Central PA: Blue Moon on the Susquehanna

This past Friday night, July 31, we were lucky enough to have a confluence of many things fabulous on the mighty Susquehanna River. It was a gorgeous night–not too hot, gentle breeze, low(ish) humidity. It was a blue moon. And Lumpy Gravy, a friend’s band, was playing on the Hiawatha, a modified paddle boat that runs pleasure cruises along the Susquehanna. What a great way to spend a Friday, no?

Hawaiian shirt means extra fun.

Cap’n George says: Hawaiian shirt means extra fun. Ahoy!

The sun was setting, we could hear the band warming up down below (they play in the climate-controlled main room, in case of weather or issues).

The bright light is from the parking lot, but you can see the pink glow behind that of sunset in the west.

The bright light is from the parking lot, but you can see the pink glow behind that of sunset in the west.

But then we noticed something else happening in the east. George said, “Hey, what’s that glow over the top of that ridge? Is there…some kind of light source?”

It's some kind of something, all right.

It’s some kind of something, all right.

Yeah, we realized, a moment later, as the light source was climbing. Oh, yeah. Ohhhhh HELLS TO THE yeahhhhhhh. It’s the moon.

Hey, li'l fella. Don't be shy!

Hey, li’l friend. Don’t be shy!

And you know, as these things tend to do, the moon just kept right on coming up.

I am always surprised by how quickly sunrise and moonrise happen.

I am always surprised by how quickly sunrise and moonrise happen.

Here she is again, with her reflection snaking away in the wake of a passing boat.



Once more, can we please? From the back of the boat?



Great, you’re beautiful, baby. Now how about a wider shot?

You mean like this?

You mean like this?

There’s a state park on the boat-landing side of the Hiawatha, and beyond that lies an industrial strip, home to factories that always have an abundance of lights burning. Thus, there is interesting light and shadow on the landing side that doesn’t necessarily mirror what the actual ambient light for the time of night should be.

The factories are beyond the trees, and I've got to admit, they make this interesting to look at on a night cruise.

The factories are beyond the trees, and I’ve got to admit, they make this interesting to look at on a night cruise.

And there we go, cruising right past some kind of utility tower.

Maybe it's beaming messages to aliens.

Maybe it’s beaming messages to aliens! 

Meanwhile, belowdecks, revelers twirled to the jammy sounds of Lumpy Gravy, celebrating 17 years of tie-dyed togetherness.

Rock it, Lumpy Gravy! 17 years and still going!

Rock it, Lumpy Gravy! 17 years and still going strong!

But you know, when you’re down below, you don’t get to see…


Le sigh.

Le sigh.

Bonus: they have good beer available for sale. Open water. Beer. Boat. Music. Friends.

Nope, not a bad way to spend a Friday night. Rollin’ on the river? Not a bad way at all.

Ellis Paul at the James V. Brown Library

Or rather, at the “liberry”, as I like to say.

Ellis Paul, the folk singer I’ve written about once or twice before, finally played somewhere that’s a reasonable driving distance from my little hamlet of a town.  I’ve been known  to make the three+ hour trek to Philly to see him, or drive an hour and a half to Harrisburg.  Twenty-six miles?  Less than thirty measly minutes?  To Williamsport?

Pfft.   Chump change.

OK, so it was a children’s show and I don’t have any kids.  Understandably, one might think that was a little quirky (Hello, my name is Terri but you can call me Aunt Creepster) BUT I am friends with one of the programming coordinators at James V. Brown Library.  The library, opened in 1907, is a gorgeous building bequeathed to the city by lumber baron James VanDuzee Brown (and thus not to be confused with a certain other James Brown, regardless of the music being performed).  Performers–Ellis, and anyone who plays there for First Friday events–get to play in the Rotunda Room, which boasts a beautiful stained glass rotunda and wrought iron gazebo.  It’s kind of an amazing place to spend a day regardless of why you’re there.  I got to help set up and hang out and feel all cool.  What a different person I’ve become, now that I think hauling chairs around a library on a Saturday morning to prep for a kids’ show is “cool”.  And yet I was.  A girl can’t help it, even if I wasn’t quite a roadie and was more of a…ummmm…venue monkey.  Or something.

Here’s the thing: even when he’s putting on a kid’s show, Ellis Paul is a great act to catch.  He’s funny and engaging.  He keeps the kids entertained and throws in enough references so the parents “get” that he’s winking at them.  He plays long enough to be worth it but not so long that the kids are losing their minds.  And even though these songs are written for children, they’re still conceptually interesting.  I didn’t know there was such a thing called “wabi-sabi“, never mind that it was a Japanese aesthetic that focuses on the acceptance of imperfection.  Not until I heard a song about it at a kid’s show.

It’s a great message for kids.  Not a bad one for adults either, when you come down to it.  But it’s one that’s far more challenging and evocative than “I love you, you love me.”  Which I suppose is nice too, but a little pedestrian and not always true.

Here’s some photos from the show.

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