A little over a year ago, Jamie and I came to Maine to live in a house I never thought I would live in again. But life is a wide adventure and we chose to embrace it as such and in so doing have opened our home to the community as a performance space one Saturday evening a month since December of 2012. We have met many of our neighbors, and a host of new faces, thanks to word of mouth, Facebook and articles written about our tiny venue in local papers. Every month, without fail, there is someone new who comes to perform. In August it was Mark Harding.
It was through a friend of ours that Mark had heard about Fuego Diablo. She had picked him up at the bus station in Portland, Maine, after his long journey from north of Spokane, Washington, to Logan Airport and the Concord Trailways bus trip to Maine. He arrived with guitar case in hand, ready to be caregiver for the week ahead for his mother, Deb, who was succumbing to cancer. During the ride from Portland to Freeport, she told Mark about our monthly music night which would fall during his stay. The next day, she kindly printed out a map and directions to our door and dropped it off for Mark should he have the urge to join us. He did have the urge, and so seamlessly did he fall in with the musicians who were on hand that it felt as though he had been part of Fuego nights since the beginning. They played long into the settling dew and the hushing darkness on the front lawn while the Milky Way stretched out lazily above us all.
Thanks to Facebook, we connected online when Mark got back to Kettle Falls and a few weeks later, learned that his mother had passed away and he would once more be making the long journey to Maine for her funeral. We had not expected to see him, given the nature of the trip, so it was with surprise that we found him at our back door on Sunday.
He had come to ask if he could borrow a guitar to use at his mother’s service. He had known that his mother wanted him to sing at her service but not that she had wanted him playing guitar as well. Luckily, he said, I knew where I might be able to borrow one. He told us again how much he had enjoyed his time with us and that he had downloaded a photo I had taken of him performing and printed it off for his mom. She put it beside her bed and had it with her when she died. We sent him off to his rehearsal at the church with Jamie’s acoustic from England, its hard-shell case decorated with stickers from places we have been in our travels.
Today, the guitar was returned. Mark and his cousin stood in our kitchen, the pair of them a couple of teenagers again, out from under the confines of expected behavior after a day of deep sadness. They talked music and adventures with us for a few minutes then Mark gave Jamie a hug of thanks for the use of the guitar and the respite that Fuego Diablo had given him.
Life is full of unexpected consequences.