Have you visited the blog for Salmon Brook Farms, home of Lavinia and Rick Ross?
They grow grapes, flowers, fruit, berries, vegetables and other produce.
They love cats.
Their Subaru, Seabisquit, has driven nearly 435, 000 miles.
They are musicians who encourage their readers to support other local musicians.
I follow their blog, primarily maintained by Lavinia, and email back and forth with her, but realized recently that I knew little about her as a musician and writer.
So I listened to her CD. Lavinia sings folk music and plays the guitar beautifully. My husband and I played it repeatedly on a drive in the countryside.
“Where did your love of music come from?” I asked Lavinia later.
I grew up hearing everything, from the Appalachian mountain and assorted older folk music that my parents enjoyed to the current folk and rock & roll from the 60s and 70s that my brothers were listening to. I would sit on the swings and sing & swing away when I was very young.
I remember when I was about 5 or 6 years old trying to mimic the sound of the trumpet in “Trumpeter’s Prayer” by making air buzz through my teeth. I can’t remember how to do that now. I simply enjoy creating, and expressing it. It is part of me.
Lavinia has performed at various events, garnering recognition along the way.
My “lifetime achievement” award came from a young child. When my first (and only, so far) CD came out, my old friend Margaret suggested that I send a copy to her friend Ruth, whom I had never met. Ruth played it for her granddaughter who remarked, “That must be God’s mother singing!”
Margaret promptly reported that comment back to me, and I was stunned. Children, especially the younger ones, are in general brutally honest. To me, this child’s comment is the most meaningful endorsement I have ever received on my music, and will be difficult for anyone to top.
Rick and Lavinia, though coming from different musical genres, have also performed together. It’s helped their working relationship on their farm in Linn County, Oregon.
I was exposed to the blues through listening to Rick, and had to learn to do a bit of that myself, as we often played for audiences who had come to hear him play blues and were not so interested in quiet folk music. I had to stretch myself.
As for the farm, like the music we have some things we work on together, but still maintain our own departments for which we are mainly responsible.There is still give and take, different points of view, and some bickering, but most importantly now, the shared vision of making our farm a beautiful, productive and peaceful place in our retirement years.
And the cats?
The cats are definitely characters in their own right, and are more like living with eccentric roommates than pets. Friends for a short time, remembered for a lifetime. Wise old souls and teachers, comforters in hard times, playful little elvish creatures who help us see the lighter side of life.
They teach us how to be better people. Their lives, and all the memories they leave behind after they depart, are all woven into the fabric of our own, becoming part of the legends and history of this place we call home.
Four years ago, their home life changed drastically. Earlier than planned, they became caregivers to Rick’s mother.
A friend who took care of her elderly mother with Parkinson’s described her own experience as “the quicksand years”, and I understand now what she meant. We rebuilt the house to accommodate Gladys, and had to move twice in one year.
Although we loved Gladys very much, the experience stretched our coping ability with her, ourselves and each other to the limit of what we were capable of handling, even with help from Hospice in the last 3 months and additional caregivers coming in to help. Physically and emotionally, it took a serious toll on my health, and I wanted little to do with anyone for some time after she died. I needed peace, quiet and downtime from responsibility, which can be difficult for friends and relatives to comprehend.
We are not the same people we were previous to caring for Gladys. We survived the experience and I think have come out the better as individuals and as partners for it.
Lavinia’s blog is beautifully written. So I ask: “I know you’re not performing at present, but are you writing?”
Although I am taking a break from performing, I am still playing music for myself, working on songs as well as working on a collection of essays, pictures drawn in words of things I remember from my life. I am finding that reconnection to earlier parts of my life an enjoyable exploration.
Writing is the thread that sews the remnants of life and soul together.
Photos from Salmon Brook Farms Website.