Every year I swear it’s the last, but here I am again, playing at the annual Samaritan House Secret Garden Tour. I’m stationed in Mariann Hyland’s delightful “jewel box” garden in Neskowin.
I was definitely quitting this year after I wound up on “Scenic Old 101” driving mile after mile of winding, barely paved road. As the minutes ticked by, I knew I was going to be late due to misleading signs and not having paid enough attention to the map. I was tempted to get back on the freeway, buy myself an expensive lunch at some beachside restaurant and let the flowers do without music.
It wasn’t just me. A friend wandered the same direction, and she was using a GPS. So we were both late and both never volunteering for this thing again. Eventually, nearly two hours after leaving home, we turned around, found garden tour headquarters, got directions to our respective gardens and calmed down. The weather was perfect, the flowers were blooming, plant-loving friends were having fun together, and music filled the air. Also wine, cheese, chocolate and salt water taffy.
Neskowin is located a few miles north of Lincoln City, just into Tillamook County. My garden in the Neskowin Village snuggled in the midst of several cottages with their own spectacular gardens. As I alternated between keyboard and guitars, visitors admired the custom-made glass fence panels, the downspouts shaped like fish and turtles and the glorious array of sea air-loving plants. I disrupted the array a bit with all my gear, but at least, as you can see, I dressed in the floral theme.
You might wonder about the black armband. I wasn’t mourning anything. I’ve been suffering with an elbow problem called medial epicondylitis or golfter’s elbow for over a year now. It’s a repetitive stress thing exacerbated by playing the piano. Physical therapy has made it considerably less painful, but it’s still there and probably always will be. The brace helps, but I’m thinking the braces ought to come in colors to match our clothes. I’m going to work on that.
Playing at the tour is always wonderful because I get to see so many great people, and so many people get to hear me. Also I get to play whatever I want. But there are challenges, too. The guitar-playing guy across the street, who knew every song the Beatles ever recorded, was distractingly loud. People frequently interrupted my music to ask questions like “Is this your garden?” and “What is the name of that plant?” There were cameras everywhere, some of them snapping pictures of me. This year, I saw quite a few people taking pictures with their iPads, too. But in the end, it’s a fun day, and it raises a lot of money for our local homeless shelter.
I came away with grooves in my fret fingers and a rasp in my throat, but ask me again if I’ll do the garden tour next year.