A day in the LEAF

LEAFAsheville, a center for arts and culture in the Southeast, has no shortage of events that enrich the soul. Fortunately, the local arts councils are also generous with these events, providing free tickets to those who could not otherwise afford them. Little Miss and I were lucky enough to score day tickets to the Lake Eden Arts Festival, or LEAF.

The clouds had burst the night before, and some rain lingered into Saturday morning, but it certainly didn’t extinguish the spirits of those on site. When we arrived, the event was in full swing, concert music spilling into the air outside the tents, a poetry slam tearing words from writers’ hearts, the aromas of hot garlic and smoky grills on the breeze. Brave (foolish?) younguns ziplined down into the lake, now a balmy 50 degrees. One bank of the lake was lined with the tents of those staying for the weekend, the other with the festival venue.

Kids ran everywhere, enjoying being kids, many barefoot, even in the squishy mud left from the rain the night before. Arts and crafts booths lined the perimeter, and soon Little Miss sported her own magenta and lilac African mask on a necklace.

The crowd was a burst of colors, so many dressed in flowing fabrics and “hippie” style. I fell in love immediately with the atmosphere, one which pervades Asheville as a whole, but seemed concentrated at the event in one glorious serving.

The headliner for the music scene was Macy Gray; she’s playing today, so we missed her, but we didn’t miss out. Saturday afternoon, we listened to bluegrass artist Sara Watkins, and as the evening wore on we were treated to a show by Cuban R&B/hiphop artist Danay Suarez.  She’s one of LEAF’s teachers in the visiting artists program at local Erwin High School. Though her concert was in Spanish, even her commentary to the audience, it was easy to decipher her meaning once she began to sing. The reggae and jazz beats reached into the soul and lifted it up.

Such a wild and wonderful combination of folks! We, of course, hunted down our family connections with Lucia and Kevin Barnes from Ultimate Ice Cream (did you know they have a CSA for ice cream???), then moved on. I loved the folks with this sign–good advice was free, and “bad” advice, you paid for. Sounds about right.

I’d had a rough weekend physically, so I had my cane and a folding cart with a camp chair, etc. that I finally set up outside the concert tent. Little Miss announced she wasn’t done exploring, so she spent the next few hours going from booth to booth, talking to vendors, learning about sound healing, swinging on some awesome hanging chairs, smelling incense and candles and much more.  I know it may not sound like much to most folks that a 17 year old worked a crowd, but for those who know the autism spectrum, and Little Miss, this means she overcame the noise of the music and crowd, went on her own, spoke with strangers to gather information, and experienced independence–knowing I was in one place where she could find me if she needed anything. Pretty awesome.

Mid-afternoon, LEAF was treated to a parade with a host of performers like those of Imagine Circus from Raleigh, sparkling and dancing in the sun. 

 

A glorious day, in the end, though I hadn’t expected it would be.  Something I’ve been working on, my expectations. When you have debilitating conditions, it’s so easy to slip into a niche where you automatically choose not to go out and do things for fear of increased pain or repercussions or inability. I’m trying now to “expect” that yes, there will be difficulties, but the experience is worth it once all is done.

And the lovely Danay Suarez proved my point. The beats of her music got me to my feet, moved me like a hurricane wind from her island. I didn’t look around to see what people were judging this old, fluffy lady, swaying her hips with one hand on her cane and one on her chair. I was simply the music.

We went to LEAF. Little Miss got to be a real teenager. And I danced. 🙂

 

 

Inching toward normalcy

We’ve had a remarkably non-autistic week.

The children have squabbled with each other and bossed each other just like everyone else’s kids. They’ve told endless jokes at the dinner table. It’s been maddening. But again, this must be progress.

Captain Oblivious is recovering well and has discovered that he can, in fact, walk on his cast just like they promised. (Much safer for everyone in the room than the crutches deal, believe me. I know it takes practice to use them well, but his coordination is just not geared toward using tools. If he felt wobbly, instead of holding onto the crutches for support, he’d just wail and let go. BAM. Hit whatever was on the way down. *Sigh*.)

Little Miss has had the joy of rediscovering the outdoors. She’ll stay outside nearly all day, communing with nature. I watched her from the window as she simply sat in the grass, rubbing her hands through the leaves, examining things. Her dad helped her build a tent between two trees, and she carried out these foldable cubes made of parachute material to complete her little haven. So she just sits alone and listens to the birds and the wind and observes.

I suppose that may be considered autistic behavior. But when I think of “autism” the way the media portrays it, I think of the negative behaviors. What she’s doing is just being comfortable with herself and causing no one trouble. Is that autism? Maybe it is. Could we all use a little more of that perfectly calm, self-fulfilling behavior? I sure could.

It’s true when she comes back in she’s got that “other-worldly” flavor to her that she used to have much more as a small child, that feeling that she’s somehow in a parallel place, not quite synched with the rest of us.

And she’s decided she hates meat. *sigh*

But this too, will pass. Thank heaven for spring.

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Today I’ve been selected for a blog carnival at Blog Village, as part of a carnival on family memories. I was also part of sixty great entries in the Blog Carnival of Observations on Life last week. Come by and catch up on some great reading!!

I also created a real electronic song from scratch this weekend to go with my story, Concert of Collaboration: Making Music Together, published at Firefox News One more thing off my list of things I’ve never done before! (Special thanks to the Cabana Boy who helped me through the geek directions…)