I got out yesterday and pruned the apple tree suckers. Trotted out the the field with my orange can of spray paint, marking the large limbs that need to come down for the health of the trees. So much easier to visualize without the distraction of fruit and leaves. A hawk swirled over head until he was chased away by crows. (They are out there heckling him again as we speak -while he’s perched, so dignified, on a stack of firewood). I heard the burble of a chickadee in the pear trees but couldn’t for the life of me see him. Does it feel differently now that we’re the official owners of this place? Sometimes. I walked down the stairs the day after the closing and history felt heavier beneath my feet. But I forgot to even pay minor respect by glancing at the ever-present photos of my ancestors looming on the wall before we left for the lawyer’s office. Some things have become too normalized.
While 2016 felt like an unproductive year, I know it’s not true. I look back at how much work we’ve done and I’m proud. Most people won’t see its results until this year, or even the year after, but we’ve been building important foundations. Some of our work had to be re-prioritized, the consequence of compromise. Some of the things I’d wished would be finished by now are yet to be done. Others I’d put on the back burner have been crossed off the list. Finished. Sometimes life re-prioritizes projects for you -like our new album which butted its way up in line and insist it come before another that has been waiting so patiently for a year. But creativity has a life of its own and if you refuse to listen to it, it has a way of sabotaging itself. You must have faith in the creation and allow it to steer the ship sometimes. We have killed many a song by trying to control it.
For years we kept talking about touring again, but finally Eric just started saying it outloud to people as if it were a real plan with an itinerary. And then people started asking about it. And then, in order not to feel foolish, we decided we ought to actually look into it. Before we knew it we’d mapped out a route and had a general sense of how long it would take us to get there. We researched bands and venues. We sent emails. (We are still sending emails). It’s been only just a month since we started planning in earnest, but we have six confirmed shows. We embark on our three week tour in a little over than a month. It wouldn’t be fair to say the tour planned itself, but it feels more like we facilitated it than orchestrated it. This is the feeling when you let things be what they will and not what you think they should be. It’s not always easy for me to do, though I’ve learned so much about letting go from the farm, the weather, and the hardest learned lessons of life itself.
We will hop in a car together again, for the first time (extendedly) since we traveled the South Island of New Zealand some ten years ago. We’re calling it our tourcation, with shows only planned on the best nights -avoiding Sunday thru Wednesday and leaving those open for driving and sleeping and as much exploring as our tight schedule will allow. I am thrilled at the thought of seeing places like Sedona and Joshua Tree, even if it means (due to spring planting and just pure fear from being away for so long) that we will only get to spend one night in each place. But this is what tour IS. It is more time spent traveling than sitting still. It is getting to know places because of their rest stops and their dive bars. It is understanding a culture because of its music.
One of the things I always liked best about touring was being shaken out of the notion that this country is a divided and uncompromising place. When you tour you meet people of all stripes. Presumably liberal musicians and openly conservative Southern diner waitresses. But almost everyone is pleasant, and even most are friendly. We have six bands -complete strangers- who have been willing to help us set up shows in their hometowns. Who no doubt will offer to host us on their floors or couches when we arrive. In this uneasy transition our country faces, going out on an adventure to actually see it face to face is what excites me most of all.