We just got home from one of the sweetest events I've been to in a long time -- a surprise 70th birthday party for an old friend.
This friend is part of the large extended family of folk musicians and dancers that we have fallen in with since we moved to town years ago. For this occasion, our family became even more extended, with folks driving in from hundreds of miles away.
Our local folk community reminds me a bit of Eureka, the TV series about a mythical town in the Pacific Northwest where everyone is a scientific super-brainiac. In our community, however, the norm is that practically everyone you know plays several musical instruments, sings and performs music, dance or some other art.
For this kind of crowd, it long ago became a conditioned reflex to bring an instrument along to any gathering. This means that the usual tasty food and conversation are also well-mixed with great live music and dancing. Several of our gang composed original tunes and dances in honor of our pal and performed them on the spot. It was a hard choice for me between watching them perform and watching the look on his face.
However, the sweetest parts of a very sweet event were when my friend's children sang to him. This began when he walked in the door to find the place filled with friends, a 15-person live band, and his daughter singing Bei Mir Bist Du Shoen. Soon after, his son stood up and sang a touching but funny song he wrote about his long and continuing friendship with his dad. Not too many dry eyes in the house at this point.
We're back home now. Since we got back, I've been wrapping up a statistical analysis, tweaking some lectures and doing a bit of blogging.
As I write this, the sounds of my own son singing and playing his guitar are filtering up from the basement below -- a sound as beautiful as any I've heard today. It gives me high hopes for my own incipient geezerhood...