Foggy, overcast Monday morning.
The long-planned-for weekend is twelve hours behind us.
The delightful guests of the weekend have left for home. We don’t see them often enough, and parting is always softly sad.
We ate well, laughed a lot, sang a lot. We celebrated a birthday with cake.
The musical H and her schoolmates have been preparing for all semester is over.
She lost her voice after the first show, but went on in spite of that, mouthing the words, playing her part, happy to be there and sad to be silent on a stage full of song.
The lead roles were mostly filled by seniors who are right now making their plans to leave this rural nest.
We’re not their parents, but on closing night we still felt a tinge of that bittersweet tug, knowing we were seeing the last of something. In four years, that will be H, singing her last song on that stage, and then, of course, we will be puddles.
We had a wonderful weekend. Monday marches on.
And this song seems kind of perfect today.
Rebecca: What should I write today?
Hyla: Write an ode to the fire.
R: That’s a good idea. What defines an “ode”?
H: I can show you one I wrote about Oyster.
R: Please do.
. . .
R: Oh, I like this! Can we post this today instead of something I write?
Ode To A Cat
surveys his jungle-kingdom
and draws the curtain of
his private war chamber.
Sitting on the velvet cushion,
surrounded by his family, loyal courtiers,
the mighty cat sends out orders
to move this regiment here,
to send a gift to this nation.
Going through his daily routine,
he feels weary.
And one evening,
he meows to his faithful page, Hudson;
“I am hungry,”
the powerful rumble
of his voice fills the room.
His page offers;
“Anything, King Oyster.
I will go to the market
and buy it for you.”
The royal cat
shakes his head,
and his long white whiskers shine.
He wants to go to the market himself.
as the king wished,
they go to the market,
the wind rips at their faces,
tearing up the feathery snow and dusting it
over their faces.
At the market,
the people stare and whisper:
And Oyster laughs;
leaping up to play with the kittens,
giving hard-earned rewards to their parents
They pass large wealthy buildings,
bursting with delicious food,
and Hudson suggests them all.
The king shakes his head and walks on.
At the end of the path,
they come to a bleak hovel,
in which a wife cooks what she has.
The king orders the page to buy good milk,
cheese and meat, and to
bring them to him. Meanwhile,
he slips into the small house.
The wife does not recognize him,
and offers him some soup.
The king thanks her and laps it up slowly.
Hudson knocks at the door,
and Oyster opens it.
The kind cat and her family
revel in the delicious gifts
and thank the king
The king and page buy a cheese
and go home.
He enters his palace again
and curls up by the crackling fire
my father stokes.
Sometimes, in the middle of all the world going haywire, you just have to sit back and giggle, and thank the stars that you have this girl, this silly, wonderful, heartful, kind, smart, gorgeous girl who knows how to make herself into an ear of corn, who knows how to hug you so tight your ribs nearly crack, who knows how to love you to the moon and back, more than more, more than most, more than toast.
Fun fact #1: I still cannot write the word “Friend” without singing this song to myself.
Fun fact #2: In the late 60s/early 70s, my father worked for the public television station WQED, where he was Production Manager and Lighting Director for Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood (among other shows). That porch swing? I sat on it. Those fish? I fed them. I rang the bell at Lady Elaine Fairchild’s museum, swung the pendulum on Daniel Stripèd Tiger’s grandmother clock. I snuck behind the tree where X the Owl and Henrietta Pussycat lived. And, like most of the other kids watching the show, when Mister Rogers sang, “You are Special,” I truly believed he was singing it right to me.
My Heart Leaps Up
My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!
The Child is father of the Man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.
It’s a blast.
It’s a satirical musical.
It’s about politics, greedy corporations, and needy masses. It’s about the 99% and the 1%. It’s about sustainability and controlling scarce resources.
It’s very dark.
It’s very funny.
It’s got great dances and catchy songs, sideways glances and evil doings.
It’s a lot of work.
It’s 40+ students, from seventh graders to high school seniors.
It’s musicians, technical folk, stage hands, teachers, and community members.
It’s rehearsals every school day for nearly five months , plus some weekends and evenings.
It makes you cry, and laugh.
It’s very worth sitting through three showings in a row.
If it’s your first speaking and singing role in a full-length musical, I’d venture to guess it’s unforgettable.
Note: This video is not from the Thetford Academy production, but is a great performance of one of our favorite songs in the show.
If you have the time and interest, you can see about 1400 photos taken on opening night by Dan Grossman, Thetford resident and photographer, here.