Author: Cornish, Rick

Our New Board Chairman

Last Sunday morning we had installed eleven new leaders of our California Bluegrass Association. I know all eleven very well and I believe they’re a good bunch; each one of them, I’m convinced, has the brains and the commitment and the wherewithal to lead our bluegrass family through whatever may come, and what I predict will come is a period of growth and stability and a more richly diverse membership. For the past few years, as I planned my departure from the leadership team, I’ve made no secret of the fact that I hoped Tim Edes would succeed me as board chair. We have several board members who, in my opinion, could do a fine job, but for me Tim has been at the top of the list. I will tell you a story that I think goes quite a ways in proving my faith in Tim Edes.

As we all know, bluegrass music brings together a disparate group of people, folks from all over the socio-political-spiritual map. How can that happen? How can you suddenly become friends with a person whose belief system is contrary to yours? Well, you can’t. What happens is this—bluegrass people don’t talk politics or religion. Over time you begin to discover that some of your new friends, while not belonging to the same political party, or the same religion, are in most other ways, and if you’re lucky, important ways, just like you. Tim was one such friend.

It was on a Saturday morning at Hollister’s Good Old Fashioned Bluegrass Festival that I had the good fortune of wandering by the camper of Tim and Sue Edes just as they were sitting down to breakfast….and the even greater fortune of being told Tim had cooked too much. (It’s always an accident when I run into Tim’s camp just as he’s about to eat; actually, it happened twice just last weekend.) Over eggs easy-over, fried potatoes and a steaming, glistening mound of bacon, we three chatted for maybe ten minutes before the rabbit incident came up. Sometimes it takes longer, sometimes even less time, but sooner or later, we re-tell the rabbit story; it helps a little if someone who’s never heard the rabbit story before is there, but that’s not a requirement.

The story begins on a cold and stormy night, the wind is howling and I’m walking through sheets of rain in a grassy parking area at the Yolo County Fairgrounds looking for Tim’s rig. It’s the CBA’s annual Veterans Day Festival, fourth and final, (it only took us four years to figure out that late November was not a great time for an event that included camping). There are a couple of dozen or so campers in the field, it’s pitch black, not a trace of moon, and I’m just about to give up looking when I spot Tim’s pick-up and cab-over camper. I rap on the door, it opens and I come in out of the cold and rain. I’m cold but thankfully dry. Tim pours me a glass of wine.

I didn’t know Sue very well at all at the time, but she and I hit it off right from the start. Tim and his wife and I talked for close to an hour in the warmth of the camper, gusts of wind occasionally shaking it on its wheels, fierce rain pounding the roof like so many machine gun rounds. Finally I pulled on my heavy down coat, thanked the Edes for their hospitality, opened the door and then quickly slammed it shut.

“My God,” I said, “there’s a rabbit out there.”

Tim thought it was a joke. “Oh, so you’re afraid of rabbits in the dark now…..put that in your candidate’s statement next year for the CBA board election. Rick Cornish —INTEGRITY…. LEADERSHIP….And did we mention a furry animal phobia?”

“No, really man, there’s a rabbit out there on the ground and it’s alive but hurt. It’s moving. And I can see red. I’m sure it’s blood.”

“Let me see,” Sue said squeezing by me and opening the camper door. She slammed it shut too.

“He’s right, honey. There’s a little rabbit out there and it’s hurt and bleeding. You’ve got to do something.”

Tim looked at me impatiently, and then at Sue.

“So what do you want me to do, Sue, give it mouth to mouth?”

“Get out there Tim,” I chimed in with a chuckle, “and save that little critter’s life. And wash up before coming back in. Could have rabies.” Sue glanced at me and wasn’t smiling. So much for our blossoming new friendship.

“Tim, seriously, you’ve got to go out there and put that poor little animal out of its misery. Just shoot it.”

Tim looked at his wife pleadingly. “Honey, I didn’t bring a gun, what am I gonna kill it with?” There were a few moments of silence. The wind howled outside…the lights in the camper flickered, but just for an instant.

“Well,” I said after a long moment, “I noticed a shovel leaning against the camper. Couldn’t you just, ah, you know, whack it?”

“Couldn’t YOU just whack it?” Tim snapped back. An even longer silence followed. Maybe two friendships in jeopardy.

“I don’t…..ah…..or I haven’t…..ah…..killed…..ah…..things. I mean, living things. Well, insects, of course, and a bird with a bee-bee gun once, but that was on accident. It was a horrible experience. But never anything with fur… know… a mammal.” They just stared at me, I think in disbelief. Tim was a life-long hunter, an honest-to-God outdoorsman, and Sue was married to one.

The wind wailed outside and the camper shook. For a moment I thought I could hear the rabbit moan. (Do rabbits moan?)

Sue finally broke the silence. “For God’s sake, honey, just go out and whack the bunny.”

“Yes, Tim, whack the rabbit,” I chimed in.

“I don’t WANT to whack the rabbit. I’m a hunter. I shoot things. I don’t beat them to death with a damned shovel…Are you even sure there’s a rabbit out there?” Now Tim looked out the door.

“Daaaaaamn,” he droned, closing the door and looking for his boots. “Daaaaaamn!”

Pulling his yellow slicker on, Tim made one more protest. “I really don’t get why it has to be me,” he said, even though he was now clearly resigned to handling the ‘situation’.

Tim sighed, stepped out of the camper and closed the door behind him. I was relieved he’d closed the door, and I was pretty sure Sue was too. Neither one of us wanted to watch. Once Tim was gone, Sue looked at me. “Well,” she said, “you know, people fall into one of two groups—hunters or gatherers. You and I are gatherers, and Tim, he’s a hunter.”

“I’m definitely a gatherer,” I nodded.

Moments passed in silence. In less than a minute Tim returned holding an empty white plastic bag. “SaveMart” was written on it in brilliant red.

“Here’s your bunny,” Tim sneered.

Okay, there are variations on the story depending on who tells it. But the facts are the facts. If this story doesn’t give you faith in your new chairman of the board, nothing will.

Posted:  10/24/2012

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