Author: Karsemeyer, John


Ol’ Samuel Mosey had been going to the Grass Valley Fathers Day Festivals in June ever since they began over thirty years ago in the 1970’s. When he attended his first festival he peered down into the small lake and saw his reflection that mirrored his coal black hair, and no mileage lines on his face. That was then, but this is, well you know.
At last year’s 2011 festival he again went over to the lake to watch some of the kids fish, but he avoided any reflective activity. It was now his everyday habit of avoiding mirrors altogether, whether they be glass, bodies of water, or anything that created his image.
Sam now walked with a little hitch in his step, but walked he did, and enjoyed it most of the time. Throughout the years at these Grass Valley festivals his walks made him well acquainted with every square inch of the festival grounds. He had favorite camp sites, but he varied them every year to give what was left of his brain a novel experience. However, sometimes he felt that he was getting to the point that he could camp in the same spot every year and his brain would think it was a new site. But his self awareness let him know that this was not yet quite true, or so he hoped.

One of his favorite places to camp was at the highest point of the fairgrounds, where he was permitted to set up a tent, his home away from home, for a week. Sam thought of this spot as a kind of mountain, even though it didn’t officially meet the criteria. Since he often fantasized about being in a bluegrass band on the main stage of the festival, he went ahead and permuted his fantasy to having his own personal mountain on which to camp. He even gave it a name.

Sam’s permanent home was located in a small California valley, which was inhabited by a plethora of flora and fauna. It wasn’t the fauna that was a problem for him, but it was the flora. The many species of trees, plants, flowers, weeds, and grass all contributed to his allergic condition, which contributed to problems with his nasal passages and other cavities in his head (teeth excluded), which contributed to his leaving the valley every chance he got so as to avoid his aforementioned condition, which contributed to why he ended up in Grass Valley every June to partake in one of the best bluegrass festivals in the world. Even though Grass Valley was also a valley, his allergies were not a problem there.

Simply put, he could breathe freely, and his nose didn’t run. Even better, when he was on what he considered his own personal mountain during the festival, his non allergenic condition was optimized. Something to do with, Sam thought, the way the breeze circled in and out of that small area to provide clean, pristine air.
That’s why Sam called his tree bound pinnacle, “Mount Sinus.” No sinus condition of any negative nature. Not even a hint.
Although it was the second year in a row he had done this, last year he again pitched his dome tent at the highest point of Bluegrass City (Sam’s other name for the suddenly rising, week long temporary dwellings of musically-like-minded human inhabitants). A little after midnight Sam was walking through the pine trees that seemed to reach for the full moon, when he saw a ghost-like figure in the mist that took the shape of a man wearing a suit and tie, Stetson hat, and holding something that resembled a mandolin. The face sported long, grey side burns and a look of determination that Sam had never before witnessed.
This apparition left Sam speechless, and as he turned around to run he heard a voice say, “Wait!” Sam suddenly stopped, and as he did the figure held out a stretched arm with the hand clutching a large, blue rock in the shape of a mandolin that seemed to glow in the dark. And then the voice commanded, “Here, take this.”
The rock was two and a half feet long , nine inches wide, and about two inches thick, but as soon as Sam grasped it with both of his hands he couldn’t help but notice that it was very light. Before he could say anything or ask any questions, the figure immediately vanished into the darkness. In a bewildered daze, Sam stumbled back to his tent, went inside, took three liquid shots of “J.D.” and dropped into a restless slumber.
At first light Sam abruptly awoke, bolt upright, in his sleeping bag, and yelled, “Boy howdy, did I have a whopper of a dream that time!” Sleepy eyed, he hurriedly went to unzip his tent and head for a fresh cup of coffee. But the immediacy of his planned flight to the outside of the tent was blocked by a visually blurred, blue, sculptured rock in the shape of a mandolin.
As Sam’s eyes came more into focus he saw that there was writing on the surface of the mandolin-like rock. At the top, in bold, capital letters, it read, “THE TEN SUGGESTIONS.” Beneath those three words, the suggestions began to unfold, directly in front of Sam.

1. Do not worship any other forms of music other than bluegrass.
2. Do not idle your time away; practice, practice, play, and play bluegrass music. And then play some more.
3. Do not misuse the name of bluegrass music by calling it what it is not.
4. Remember the Sabbath Day by playing bluegrass gospel music.
5. Honor the Father of Bluegrass (Bill Monroe), and the Queen of Bluegrass (Rhonda Vincent).
6. Do not “murder” bluegrass music by playing minor-flatted seventh-added 9th chords when major chords should be played.
7. Do not adulterate bluegrass music by using bluegrass instruments to play music by Metallica, Kiss, Lady Gaga, or Lawrence Welk.
8. Do not steal bluegrass instruments while at bluegrass festivals. In fact, do not steal them at all. Exceptions include, but are not limited to electric guitars, drums, synthesizers, or any musical instrument dependent up the invention of Thomas Edison.
9. Do not testify falsely against your neighbor’s dog at the 2012 Fathers Day Festival at Grass Valley (e.g. “That dog barks all day and all night long).
10. Do not covet any person’s one of a kind, fantastic sounding and playing musical instrument. Save your money, buy your own, and be happy with what you’ve got.
Sam knew he had something special and unique in the form of this rock sculpture. At first he thought about taking it home and mounting it somewhere highly visible. But then it struck him that it should be shared. Should he put it in a museum? No, he thought. And then it came to him.
He decided to leave it on the highest point of the campgrounds at the fairgrounds in Grass Valley, a monument to bluegrass music, California style. But wait a second, what about destruction by vandals, defacement, or out and out theft by thieves?
Deciding he would to take a chance, Sam carefully and cunningly placed the Ten Suggestions where it would not be obtrusive. In fact he found a place where it blended in so well that he couldn’t even see it from five feet away. In his bones he just knew that it would be okay, and he looked forward to seeing it and camping by it in June of 2012.
His fervent hope was that other bluegrass aficionados would discover it, admire it for what it was, and then leave it and go on their way, telling others so that they might share in its suggestive nature.
And now, in June, when the shadow of a hundred year old mandolin player slips across a midnight moon that is full, the ghosts of the Grass Valley miners come out to dance among the tall pines on the highest point of the fairgrounds, joining hands in a full circle, shuffling to an old familiar tune, “Jenny Lynn.”

Posted:  5/12/2012

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