Sand in my shoes

I did say it would be a while – but at last, we’re at the end of our official summer wedding extravaganza. After four gigs in three days, there was bound to be at least one worth writing about. In fact, there was one that had all three of us doubled over laughing.

The other three gigs went relatively as planned: On Thursday night, a little half-hour concert of medieval music with Hurly Burly for a Trent-sponsored historical conference, in a local art gallery. Then the next day, a wedding out at a resort we play at regularly, which despite the usual gusting wind, the roar of motor boats and airplanes, and the faint aroma of septic system, was just fine (although our cello player did get pelted by falling acorns a couple of times).

As soon as that one wrapped up, we high-tailed it out of there to our next gig, about an hour drive away. So far so good. Our flute player had scoped out the route, and it was her turn to drive (we each took a turn, which made things much easier), and we made the journey in plenty of time. Our flute player had warned us a bit in advance, but it was still a bit of a shock. We arrive to see what looks an awful lot like a refurbished old ski resort building, with a large parking lot and a big artificial pond. On the far side of the pond is a huge tract of absolutely empty sand – presumably, meant to be a beach. At this point we are surrounded by lovely Ontario countryside, the trees sporting their early fall colours, drumlins and still-verdant hills, forest and farmland stretching around us. At the site itself, there are plenty of big squares of lawn. And where are all the little white chairs set up? You guessed it – on the big strech of sand. They were thoughtful enough to put up a little awning-style tent; which turned out to be a good thing, since for the first half hour or so the sky spit little drops of rain at us and threatened worse.

(Disclaimer alert: In case anyone involved in this affair ever reads this (fat chance!), please be assured that it’s not meant as an affront to the mostly really quite nice people we work for; just sometimes the circumstances can be a bit, shall we say, more interesting than we were planning on.)

Have you ever watched people walk in stilletto heels in the sand? Would have been funny, but we were too busy trying to read our music as it gradually got darker and darker. They had a few torches flickering away, but that didn’t help us much. I had a stand light, but had accidentally left my glasses in the car (now parked way back in the lot); which put me about on par with my partners, who had glasses but no lights.

At one point, before the guests arrived, the three of us just looked around at the scene and started to laugh. We laughed until we had tears in our eyes and were for a moment, completely speechless.

Did I mention that the lady acting as officiant’s eye shadow matched the colour of the bridesmaids dresses? A kind of sea-blue. Just that it was memorable, is all.

And all the women in the bridal party were sleeveless, a pretty much unbroken trend for most of our eight-year wedding-playing career that baffles me to no end. No matter how classy the wedding, how sensible-seeming the couple, how practical they may be in every other respect, all those poor women are always sleeve (and often back) free. It’s September in Ontario, people! Has anyone ever heard of say, a shawl? How about longer dresses? Or sleeves, perhaps? Either the wedding garment industry is manifestly misogynistic (the guys always have suits, which works in the fall – although in mid-July it’s not so nice, so maybe the wedding industry is just generally sadistic) – or the vast majority of people involved in weddings immediately lose a few dozen IQ points the instant they walk into a bridal shop. Probably both, come to think of it.

We ended up with sand everywhere – cases, shoes, on binders and bags, encrusting the hem of my skirt. A very good argument for the habit some smart harpists have of always carrying a small mat or square of carpet around with them. I think next year, I will give that a try. At least this summer I’ve been very good about bringing my own chair, and my little pignose amp, and lots of snacks and water. Our cello player also sensibly brings a cushion to sit on, another habit I should pick up. Soon, we will be like a travelling theatre troupe, complete with enough gear to camp out for a week with.

And the last gig, today? All went well, despite some anxiety that it might not be so (the stand light came in very handy yet again, seeing how we were crammed into a dark corner in a small chapel). And for the most part, lest I seem too disparaging, our clients were pretty easy to deal with. Still, I’m really glad the season is over, and I can’t say I’m waiting with baited breath ’til next summer (despite having a really solid little trio that does of course sound lovely), but when it comes, we’ll at least have had a good long break. Soon it’ll be time to get ready for all the seasonal concerts in December. And after practicing Christmas tunes for two months, I may almost wistfully look forward to Pachelbel’s Canon… okay, well maybe not so much.