Author: Karsemeyer, John

Mrs. Hippie Sawyer & Tom

They were hippies. Admittedly they were. But this was then, and now is now, and as they embraced the now they weren’t sure if they were hippies or not. Tom, his wife, and three children made up the Sawyer family. The Sawyers had waited until later in their life to procreate, hence their progeny was still in the nest.

The hippie thing was a long time ago, and Tom and his wife had aged, like a fine wine. Even so, all was well, pretty much. But Mrs. Sawyer had grown hard of hearing to the point of frequently misinterpreting some of the things that Tom said to her. Tom’s hearing, however, had gone in the opposite direction, so that his hearing had grown more acute with the passing of the years. Acute to the point of being labeled as, “hypercusive,” according to the audiologist/palm reader he had consulted who lived deep in the California redwoods.

One day Tom said to his wife, “Windy, isn’t it,” to which she replied, “No it’s Thursday.” And later on, “Are there any leftovers?” “Yes, the dog’s name is Rover.” You get the picture.

The Sawyer family lived in the woods in Humboldt County, and frankly Mrs. Sawyer still liked being labeled a hippie. It wasn’t so much the label that she enjoyed, but the way of life that she and Tom had managed to preserve. Preserved like a sweet, blackberry jam from berries picked in her very own backyard. No computer, no cell phone, no television, and no paved, busy streets were some of her favorite non-amenities. It was the combination of many of the simpler things of life that she enjoyed that gave way to what she now called herself, “Mrs. Hippie Sawyer.”

Long ago the Sawyers had abandoned illegal farming. But they still related certain things to it. For example, regarding politics, one of the Sawyer’s favorite sayings was, “Grow your own dope; plant a politician.”

The kids were home-schooled, and the Sawyers had high hopes. They had heard of other children who were home-schooled, who were prodigies in various fields of occupational endeavor. Mrs. Sawyer harbored high hopes that her progeny would eventually become fiddle virtuosos, to the point of earning vast sums of income (Alison Krauss came to mind in a dream once where Mrs. H. actually saw her kids playing along side of the female musical icon, in her new band, “Alison Krauss and Hippie Station.”

The Sawyer family spent much of their time immersed in music lessons; banjo, fiddle, guitar, mandolin, and bass, the likes of which was a direct translation to the family bluegrass band that performed for weddings, wakes, foot races, tribal dances, festivals, occasional fertility rites, and pretty much wherever and whenever the opportunity to play presented itself.

The Sawyer kids always had a lot of questions. And for some reason the chore of answering these questions was left to husband Tom. He didn’t mind, if fact he relished the job. Tom was an iconoclast of sorts, and his goal was to have his kids see things from a different perspective than what they would get in a regular school setting (for example, besides the required reading of classics like “Tom Sawyer,” the kids also had to read “Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers”).

Let’s listen in on a typical night at the Sawyers with Tom and the kids.

Dad, you know we like sports, but you’ve never pushed us to do anything we don’t have an interest in. How come?

Tom: Well kids, I’ve learned that it’s harmful for parents to live out their athletic fantasies through their children.

Dad, why do you practice your musical instruments so much?

Tom: I’ve learned that my success stops when I do.

Dad, how come you never get mad when you disagree with people?

Tom: I’ve learned that if you allow people to make you angry, you have let them conquer you. And I’ve learned that my worst decisions were made when I was angry.

Dad, why did you quit smoking, and start exercising and eating right?

Tom: I’ve learned that as long as I have my health, older is better than younger.

Dad, why is it….

Tom: That’s enough questions for tonight kids. Remember that you need to get your rest so that you can do your best in the fiddle contest tomorrow.

As the children fell asleep that night their faces were full of hope, and soon their dreams would be filled with fiddle fever.

All or some of this story may or may not be true. You can ask the Sawyer family yourself, if you want to. Last I heard they are planning to attend the “Great 48” jam down in Bakersfield in January 2013….
Posted:  11/10/2012

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