After our first set on WVBR's Bound For Glory with Phil Shapiro, I noticed a young woman weaving something over in the corner. She stood out from the rest of the audience, as she was on her own and clearly focused on what she was doing. As I walked closer I noticed that she was weaving a basket of pine needles. I was hesitant to interrupt her work, but finally introduced myself.
Her name was Emily.
I brought the Freedom Boot over to her and explained that occasionally people would give us things to put on it, and suggested that if she felt so inclined she could contribute something after the performance.
We soon went back for our second and third sets. I would catch Emily out of the corner of my eye every so often weaving away while we were playing. When we finished our final set she came up to the stage.
"I weaved you a ring of infinity out of pine needles. They are from the west coast. They fell during an ice storm" I inspected the beautiful gift. About 30 fairly long blond pine needles, woven together, in the rough shape of an infinity symbol. Their scent was a subtle, deep pine.
We attached the ring of infinity to the boot. After a couple days we decided to take it off though, as it was a bit fragile. We put it on the dashboard of the truck, where we would sniff and admire it every so often during the long road trips between gigs.
About a week later I was standing outside the Port Jazz club in Port Jefferson waiting to greet the few people I was expecting. My mother and some of her friends soon began to show up, and then my father's Aunt Ethel appeared. I had not seen her for many years, so it was a bit of a surprise to see her. She said she was living in the area and my father had called to tell her about the show, so she decided to come with her daughter. We spoke for a few minutes, and then the rest of my family arrived.
My Aunt Sandra from Oregon, my brother Chris from Florida...dozens of family and old friends from near and far (both geographically and memory wise) It was a total surprise, bordering on shock. My dad and the rest of the family had kept their plans entirely secret. The night had become a Bergeman family reunion. It was also Cory's birthday, which made it even more of a celebration.
Before we took the whole party up to the club to begin our sets, my Dad gave me an old tan suede cowboy hat.
"This was Pop's hat. I want you to have it."
I tried it on, but it was too small for my head unfortunately, so I put it in the truck.
I didn't want the night to end and a part of me just wanted to step off the train of the tour and spend a few days with everyone. But we had to be in D.C. the next day, so I said my goodbyes and gave lots of hugs.
Grandpa's hat stayed in the truck between me and Cory, and became a kind of "hold all" for the stuff floating around the cab...harmonicas, receipts, cell phones etc.
A week or so after Port Jefferson Cory was inspecting the boot. "Hey-where is the ring of infinity?"
"It's in Pop's hat"