Showing Up At The Last Bedlam Farm Open House

Susan, Kim and Dorlisa

The weather app said it stopped raining earlier in the morning, but every time I went outside on Sunday, I got wet.

It was either a heavy mist or a light drizzle.  It was cold and damp and wet, not the kind of day you wanted to be  spending outside.

The Open House starts at 11am, generally on a Sunday, people don’t really start showing up till 11:30 or 12.  But with the smaller crowd that we had on Saturday and the dreary weather on Sunday, I was going to be surprised if anyone showed up.

So when I found myself in my studio, heat up to 75 degrees, keeping warm with Susan, who came to help out, Kim our neighbor and one of the artists and Dorlisa, who works at The Mansion, Assisted Living Facility,  I decided it was time to change the script.

This wasn’t going to be a regular Open House.

The night before Jon and I were both disappointed with the smaller than usual crowd on Saturday. (Jon wrote about it on his blog) but by 8pm I was back in my gallery moving art around, filling the spaces of  art that had sold and trying to make the whole gallery look more inviting and appealing.

I learned the true meaning of “The Show Must Go On” years ago when I was driving Jon around the Northeast on Booktour.

There was one event that stuck in my mind.  The day before Jon had been in Austin TX speaking in an auditorium  filled with a thousand people.  The next afternoon we were in a bookstore in Connecticut with only four people.

I wondered what Jon would do, and will never forget how he didn’t hesitate for a moment and  asked the four women who came to see him to pull their chairs into a circle.  “We’ll have a cozy talk”, Jon told them and spent the next hour having a conversation about books and dogs.

That’s what I thought of when I saw Kim and Dorlisa and Susan standing around my studio on Sunday afternoon.  That’s what made me think to bring out three more chairs and some bottles of water.

I was determined to make the most of the day.  Sitting around talking to people, who made the effort to show up on a rainy day, suddenly sounded like a lot of fun to me.

While she was there, Dorlisa gave everyone who came in my gallery a big welcoming hug. Kitty and I tried to entice her to at  try a  free bellydancing class when she expressed some interest in it.  “I do have a belly” she said.

More people drifted in and out of my studio during the day than I ever would have expected.  And when 1o’clock rolled around, Kathleen, Emily and Callie, otherwise known as the Sisters of the Shawl were out on the wet slate porch bellydancing in the rain.

I tried to get in touch with Kathleen all morning to tell her not to come, that it was raining and there were few people at the Open House.  But Kitty, one of the founding members of the Bennington Beledi Bellydancers,  assured me that the Sisters of the Shawl would show up.  “We’ve danced in worse than this”, she shrugged.

The Sisters of the Shawl danced to an audience of no more than six people holding umbrellas, like they’re dancing for a crowd of hundreds.  Kitty was standing next to me while I watched and took videos, you can hear her yipping, the bellydancing way of showing encouragement and support.

It was not a typical Bedlam Farm Open House.  For 8 years we’ve been blessed with the smallest amount of rain during our Open Houses.  I can’t really complain about the weather on  this one day.

Now Jon and I are rethinking the Open Houses.  Trying to bring them up to date, to make less physical work and expense for ourselves and bring it to more people where they are.

So if this is the last Bedlam Farm Open House of it kind, it seems a sweet ending to me.  One filled with the kind of people who show up in spirit as well as body.  With people who will dance and laugh and hug, even when things don’t turn out the way they expected.

Callie’s daughter showed up too, in her skirt and hip shawl, joining the Sisters of the Shawl.



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