Yesterday I was judging at one of the State level festivals. I woke at 5:15, showered, and hit the highway across central Wisconsin by six. With a 16-oz. hazelnut in my cup holder and a granola bar in my hand, I watched the road and the land of this beautiful home state of mine. The grasses were greener than green, a light wind was stirring the trees, and the small lakes and marshes looked peaceful as could be. I shared the road mainly with pick-up trucks pulling boat trailers to their favorite fishing holes.
Traffic and excitement picked up as I entered the college town that was my destination and joined the school buses full of kids and instrument cases converging on campus. This excitement, this positive energy, has become one of my favorite parts of any festival. These teenagers are the best of the best: the students who earned a starred rating at their district festival. They take pleasure in performing and listening to others all day. The mood, the crowd, the pure momentum spread like the Wave at Lambeau Field. (Sorry for the sports metaphor. It is Wisconsin, after all.)
The feelings and passions of the day lasted longer than any specific performance. The chats with students after they sang, the teachers who asked how my day is going, the parents who expressed their thanks for my spending a Saturday with their children. The enthusiastic teacher who, too hyped to sit and wait any longer, asked if she could play the piano in the room for a few minutes, then treated us to a fabulous medley of classic Gershwin tunes.
These are the pieces that accompanied me on the road home. I drove in relative quiet, no radio, and hummed a few of what we call "24 Italian hits" and the other vocal standards as I joined the buses and pick-up trucks returning to their own homes.
Then I collapsed on the LoveSac rocker with Amigo and watched the Hot Dog beat the Chorizo in the sausage race followed by the Brewers beating the Pirates. Simple pleasures, indeed. Stumble It!