We are headed into the depths of winter. I will not say the heart, because the glowing heart of winter, the warmth and the beauty and the wonder of it, all are wrapped up in the Christmas season which has recently come to an end, stranding us in Ordinary Time.
This past week has brought us long soaking dreary rains topped with a dusting of slippery snow and a bone chilling arctic blast of cold. This season stretches on, veiled with the dust of dried road salt, a thin harsh grime that covers streets and cars with a corrosive film that eats away at metal and hope. There is ice upon mud. There is mud upon my kitchen floor.
This is the perfect time of year for a house concert.
A house concert brings beauty, conviviality, and magic back into the cold and lonesome stretch of late winter. Hosting a house concert is a fantastic reason to hang the Christmas lights back up, mop the floors clean, bring in some fresh flowers, and pull all the furniture against the walls to open up your home, eat good cheese and drink fine wine and listen to beautiful music in fancy clothing, OR in farm boots and a cut off t shirt if you’d like.
One of the best things about house concerts is that you can make your own rules. For example, babes in arms and/or lap dogs welcome.
We hosted a house concert a week ago to celebrate a visit from my youngest sister, Clare and to work on the avant-garde Wild West material we will soon be recording and performing at several upcoming house concerts, on a tour to the Blue Ridge mountains.
With Clare’s help, we swept and scrubbed the house, pulled apart the couch, closed the pocket doors, and set up the living room for a house concert. We cut boughs of evergreen from the bushes in the garden and put them on the mantle and the kitchen windowsill. We pulled out the antique candlesticks and hung up twinkling Christmas lights.
We invited over a dozen friends, asked them to bring a bottle of wine. I baked several loaves of crusty bread, set out cheese and olives and dip.
In a fortuitous twist, Clare arrived bearing inherited treasures from a past and fantastically stylish generation- fringed sweaters and earrings which we decided were the perfect wardrobe for a house concert on a wintry night.
A house concert in late winter is a wonderful experience. As a musician, host, and guest of many of these occasions, I can’t recommend them enough. Although the details may change (lemonade and cookies or a potluck instead of wine and cheese, afternoon or evening setting, formal or informal attire) the heart of the experience is a joyful celebration.
So much of life takes place in Ordinary Time. Why not make it more musical? A house concert is a wonderful way to create beauty, to cultivate wonder, to nourish the soul with art, and to gather together joyfully in the dreary depths of winter.