Big Ol' Weekend - Kiki Clark
I'm not the kind of person to feel starstruck. But last night, sitting in Boettcher Auditorium and waiting for Bernadette Peters to come onstage, I felt a little flutter in my chest. She's one of the greats. A great voice, a great mane of beautiful hair, a great performer. Leafing through the program, I read that her husband of nine years died in a helicopter crash six months ago. Six months. I have no idea how long she's been touring with this show. Is it an obligation she can't get out of, or therapy -- the only thing keeping her from crying twelve hours a day? I suspect the latter.
She came onstage, as creamy and beautiful as ever, in very high heels and a beaded dress that shot prisms of color and probably weighed 25 pounds. And she started with Sondheim's No One Is Alone.
"Sometimes people leave you
Halfway through the wood..."
It was almost devastating to watch, especially through binoculars. I'm pretty sure she cried a little, but here's the thing -- she never missed a note, never lost control of her voice. Any grief she felt was channeled into the music. I've seen her perform that piece on DVD, and this version blew it away. The whole evening was like that. There were some happy songs, but the majority were sad. After all, Sondheim is her favorite composer, and he specializes in angst.
People gasped at the end of songs. I did it after that one, and I heard a woman give a sort of moan at the end of Faithless Love. ("Faithless love has found me. Wrapped its chilly arms around me.")
She finished the concert with the hopeful benediction of Irving Berlin's Counting My Blessings, and got two standing ovations. I have never seen that much raw pain on stage. I've never seen pain made to serve music like that, and I have never seen a better live performance.
This morning we had a different kind of entertainment. We went snowshoeing. Our friend Heather had never been, and felt comfortable trying it with us, since we are not the kind of gung-ho athletes who assume everyone is up for a nine-mile hike in below freezing weather. The weather was below freezing, but we made certain she was dressed properly and strapped into her shoes. Then we pootled around in the great white way for about an hour, stopping for a thermos of cocoa laced with Frangelico and then making our way back to the trailhead. We were almost back to the parking lot when we stopped to fawn over a cute, worried terrier, dressed in a bomber-jacket-style dog coat and little booties. His name was Scooby. Turned out he was with a party of people that included a gal Heather hadn't seen since high school, which was pretty cool.
We had lunch in Nederland, and invited a distinguished man with an artificial leg to join our table. He had flown in both WWII and Korea, used to fly Teddy Kennedy around, lost his leg in a head-on air collision (not his fault), and now spends his days flying and boating around the world with his wife of 19 years, whom I envisioned as one of those Katharine Hepburn types -- a tough, adventurous woman with steely blue eyes and an elegant jaw you could nonetheless crack rocks on. We had a great time talking to him.
On the drive home, we decided to stop at Boulder Falls. In the summer, the water thunders down the 30 to 40 foot drop, making tourists raise their voices to be heard. The surrounding rock, not to mention the creek, makes it difficult to approach closely. But in the winter, you can walk across the frozen creek to the very foot of the falls, which now look like the interior of a cave, with rippled ice, cupped and curved ice, lacy ice, and ice stalactites furry with perfect, snowflake-shaped crystals. Water sluices behind these ornate shapes like shadows on a wedding cake. Beneath our feet, the creek chuckled in high and low tones, sounding like bamboo wind chimes.
We went home, well-exercised, well-fed and over-upholstered, and stripped off the top layers of our clothes so we wouldn't cook. It's been a great day, and I'm counting my blessings.