Tag Archives: roosterwalk 5


30 May

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“The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it.” — J.M. Barrie

Hippies. Nature folk. Rasta. The Fae …however one would want to label them,  Neverlandish dreadheaded, colorfully clothed children in adult bodies came out in droves at Roosterwalk with only one common goal: living life moment by moment fully connected to the music and to the natural world.

After reflecting on my own three days in nature, albeit car camping, I can understand why they tend to live the way they do. Right now, Virginia is vivid vibrant green, soaked to the seams in rain and humidless sunshine. The air is packed with the perfume of life, fragrances I never really noticed before. Wafts of honeysuckle cloud move in warm drifts through the trees and tall grass, the flowers cast a veil  all around their wet nodding heads; the hay spread over mud mixes into a nutty earthiness which rises up from the ground as from a dark dough. Before this weekend, I didn’t really comprehend the value of fresh air before, of breathing with the plants in the elements, fully allowing the air and wet earth to engage with my own body. The value of an open window didn’t strike me as important as it does now. Sleeping in forty degrees and waking to sunshine and cows calling at dawn changes a person’s perspective. Simple exposure, reveals the Self. The weather changes so quickly that one HAS to be in the moment. I’d go down to a tank top and then in two hours, four layers, a sweater and mitts were standard attire.

These folk who travel festival to festival, live quite naturally. This urge to bind within a spiritual harmony of sorts…to nomadically drift, giving hostage to fortune and being completely who one is without shame is admirable. The sense of doing without the trappings of material culture is somehow appealing to me of late because to own an American life means to be tied to a great deal of nothingness. When a fire, a divorce, or an employment pause can take one to the brink of what seems to be the loss of everything, this way of letting go can seem the only way to understand that life and the Self are the greatest possessions the Universe loans us, for they are just as impermanent as the rest. In mud, tree, and moon, I found I just didn’t care anymore. This weekend changed me. When I was hungry, I ate. Body functions pretty naturally took care of themselves and I didn’t worry about brushing my hair or really wearing more than protective cosmetics against the sun. These people and experience in the elements taught me the real meaning of comfort versus necessity.

A group of free spirits erected a geodesic dome near my campsite, inside of which they hung a silk swing like Cirque du Soleil ala SWVa. I never traversed the field of mud to see inside it, but the laughter of children rang out from the white pendulum inside all Saturday evening.  I discovered that this troupe was  scheduled to perform fire dancing alongside the main band both evenings. Their Saturday night performance was most elaborate, each vignette a dramatic story of personified emotion. I was reminded of medieval morality plays, their characters, an allegory of the human experience. The dancers’ pantomime interpreted the tone of the music rather than song lyrics. Their small globes of fire left bright furrows of arching light and smoke in my eye. Likewise, colorfully lit hula hoops were spun by others in a ballet all weekend. Old or young, male or female, hoop dancing along the sides of the stages occurred spontaneously, some dancers so fluid and lithe the performance seemed choreographed.

One particular dancer caught my eye; a young blonde lad would mysteriously appear and then either dance or grab a hoop, and move in toward the music like a low rolling cloud, letting the wave of inspiration take and turn him in the airy surge. Every time he moved, the languid sinuousness of his body was beyond envy, his expressiveness a pure visual delight. But, as soon as my camera would begin to record, like sea foam he would let the wave pull him out into the ocean of others and the tide would calm. A lesson in his transitory performances revealed to me that this type of physical art, born of the moment and of human response to the symbolic isn’t to be kept or recorded, but merely witnessed. Like the Tibetan sand mandala the creative process and expression is the true beauty and revelation in the act.

Saturday night, several girls in faerie costume and wings flitted about the crowd, dancing together with a few lads in beach towel capes. Their playful innocence assured me that my own enjoyment of child’s play is not odd or in vain. Simply put, we were born awake and we still hear the call of creative abandon. Glow-in-the-dark bracelets were tossed about the crowd, several making their way into balloons to be batted around among the lot of us. A lad with a laser lit them up as they floated and glowed green like little eggs from Wonderland. Tiny pin points from his wand broke the leaves of the trees into shards of living light. In the midst of this playfulness, a point arrived where the dancing I had been drawn into all weekend, changed.

I let go.

I didn’t care who saw me or what they thought. I moved how my body wanted to move. That letting go created an openness in me but also, now that I think back, a vulnerability. To physically express so publicly opens a person to judgment of what is most precious within. It is still an intimate act to invite eyes into that sort of artistic baring of Self. And perhaps what I learned is that in areas of creativity, that which we fear to put to public view shows us our own vulnerabilities. For me, it is my body. And to express physically is something I know I need to do more in order to grow. Even though a gentleman behind me approached me after Yarn’s rendition of Simon’s Late in the Evening, thanking me for dancing, I was slightly embarrassed and instantly apologetic.

