Hancock Brook and Waterbury Friendly’s

11 12 2017

7 December 7, 2017

It is a bit nippy today as Cherry and I head to Waterbury for our Hiking for Friendly’s trip of the month. Cherry tells me a funny story about making a wonderful meal for her sister, only to discover that her crock pot has broken and not cooked a thing! Fortunately, she and her sister managed and Cherry has discovered the defect before she tries to use the pot for several upcoming meals at some big events. They had a good laugh over it.

Waterbury hemlock brook 12.07.17As we exit the highway, I am tenuous about the directions to the Hancock Brook section of Mattatuck State Forest, and say we are supposed to walk along a gravel pit and I doubt the area will be well marked. Amazingly, we drive directly to the parking area (which is indeed at a gravel company office) and see the derelict bridge, on the National Register of Historic Places, that was mentioned in the descriptions I’d read prior to coming. And there in front of us are blue blazes! Glory hallelujah! By 9:30 AM, we are off.

We talk about Thanksgiving, as the scenery becomes more idyllic, and we parallel hemlock-lined Hancock Creek. My family, all 35, coming from as far as San Diego and Florida, gathered at my house to make a festive occasion, from which I am still putting away chairs. Cherry is awed by the fact that I have that many chairs! She too spent time with her extended family and a few adoptees at one of her sister’s home. We agree it’s a great holiday, with less stress and obligation than some of the others in December.

After about an hour, we veer from the creek to the outcrops above us. Cherry discusses some holiday-related challenges. I share that I am reclaiming my life, after 18 months being the parent of an adult daughter with a serious health issue that appears to be resolving. It is steep and we reach a series of impressive outcrops. Exposed quartz, bald knobs, and pitch pine stands add to the diversity of the site. Needles line the trail, it’s quiet, and the views are surprising.

Three and a half miles later, we find ourselves back at the gravel pit and my car. It’s noon, the sun is warm, and we agree it’s been a wonderful hike. “Not a walk,” clarifies Cherry. “Enough ups and downs to make a real hike.” We also agree that we’ve always thought each walk was a great place.

“We are just positive people,” I joke to Cherry.

“Yes, I really don’t like to spend much time with negative people,” Cherry adds, a philosophy I share, which I’m sure is why we enjoy our trips together.

It’s not far to the Friendly’s although I-84 is under construction and we have to take a short detour. Cherry and I bemoan the fact that the place is empty at 12:15; we want “our” Friendly’s to be profitable for many more years. We order; I get the Philly cheese steak and Cherry gets a hotdog (that’s a first for her). Our waitress, Wendy, seems a bit rushed and overextended as people begin to arrive.

As we order our dessert, Cherry tells Wendy about our Hiking for Friendly’s. Wendy says she’s met the original owners, the Blake brothers, at a corporate event about 15 years ago. She was one of the finalist in an ice cream scooping competition; who knew there was an art to perfecting the perfect scoop, with the proper weight, form, and speed?! Wendy glowed as she recalled the excitement and camaraderie of that event.

Waterburgy Friendlys 12.07.17When dessert arrives, I give Cherry a card for her upcoming birthday. She shrieks with laughter when she opens it to see a photo of herself tying her boot. It’s iconic; Cherry has to stop on every trip to double-tie her boots yet again. Today had been especially compelling for lace retying – we stopped at least four times, and each time, I had to keep my grin to myself, as I envisioned Cherry opening this card. It is a great way to end our meal and we share the card with our waitress, who hoots along with us.

Two more Friendly sites to go. Wow.

 

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Music from East Asia, Wesleyan University

7 12 2017

3 December 6, 2017

I had heard Asian music in Chinese restaurants. But it wasn’t until I attended a concert at Wesleyan many years ago that I realized (true confessions) that the tangy twang, minor-key sound was actually produced by unique different instruments then western instruments. This year’s Wesleyan concert included performances from three distinct Asian music classes.

11.03.17 Asian music orchestra

Director Ender Terwilliger introduced the instruments of the Chinese Music Ensemble and provided an opportunity to hear one’s sound and characteristic. For example, the number of strings on an instrument ranged from 2 to 108! The dizi (a type of flute) added an enticing, charming, and poignant sound that echoed, danced, and tied into musical patterns of the rest of the orchestra.

The Korean Drumming and Creative Music students provided less traditional music, directed by Jin Hi, Kim, who soloed on the electronic komungo (a zither; Jimi Hendrix would have felt at home with its sound).  Another soloist, Poorya Pakshir played the Iranian tonbak (a type of drum).  The inclusion of a dance, performed by Celine Tao, amidst the drummers highlighted and augmented the rhythm

11.03.17 TaikoThe first time I attended Taiko drumming, I was taken by surprise. Held in a small concert hall, 20 students stood in front of their drums and, at the appropriate time, whaled on them, to the point of startling everyone from their seats. It reminded me of sitting at the side of the parade, with bass drums vibrations cursing throughout your body, massaging and stirring each organ.

In this larger performance space, the sound fills the area but it’s slightly less dramatic. Over the years I’ve noticed that students and instructors have advanced to some really fine tuning and sophisticated drumming patterns. Director Barbara Merjan described some history and construction of the drums, which provided opportunity for additional appreciation.