Fourteen Tubas

Kate Murr

Last night was the first official public meeting for this biking across America endeavor. It was exciting! So, today’s Sunday afternoon ride felt especially luminous as we left the house (for the second or third time—diapers, water—nope. sunglasses, baby—nope…) to head west.

We intended to ride downtown and perhaps crash a friend’s home for dinner (Mel and Adam…maybe next week?), but instead, we heard drums as we approached Phelps Grove Park. This excited Brady greatly, and I remembered hearing something about an MSU marching band concert. We rode through campus then, to check it out. We wove through clusters of chatty young girls (really, are they getting younger?) and lanky, fidgety young men sporting MSU lanyards, groups of be-skirted and tie-dyed swaying smokers congregated around one bearded bard and his guitar, and fields of soccer players and carefree, shirtless disk tossers: an entire buzzy realm of play. To ride through the energy of a college campus this time of year is inspiring.

The band was warming up in sections about campus: here, a circle of fourteen tubas; here, on the steps in arrow formation, a flight of trombones; here, a perfect square of trebly trumpets blocking intense choreographic angles. (The atmosphere reminded me of attending music camp in Michigan at Interlochen when I was younger. In that place there were acres of music and dancing and acting; one walked through sonatas and arias and soliloquies daily, just to get to lunch, and then, after dinner, one enjoyed a full symphony with such greats as Itzhak Perlman. All this to say, like biking, I feel music is an excellent mode of transportation).

We grabbed dinner at Chipotle as the band continued to warm up, and made our way to the stadium just in time to watch them take the field for the concert. While Jane made friends with the mascot, whom she claimed was a girl because she was wearing sequins and a feathered hat, Brady informed Boomer Bear that we were here to hear the tubas. Which we did. After each song Brady said, “Mommy, AGAIN!” and he shook his hips to the music and Jane held her doll at strict attention. Tonight, at the end of summer, with the children mesmerized by the music, Stuart staring longingly at all those brass bells, and salsa pooling on my “Little Miss Green” tee shirt, I felt exactly at the right place.

After the concert we donned helmets and headed home through the cool (WHAT?) August evening, minus my tail light, which Stuart says is in his truck, for some reason. We approached our house from the back yard, where we ran into our back yard neighbor, Chandler, who was cooking s’mores and yard camping with a girlfriend on one of her last free nights before her very first day of middle school.

A bike ride. A band. A treat in the neighbor’s back yard. This is the essence of summer I’m happy to share with my kids. This is an excellent way to begin an adventure!

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