Every year that I return to Strawberry (strawberrymusic.org), I’m reminded of what it means to be Home. It truly was my first festival, my camp is made up of family and extended family. The sense of excitement and nervousness that keeps me up the entire night before is always coupled with a growing sense of calm as I get deeper into the Yosemite valley. This year, there was one moment that stood out explicitly as the wind that whispers “Home.”
I left Los Angeles after work on Thursday, knowing full well that many festival goers had already bested me with one extra day of setting up camp, relaxing by Birch Lake and warming up their pickin hands. As I wound up through Fresno, and then Merced, and finally through G Street to Highway 120, I noticed an eerie calm. For nearly three hours of the last leg of my drive, I saw not one other car on the road. Led Zeppelin ablast, windows open and my eyes wide with anticipation, that quiet drive was exactly what I needed in the moment.
The gate staff was still up when I arrived around 1:30 in the AM. I maneuvered my car carefully towards Heathen Hill through those evergreens and already-sauced Strawberrians. When I couldn’t find a parking spot in the dark, I blocked off the Hill and walked up, to find the Thompsons awake. After a few shared welcoming and self-congratulatory swills and smiles, we looked up to appreciate a moon unlike I’ve ever experienced in my 10 years at Strawberry. It truly was a once in a blue moon moment, as that clear sky shimmered and shook under its immense light. Clouds illuminated, third eye activated. I was immediately reminded of a moment years ago seeing Sam Bush perform under that very same sky. I started to mutter a few lyrics and found Tequila Ted joining in. Then his girls, until we were all singing:
Take a little time for sunshine
Take a whole lotta time for love
Take time for praising things
Heaven up above
Take your life as it may come,
cause boy it’ll be gone soon.
Take a little time for Howlin’ at the Moon