So, I decided to just up and go to Denver for a couple days. A little on the spontaneous side, but one of my favorite bands, The National, was playing Red Rocks, a super famous venue I’d never been to, and I thought, why not? I don’t have kids, so I can do things like that, right?
Well, the answer to “why not?” turned out to be “because Denver is going to experience an early cold spell and it’s going to be just above freezing and raining at the outdoor concert, and Rocky Mountain National Park’s main road is going to be closed due to early snow so all your plans are going to be ruined.” But I didn’t know that two weeks before the trip, when I originally planned it.
But, making the best of things, the direct flight from Baltimore to Denver is about three and a half hours, which is a nice chunk of reading time, especially when you factor in time spent waiting for boarding, etc. I overpacked books, as I always do, just in case.
I’m still working through Mildred Walker’s Fireweed and the collected short stories of Zora Neale Hurston. I also brought the Short Fiction of Nella Larsen (which turned out to be three very short stories that took almost no time at all to finish once we were in the air), and I also packed the recently-found-and-purchased Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey!
I’ve been looking for a copy for a while, but it’s a tough one to find. Other books in the series are pretty common in used bookstores, but a paperback of the first one turned out to be pretty rare (people do seem to hang on to Dragonflight). Finally, though, the Book Nook in Glen Burnie came through!
The three short stories by Nella Larsen were quick to get through, as I mentioned. Passing and Quicksand are both stronger than her three published short stories, the best of which was the last, Sanctuary. They all had familiar elements that you’d recognize from her novels, and they were remarkable in their own right, but more of interest to experts or as a novelty than as standalone writing; if you read only one thing by Larsen, it should of course by Passing. But I’m glad to have read the stories, because now I have read all that she published. While it’s not extensive, everything she left gives the reader much to think about.
I then spent a good hour or so making progress through Fireweed, happily ensconced in a tiny mill town in the upper peninsula of Michigan, just before the Great Depression. This kind of book is right in my wheelhouse – very Cather-esque.
Then I started Dragonflight. One of the great things about this project is that it has really pushed me outside of just reading the typical books I would naturally gravitate toward (like Fireweed), causing me to discover that I actually love a lot of books I didn’t realize I would – like Dragonflight. I only made it 50 pages in before the plane landed, and I was bitterly angry at the announcement of our final descent for interrupting the adventure in Ruatha. Couldn’t they see I was in the middle of something?!
Anyway, once I landed, I ended up having real-life adventures that put my dragon-related ones on pause temporarily. The concert, if you’re wondering, was wonderful, although it’s probably the coldest I’ve been since a Dave Matthews Band concert I attended in the rain in…1999 maybe? at RFK Stadium.
I was much better prepared for this one from a warm clothing perspective (college students do a terrible job of dressing for the elements when attending outdoor concerts when compared with legal analysts in their late thirties, if you can believe it), but in absolute terms the weather was just colder for this one!
Red Rocks is a really magical place and I can see why musicians are known for doing such amazing performances there. The opening act, Sharon van Etten, put on an amazing show too, in fact, so much so that even though I wasn’t really that familiar with her, I could tell that this was a standout show. About halfway through her set, the thought “she’s playing the show of her life” just kind of popped into my head, and I wondered to myself why I thought that, since I had no way of knowing if it was true.
Later in the show, though, during their own awesome set, The National’s guitarist thanked Sharon for opening and mentioned that it was the best performance he’d ever seen her give. So the vibe I was picking up from her was right on! Red Rocks seems to inspire that from musicians.
Anyway, my adventures in Denver will continue in my next post. I even get to go to a used bookstore, although the visit was not altogether harmonious…until next time. Happy reading, y’all!