March 17, 2023- The darling girl owned the room, as soon as she and her mother entered. One of those people whose smiling eyes could melt the iciest heart, she engaged anyone who would listen in a few minutes of banter. We know each other from somewhere, and her mother is a doppelganger for a much loved friend who lives outside Portland, OR. We greeted each other cheerfully, but as strangers, as if meeting for the first time. Her grandmother showed up, a while later, as the Raven Cafe’s grand re-opening proceeded, with the Joe Booth Band, a rousing bluegrass and rockabilly ensemble, got the proceedings going.
Nonna mistook me for one of the owners, as I was sitting close to their table, in a small wooden chair by the water station, with the beer and wine menu overhead. I guess the father of one of the owners overheard and came over, interrupting my description of the t-shirt that had caught her interest, and making sure that the ladies knew who he was, before walking off to his next conversation. Normality has returned quickly to the Raven, after it was closed for a month, for structural repairs.
As Joe and the guys readied for their second set, they brought the sister of a friend on stage, for her first public performance. She held her own, for two songs, and seems to be a quick study on the fiddle. There was a goodly amount of dancing, mostly by the women and girls, wherever they could find space. The girl I mentioned at the outset was up there with the rest, dancing her heart out. This time, I contented myself with bouncing lightly in my chair-not really needing to be all that conspicuous. It was enough to see so many people enjoying themselves on the scattered open spaces.
Today being St. Patrick’s Day and, by happenstance, the 29th anniversary of my youngest brother’s passing, there was a bittersweet air. This time in March has ever seemed like a time of new life, at least in the northern hemisphere- the unrolling of a green carpet. Brian’s passing marked the end of a fair period of suffering and decline, so he moved on to his own new life-as his sister-in-law would, nearly 26 years later. Festivities such as this evening’s comfort me, as a kind of green carpet of the heart. Maybe the mother and daughter, who were so happy to meet me, are angels sent to make sure that the message of joy supersedes any lingering sorrow.
It is a blessing to have the Raven open again.