Monday, May 21, 2012

Sing, Baby, Sing

Do enough stuff and someone will call you on it.

With no more of a plan than to hear live music on the lawn of a plantation by the river, we packed a goody bag and headed to Hopewell.

That may be the only time I've been able to say that.

Fredericksburg's World Jam Club was playing at Weston Plantation on the Appomattox river.

Stately trees, a fine-looking 1789 house and a long fishing pier out onto the river looked to be a bucolic spot for listening to music al fresco.

Our outdoor intentions were dashed when we arrived to find that the changeable weather had moved the performance into the "winter kitchen" of the old house.

For the infrequent plantation visitors, that means the basement, a tiny place that was never going to comfortably hold the attendees.

An older couple walked up with chairs and we told them about the switch.

"Oh, no," the kindred soul said. "I wanted it to be outside!" Didn't we all?

Switch to Plan B.

We strolled down the bank, part timbers set into hill and part steep wooden stairs, and stopped midway down where we were chased down by a videographer for the Hopewell Tourism Board who wanted to interview us about why we were there.

My companion tends to be fairly taciturn and most of his answers involved pointing at me as the source of his trip to Hopewell.

I, on the other hand, was more than happy to wax poetic about why I'd chosen a plantation lawn for Sunday afternoon music.

I fly my geek flag proudly.

Don't get me started on the intersection of culture, history and picnicking with a microphone clipped to my dress.

Press duties done, we finished our descent to the middle of the pier.

With our backs to a good breeze, we admired the stormy sky and began by pulling out cherries to eat as we watched huge gray clouds roll by.

Our idyll was interrupted when a snake swam up, stopped just in front of our dangling feet and looked us straight in the eye.

I do bugs, but I don't do snakes. There was a position adjustment on my part as fish jumped all around us.

Two minutes later a couple comes down to the pier and asks, "Seen any critters?"

Jarringly, yes.

Eventually we went back up the hill and spread ourselves out on a pink spread under a huge, old tree, mere yards from the open door that led to the "winter kitchen."

Under a tree with music wafting our way, we sipped vinho verde, ate fruit and cheese and admired this fine old house by the river.

Soon another couple broke bad and put their chairs under a nearby tree, cracking beers as they listened.

And then another, right by the stairs to the basement.

We'd been involuntary trendsetters.

By the time the concert was winding down, we began to feel rain and packed up, completely unprepared to find out how hard it was already raining outside the protection of the tree.

The further north we went on 95, the more the rain began to taper off.

Dinner followed at Cellar Door where all our choices came off the specials menu.

Twenty four-hour marinated Peruvian chicken drumsticks packed heat and meat and the arugula underneath took its creaminess from the Peruvian ranch dressing.

A spinach salad with blue cheese, white wine poached pear, red onion, tomato, cucumber, and chunks of salt-and-pepper chicken was satisfying and flavorful enough to have been a main dish for any one person.

The braised short ribs were a bit dry but much better with onions, butter-poached red apples and pears in every bite.

Our server had on a  bike polo t-shirt, leading to me asking and discovering my seven two degrees of separation from him.

It never ceases to amaze me just how small this town is. Small good, of course.

Final stop was the Westhampton Theater for "Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (for the Elderly and Beautiful)," full of superb English acting, colorful India locations and humor about aging.

"I can't think that far ahead. I don't buy green bananas."

The story of Brits who go to stay in an Indian hotel that's falling apart was charming, funny and understated.

"Everything will be alright in the end and if it's not alright, then, trust me, it's not the end."

Sex was enthusiastically pursued. Long time loves were rediscovered. Expectations were not met and then exceeded.

"Nothing here has worked out quite as expected."
"Most things don't. But sometimes what happens instead is the good stuff."

The film captured India's unique light, energy, masses of people and colorful beauty as each of the guests explored it differently.

By the charming end of the film, no less than three couples had acknowledged their emotional attachment to their beloved.

Just like a tidy Shakespearean comedy ending, true love triumphs.

Except, in this case, they were on motorbikes in India.

"When one does adapt, the past withdraws."

And they live happily ever after on a pink spread under a tree...assuming the snake doesn't return.

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