Whatever happened to The Rough & Tumble?
Remember in 2020-- no, no before the pandemic. There was a little folk band who was on their way to Alaska. Then, yes, the pandemic. But they were alive and well, living in California and having weekly-- sometimes bi-weekly-- livecasts. They were releasing a song they wrote every week, conducting a cooking show, and creating hilarious dog-filled Instagram posts. People said things like "Wow, you guys have really adapted to being a virtual band."
Well, it turns out, being a virtual band can work out, in dire times (like a pandemic), pretty okay.
Until you don't have the internet, anymore.
So while you may have seen us popping out on Wednesdays for Double Americana, it's been a pretty sleepy existence to the naked eye. We've been living in a cabin in the woods of South Carolina, right on the North Georgia border. If it sounds so dreamy... it is. Except for the two hurricanes and the rat snake in the basement, we've been soaking up daily hikes, waterfalls. slow mornings with extra coffee and crosswords. We had a couple of virtual shows we sneaked up to a friend's Asheville basement full of internet to perform.
But otherwise, we've found that Pandemic Slump that everyone talked so much about. Somehow, we've avoided the impending feeling of doom a bit longer than the rest, keeping our hands busy and our brains limber. And while the election results gave us quite a boost of confidence for the coming year, it also presented the hard reality of how far we have to go to get back to any semblance of a normal folk band life. Like everyone else, our resources are running low, and our resilience has nearly depleted.
In October, we had a health scare with Mallory. We spent two weeks in the in-between, plotting out possible future paths-- If it's this, we will do this; but if it's that, we will do that. We spent the time talking to close friends, and walking about the property in a daze, going to bed at 7:30 just to sit and talk too late about nothing in particular, and thinking about only one thing in particular. When we got the call at last that put her in the clear, we were elated. But a brush close to mortality has us evaluating where we are going, what we are doing, and what is important.
We've decided that where we are going is nowhere for the time being. We have a new record coming up, which we are bursting to share, but must wait.
So what are we doing? We are taking a break-- a real break-- where we take part in some of that Sacred Dawdling we've heard so much about-- breathing in the fall air and scribbling in notebooks that have been too long neglected. Scott plays his new Yamaha guitar-- thanks to an exciting ambassadorship we received last month-- for hours in the now-snakeless basement, or on the porch when the weather is nice. Mallory spends mornings and evenings creating at her little bookbinding desk in the living room, and afternoons at 4PM sharp in the upstairs bedroom where she must write until 5:15PM (or later, if the allotted glass of Scotch hasn't depleted). Somewhere in the middle, we meet for meals and to take a few stabs at new songs. We are taking care of our bodies, going to bed around 9:30 every night and waking up before the sun (that's what lack of Netflix will do to your sleep schedule). We are drinking lots of water and getting Mallory to follow up appointments on time up in Asheville. We are trying to keep our stress level low, even while we feel like we are un-tethering.
What we are not doing is picking up our phones every few minutes checking the notifications, the news, the weird passing thought about the gestational period for a tarsier. But only because we can't. Any internet requires either driving down the hill into an abandoned parking lot, or hiking two miles into the woods. So, in a year of waiting-- waiting for the pandemic to be over, waiting for things to re-open, waiting for biopsy test results, waiting for elections to be done-- we have to wait to see if anyone is reading what we posted, or watching our videos, or even remembers who we are. Like any waiting room-- whether it's a doctor's office or a cabin in the woods-- it comes with it's share of anxiety. So we remind ourselves that we could do a lot worse than having to wait things out in the generous offer of a friend's place in the woods. We are lucky dogs-- all four of us.
Finally, what is important? To keep going. We may never have this time-- even with it's snakes and health scares and hurricanes-- again. The world is going to restart, in some way. Our names will be called again and we will leave the waiting room and walk out into the next thing, which will have its own challenges and what-ifs, where we will feel nostalgic for the time when we waited, in love and together in body and soul, with crossword puzzles and stack of freshly bound journals with no one to sell them to, a pile of songs with no one to play to, and a cocoon that made us ever more grateful to be breathing.
Even in the middle of a pandemic.
Especially in the middle of a pandemic.