In the wee hours of Friday, May 6th, OICC departed on a chartered bus, glory bound for the north coast community of Arcata. Our first road trip came off without a logistical hitch worth mentioning (we won't talk about the bathroom snafu, oops, TMI..!). A pleasant slog of roughly 270 miles, we stopped at Cloverdale for the first of two stretch stops, then tarried a while for lunch in Garberville, a historic timber community possibly better known today as a leading repository of licensed medical marijuana retail outlets. Indeed, for some of us, the rarefied air may have awakened dormant appetites. But I digress. Arriving in Arcata at God knows what time (it was a pleasant slog), our lovely and intrepid trip coordinator, Sophie, gave us our keys and room assignments and the itinerary for the evening. And what an evening it was! We were guided on a nifty little hike in a redwood grove just above Humboldt State U. Our guide, a principle member of AIGC, described the diverse flora of the area, including the regenerative properties of redwoods that allow an age old, but dying stump, to germinate and nurture a newly born redwood to take its place in the endless cycle of life, of birth and rebirth. You can actually see the metamorphosis (in still life) of the nascent youth literally growing out of the ancient, venerated one.
Later that first night, AIGC greeted us at their home worship center, unveiling a culinary display of tasty delights that would rival the best-planned receptions. All manner of pasta salads, al dente (and otherwise), Asian fusion salads, colorful casseroles, elegantly prepared meats, including turkey and lamb, and a wonderful array of desserts. Naturally, Terrance gathered his faithful charges into the chapel to join AIGC for a quick rehearsal of our closing piece, Clap Your Hands. Some of us (they shall remain nameless, but they were in the tenor section...hmm, who could that be?) were lovingly admonished not to sing in a classical, formal style, but rather to evoke a livelier, if not “stankier” tone. Yes. The Spirit is Risen. And moving among the people.
The next day, our free day, offered a choice between the Trinidad headland and beach, and staying local for the Arcata farmer's market in the quadrangle downtown. This presented a quandary, as some wanted to partake of both diversions. Once again, the lovely and intrepid, Sophie rose to the occasion and, without batting an eye, ingeniously arranged a turnaround point for our bus driver to pick up the Trinidad folks and shuttle them back over the freeway and to the prearranged drop off point near the bustling festivities in Arcata. Trinidad was way cool (can I say that at my age and get away with it) and boasts some historical religious significance that is evidenced in the monument of a large, stone-hewed white celtic (?) cross that, if memory serves, references King Charles I (Monarch of England, Scotland, and Ireland, 1625-1649) etched (in Latin) on the base. If any of our Trinidad party has the precise translation and its significance to the locality, please post it to this blog. Or, better yet, post a picture of the monument. As I recall, our hike along the headland was to culminate in the location of the Trinidad Lighthouse. As it turned out, only a few of us (not I) were able to espy the top of the lighthouse which, apparently, is situated on an outcropping of heavy rock that overlooks the beach. Other interesting encounters involved a lone snail, somewhat small, even as snails go, and sporting a shell with swirling colors of brown and green shades. We set the arthropod off the trail and onto a pillow of dry grass. By this writing, we hope he/she continues to thrive in the deliciously diverse north coast ecosystem. On our way back to the beach, Eileen and I came upon a patch of crystalline white spring blooms, all displaying a six-pointed array of petals, save one, the outlier, which announced ever so subtly, an array of 7 petals. An auspicious number, indeed. No sooner had we trekked another 20 yards than we glanced another garland of the same blooms, but with this patch all showing 5 petals to a flower, with the notable exception of the one outlier showing, you may have guessed, 6 petals. Nature's grand design -- a simple symmetry of harmony and diversity, the same and different, quiet and loud, precious to behold.
It's now 4 o'clock and we're all chilling or napping, or a mixture of both as we prepare for the concert up the road at the historic Arkley Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Eureka. Our sound check comes after the other performers so we've got some time to take in the sights and sounds of this beautiful theater, similar architecture and period as the Oakland Paramount, Art Deco, serpentine subterranean hallways, gathering, and dressing rooms, but a decidedly smaller lobby and auditorium. Our sound check goes well; our processing off stage into the front rows of the auditorium does, ahem, not. Terrance, the consummate professional and gracious showman that he is, wrings his hands a bit over our sudden propensity to not follow clearly given instructions. We get it together and fall into the first two rows, if not haphazardly.
We're on the risers. The curtain rises. (Say that ten times fast, vocalists!). And we're beaming lights of pure joy and rapture, and maybe a little indigestion compliments of the rushed burrito with too much chipotle sauce. Terrance focuses the choir with his most sincere "precious lambs I need you to watch me now" look. Cue band. First song: I Can Make It. Enter Gene. After the setup, mellifluous tones exude as the soloist hits the heart of every note, releasing a passionate first chorus. Maestro Terrance brings in the choir. Gene has laid the foundation. Choristers respond with equal vigor. We are all feeling the One Spirit. Singing in harmony, the One Voice. Second song: Marvelous. Stephanie's confidence is equalled only by her clarity of tone. Another impassioned performance. Hearts are light. The Muse is in the house. It IS the Music. We are merely the messengers.
Host choir AIGC called forth the Muse with its own incredibly energetic and polished execution of its eclectic repertoire, including a stirring arrangement of Stevie Wonder's Love's In Need of Love Today.
Everybody Clap Your Hands, with both choirs joined on stage, seemed the perfect closer to a memorable road trip.
Peace and Joy,
OICC choir member
Correction to King Charles I (17th century monarch of England, Scotland, and Ireland 1625-1649) attribution. The white cross monument bears the inscription of Carolus III (or Charles III) Dei (of our Lord) G. (?) Hyspaniarum Rex (King of Spain). Inscribed with the precise date, June 9, 1775. This makes sense historically as we all know the California territory was originally colonized by Spain.
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