Author: Zuniga, Nancy

Letting Go

“Run to the rock and hide your face;
The rock cried out “No hiding place!”

One of the few advantages I've found to living in the country is that I can step outside my door in the morning, before I've had a chance to comb my hair and put on my face, with no worries that any of my neighbors will see me before I make myself presentable to the world. Even when I lived in more a more populous area, this wasn't really much of a problem. I could venture outdoors in my bathrobe and slippers to retrieve my newspaper or haul the trashcan to the curb without anyone remarking on my less-than-remarkable activities. I've noticed, however, that personal space flies out the window at bluegrass festivals.

It's morning, and I'm heading to the campground showers, looking like something the cat dragged in after a late night of picking. I'm hoping against hope that I reach my destination before anyone embarrasses me by acknowledging my existence, but this seldom happens. Inevitably, someone will call out a remark along the lines of, “Looks like you're on a mission!”, “She's headed to the showers,” or “Did you do a lot of picking last night?” Please, earth...just swallow me now. Looking somewhat more human on my return trip, I'm the recipient of more comments along the lines of “Looks like you got your shower,” “Do you feel better now?” and “You clean up pretty good!”

Stating the obvious seems to be a favorite pastime at bluegrass festivals. I have yet to walk toward the audience area carrying a folding chair without at least one person feeling compelled to share their observation, “You're going to go listen to some music.” Umm…What was the tipoff?

Food is another category. I don't remember anyone ever commenting on my purchases from fast-food restaurants or an ice cream shop out in the real world, but you won't escape without comments if you buy food from a festival vendor, particularly if your snack is of the decadent variety like a Lazy Dog ice cream bar. Onlookers' observations will cover the gamut of sentence types that we learned about in elementary school: statement (“You just had to get one.”), question: (“Don't you know that's not good for you?”) and exclamation: (“Hey! Let me have a bite!”)

I've wondered what it is that causes folks at festivals to feel called upon to make comments about the most mundane activities of other festival-goers, and to proffer remarks about activities that would never be worthy of notice in their home communities. I've decided that it must be the sense of community that turns every festival campground into Mayberry-on-wheels. Bluegrass festivals offer a sense of a small-town community and camaraderie that most of us don't enjoy in our home neighborhoods, regardless of where we live. There are no strangers, and everyone's business somehow becomes everyone else's business for those few days. I'm not really complaining (even if it sounds as though I am). The same dynamic that causes our bluegrass neighbors to remark on one another's food choices and trips to the restroom also causes bluegrass friends to care deeply about each another. This prevailing attitude became obvious when my husband Henry recently made his cancer diagnosis public on the CBA Message Board. The outpouring of concern made it evident that we do share a true sense of community...a virtual Mayberry. In fact, there are no strangers in our bluegrass world. There's no hiding place either...but when you look at the big picture, that's not really such a bad thing.

Posted:  2/21/2014

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