He laughed loudly. Don’t apologize! I’m complementing you.

Can I learn to simply say thank you as with the other forms of creativity in which I engage?

In the days that have followed this festival, I have dreamed in images of green rushing trees and banjos. Beloved is speaking again, mostly in poetry that I can’t wake up enough to catch. She left me with this line early yesterday morning.

In leaves and seasons, so it is with the music of the world.

And I think this means to keep moving…to turn and turn again, like the circular swaying of the hooper, like the swinging arc of the fire dancer’s flame. In the ballet of the symbolic, we turn like the earth, singing its song, leaping between this world and Neverland.

This Instant

27 May


I’ve just returned from Roosterwalk Music Festival 5 at Blue Mountain Festival Grounds outside Martinsville, Virginia. Attending this event was a first in many ways, as it was not only my first three-day music festival, but also my first solo camping experience. From mid-day Friday until this morning, I had access to cell service only if I walked the two miles to the highest hill near the festival site. The catalog of experiences which made their way into my tiny journal and cell phone voice recorder as well as the over 577 photographs I took in the last three days are a testament to the beauty of music and its power to bring people together in harmony and in fellowship.

Roosterwalk Festival was begun in memory of Edwin “the Rooster” Penn and Walker Shank who both unfortunately passed away in their 20’s. Friends created this memorial event, celebrating the two young men’s love of music and of the outdoors. Proceeds benefit the Penn-Shank Memorial Scholarship at Martinsville High School. One of the greatest gifts I received this weekend was the good fortune to camp beside some of Walker Shank’s immediate family who were so kind and gracious to me. The connections I made and all the experiences will take some days to sort and to write about fully, but I wanted to give a preview of some of the things I learned from my first music festival/ camping experience.  Most prominent was the highly unusual weather. All weekend the temperature dropped into the 40’s. Friday night’s low was 36 degrees.  The site had seen a torrential storm on Thursday and so the mud was nearly six inches thick…everywhere.  But the days were in the low 70’s and not a drop of rain in the sky. The full moon made for some incredible pictures and I will be posting them soon. Strangely enough, the music isn’t what moved me so much this weekend. It was the people and the connections made.IMG_8160Saturday night, walking back to my car and it’s tent appendage, I looked up to see a tiny light in the sky right by the checkpoint into the camping area. I asked one of the festival volunteers, a gentleman probably in his sixties. . .

“Oh, what’s that?!” my eyes opening wide.

“It’s a Chinese lantern”, he said. “You light this tiny candle in it and the air heats and it flies.”

“It’s so beautiful” I replied, looking upward.

“Yep, sure is…” he smiled.”There’s a lot a beautiful things to see out here at night…includin’ you.”  He chuckled a bit. “Be careful walking back…you got your light?”

I held up my tiny red Maglite.

“Okay then…be safe young lady.”

People are so amazing…they just are.  There is kindness in the Universe. You don’t really need to even look for it.

Things I learned from Roosterwalk 5:

1. No cell service can be a blessing…the sky is so blue…the moon so bright…Chinese Lanterns float at midnight.
2. Honeysuckle really does smell that good. Virginia is the most beautiful place.
3. Cows…they moo… at sunrise. And moo. And moo. And then. . . moo some more.
4. People are incredibly generous and kind… the high ones are groovy…the drunken ones, not so much sometimes.
5. There are children in adult bodies left in the world…the lost boys still exist. Ragtag clothes and dreadlocks and hula hoops and balloons from Neverland.
6. Peeing in a cup…got it.
7. Stuff doesn’t matter…people do. Listen to stories.
8. Belly dancing to bluegrass?…. who cares. Let it shake and roll!
9. Port-a-pottie and body functions…beer helps.
10. Head lamp…must acquire.
11. Coffee….Instant is still coffee and when the neighbors make it for you rather than walking a half mile for it, it’s better than Starbucks.
12. Earplugs or … how long I can survive without sleep?
13. Mud doesn’t hurt you, everybody smells bad after three days, and by then…you’re family or in love.
14. Those rubber garden clogs that you just threw in the car at the last minute? Priceless.
15. Prepare for weather ranging from snow to jungle heat all in one day…sometimes within the hour.
16. Sleeping while camping alone takes practice…relax.
17. People come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and stages of undress…be prepared to see it all bobbling around unabashedly.
18. Hot food is gold.
19. Musicians are just people …stars are in the sky.
20. Keep in mind one principle: “This instant is everything”

It is.

This Instant

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