nightly chore of goat milking, narrowly avoiding a hoof to the bucket several times. we watched as erica gracefully milked each goat in sequential order, soothing them with her presence and her rhythmic pulls. afterwards, we dined on a feast all from the farm, fresh beets and potatoes and collards and slow-cooked roast and goat cheese. we ate by the fire, laughing while miles did card tricks, sometimes messing them up, sometimes stumping us all. after dinner, we lined the pond, the boys and erica trying their hands clumsily at fishing in the waning light.
the next morning was my birthday. the last couple of years since mom passed, my birthday has been really hard. this year, things were different. i was met with coffee, strawberry waffles, and a tarot reading from erica. the reading said everything i wanted it to say, and i felt empowered. it was the perfect morning, so perfect i could barely handle it, so perfect i cried a little. we packed up and headed to the olgabowl.
what ensued next was fourteen straight hours in the studio. it was intense, it was work, and it was loooong. by the end, all of us were completely fried. but the first time i listened to a song, to what we made, the first time i listened to one of our recordings, chills ran up my spine. it was music. it was art. it was a celebration of life and love and friendship and beauty. and it was the best present i could have ever asked for.
i can't wait to share it with you all.