I pulled into the shop driveway after almost 3 weeks away and was very strongly reminded of my summertime visits when I was younger. The deciduous trees are a lush green, the fields are full of wildflowers peeking over the tall grass, and thunderheads pass in the distance threatening an afternoon shower. It is summer here and that is the season with which I am most familiar. It is that time where things aren't as scheduled, my cousin Leah and I (and Harper) will go for hikes and runs in the evenings, and lots and lots of visitors will descend upon 388 Tucker Road.

I cherish the tranquility and the extra alone time that I spend with my dad that comes with the winter months, but summer is so beautiful and full of excitement. There is also a smell surrounding this place that I can't really explain but it just smells like home; kind of a damp, leafy outside smell that I have only experienced here. (And, well, maybe a few walks in the woods I have taken in various locations but who's counting.)

I never really accomplished very much during my summer trips to Rugby, often just reading outside or hanging out with Lauren and Leah on their trampoline in the front yard but wouldn't you know it, the days we were most bored are the days I love to remember. (Right now I am thinking about that time we bounced on their trampoline and called Granny and Katherine, and in our best English accents, offering them seamstress positions at Buckingham Palace).

Of all of our shenanigans throughout the years, my favorite summer by far was one not too long ago. I was working at Grayson Highlands State Park the summer before I left for Vermont Law School, and every day after work Lauren and Leah came over to watch a DVD of The Office. I had been getting the discs from Netflix all summer and we watched each and sent it back as quickly as possible. I will never forget the first time I watched Andy fall into the lake wearing his summo suit. My favorite episode of all time and it happened while sitting here in this room I am in right now...

Anyway, another exciting event of the summer: Leah had bought herself a second hand moped; a shining purple number that came with a glittery sticker of Peter Griffin with his two thumbs thrust skyward declaring "Freakin Sweet!". She loved that thing, driving to her summer job at Oak Hill Academy and the one mile over to my house in the evenings. She was exceptionally proud one afternoon after she filled it up with gas. "Two dollars!" she proclaimed. (Those were the days that a gallon of gas was a little more than a dollar.)

One evening during our Office screening we heard a strange noise outside. It was a repeated whooshing noise that seemed to come from across the street in the field packed with neat rows of Christmas trees. Kind of like the huffing of a bull that's about to charge a matador's red cape. The flashlight I shined into the yard didn't shed any light on the mystery. (Pun intended.) It was late though and Lauren and Leah had drive home soon. Of course Leah had driven the moped over, so we were pretty worried that some sort of rabid dog or something similar would chase after my two cousins and assail their vehicle as it buzzed into the darkness. And what about me!? Once (if) they got home they had parents to comfort them; I was then left alone with the beast! My dad was teaching at the Puget Sound Guitar Workshop at the time so he was a few miles down the road...He is a good shot but even this would have been a difficult save. I had that 3 foot long nightstick-type flashlight for protection though, I figured it would suffice. Anyway, while my cousins crept to the moped I kept the flashlight honed on them, while keeping a lookout just in case I saw any animals poised for attack. They piled onto the small seat together and started down the driveway. Nothing got them. The next morning I asked my aunt Shirleen what in the world could have made such a horrific noise and she asked, "you mean a deer? Deer make that noise..." So we were petrified by a deer and it took about 3 seconds of description for Shirleen to know exactly who the culprit was...

Another super fun memory I have of that summer was when Leah and I were having 'Fancy Dinner Night' where we dressed up in our fancy attire and I seared salmon and blanched some aspargus. The phone rang interrupting our screening of Sleepless In Seattle. A fellow sounding about my age asked if my dad was around, and I said no, he was out of town till the next day. The fellow, who called himself Kenny, said, "Well we met your dad out in Seattle at the Puget Sound Guitar Workshop and we thought he was so cool we wanted to come out and visit him. We ran out of money around Boone though. If we play some bluegrass on the street do you think we could make enough gas money to make it up to your house?" I guessed that he and his friend Josh must be pretty good musicians as they showed up the next morning as planned. After they visited with my dad and got the shop tour,  Leah and I took Kenny and Josh up to the pinnacle (my favorite spot in the park) at sunset and we had a grand time. It was one of the first times I remember meeting any of my dad's admirers who were interested in hanging out with the likes of me as well. It was pretty neat.

Even though my best buddy Lauren won't be here as much as I would like, I still have faith that this summer will be as memorable as summers passed. Leah will be here, I will be here, and guess who else? Josh and Kenny will be making their way back out this way as well, as my prediction of them being great musicians turned out to be correct. My dad asked them to play at this year's festival. I am so excited to see them again, and listen to their take on bluegrass music; traditional but steeped in their outgoing, fun personalities. My friend Dori is also playing, as is Doc Watson who, hopefully, will be debuting a new EJ Henderson guitar if I can get it done in time. This is for sure going to be a festival not to be missed so start planning your visit now!

So I am sad to leave Asheville, and that Nick's and my awesome trip to Ocean Isle had to end, but I am happy to be back in Rugby working with my dad for a while and making a guitar for a legend.