A few paragraphs from October 13th and now it’s November 12!  It was almost a month ago since I sat down to try to describe all this – and even then I only got as far as two paragraphs….

I woke up scared.  Eyelids fluttered like window shades up and down as thoughts of this trip ran back and forth between the memory of looking at the map at the kitchen table back home and this ribbon of road we were following up and down to the cadence of an automated British accent from the GPS on the dashboard who says which way to turn, sometimes just in time, sometimes not at all.  She seems to have a speech impediment and is starting to show signs she’s moody.  “Her” name is Serena.

Shades of Serena’s unwitting emphasis on the wrong syllables as she directs our turns ahead sends us laughing as we imitate her gargling the last syllable , turning “boulevard” into gutteral bits, spitting from the garbage disposal “boul – e – vaaaaarrgh! that would send us again into hysterics.

Vapor trails of people from the tail end of sleep.  Heliotrope flips from snap dreaming to awakening.  Consciousness becomes the room we’ve been waking in for the past 12 days.  Snug in the couchbed, Steve’s head is countersunk like an egg in carton tucked in the oak corner on the open bed with the personality of a couch, perched between the stove and the side wall.  The driver’s side.  His back follows the van, his footprint beneath the windows that surround the midline covered from view by lined natural linen curtains.

Now it the 43rd day and we’re in Punta Gorda, Florida.

We’ve been through Boston, New York, Baltimore, Washington DC and headed south for Florida.  After a wonderful concert for the Greater Washington DC folk society in Andy & Sondra Wallace’s historic home in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, we blasted into the rainy night for Jacksonville.

It was a long drive this morning from West Palm Beach.  Thunderheads lined the sky all day, deepening the blue contrast between light and dark. We are with my parents.  We will be here for a few days.  It’s been a coupe of years since our last time together.  We are all a little older and it’s so good to see each other we are just taking each other in, hello.  It is a time to savor.

Then it will be a mad dash for the west coast.  We need to be in Carlsbad, California by a week from Monday at 7 o’clock.   Then it’s Thanksgiving at Mary’s in Los Osos on the Central California Coast and a few days off the road.

Today is Thursday.  We’re in the southern gulf coast of Florida.

Dad gets his favorite guitar, the one that’s leaning on the kitchen table, and picks it up with a “What do you say, how about a song?”

Steve gets his.  I pull out the banjo.  It’s a beautiful thing.  “When I was falling like a leaf from the tree…” sings out from between the strings.  Harmony.  It’s right it should be, this song.  I wrote it for him after all.  “Ole Dad”.  He grins with a smile that takes up his whole face.

Dad’s got a songs he learned from his Happy Traum’s Homespun DVD.  He loves Happy Traum and says, “I feel like I know him from his tapes” and the song is sweet.  He’s been learning guitar bits from Happy’s instructional videos for years now.  Soft, not too loud.  Just loud enough to hear it.   It’s a version of “I’ll Fly Away” in G with a dropped D.  It’s got the Happy trademark arrangement and sound that makes it his.  He picks the tune sweet and naturally, no tension as though fingertips must have been made to tickle sweet melodies out of the guitar strings waiting to be plucked.  It’s a fine thing.

Many miles ahead of us.  Today it’s time to be with my parents and take in the life they have here.  We’ll give a uke workshop here tomorrow and a concert in the evening.  Then it’s 2641 miles from here to Carlsbad, California by November 23.  One foot in front of the other.  One song at a time.Day