Gene Wilder is gone. To be fair, we hadn’t seen hide nor hair of him in a good long while and I admit he had slipped my mind. Though every now and then I tend to gravitate towards some YouTube clip from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory or Young Frankenstein. It’s like I have this innate need to look into his sparkling eyes, into a child-like face grounded in a bottomless sense of wisdom and a devilish grin.
That frizzy, cumulus of hair always trying to lift off from his head. That perfect sense of timing. Those moments of gravitas that flip into silliness and back again. How can you not love that? How can you not need that in this world?
This is way overdue but here’s some video and pictures from the 2016 Tucson Folk Festival. For those who don’t know, the Folk Fest – as it’s usually called around here – brings folkies from all over the region. I think over two hundred acts perform over three days! I’ve been wanting to be a part of it for a while and this year it finally happened. Jamie, Mike and Brian played wonderful arrangements to these tunes – some that I’ve been playing around for many years, some are very new and two are either written by or cowritten with my dad, Tom Williams!
This video is a song that I co-wrote with Daddy when he sent me a beautiful stream-of-consciousness email about friendship and roads taken and untaken through the years – called “Across Time”
There’s a funky old children’s attraction in Tucson that was started by a nice man in the 40’s as an enchanted place for kids. He made a magic snake out of oatmeal canisters and was re-using materials way before it was trendy. I was fascinated by the story and hence this song…
I sit completely still in the humid air focusing the entirety of my attention on the swath of green in front of me. I breathe slowly, letting my muscles relax, calming the natural impulses of a young healthy person to move, fidget or jump. I stay, as beads of sweat make their slow descent, leaving shiny tracks down my bare arms.
The object of my stare is somewhere in the tall grass and it’s my job to observe its behavior, its actions. My eyes wait for movement, the inevitable sign of life. A blade twitches and I hold my breath. The slightest move on my part will give me away. The next blade of grass sways slightly. It’s on the move. A trail is making itself known, the trajectory pointing towards a patch of bare soil directly in my line of sight. I allow myself to breathe again but as slowly as possible. Seconds drip by and the edges of my being start to blend into the air around me, the soil below me. At this point in time, I am one with Everything.
Then…a tiny chartreuse head peers from its shelter – it crawls further into view on its short, spindly legs. A bright, peach-pink pouch billows from its throat, then quickly collapses. Attracting a mate or staking its territory? The Green Anole comes fully into view and I settle down even further at my spot, ready to observe what it will do next —
The silence is shattered by the bellow of my younger brother. The lizard scurries back into the wilds of our unmowed backyard lawn and he bursts through the door. “Mami says dinner time!”
I groan and unfold myself to standing. One more zoological experiment thwarted by the mundane call of “normal life.” I head towards the back door but give one last glance at the yard – a Northern Florida wonderland of fauna. I’ll be back.