On New Friends, Old Friends, and Cricket Slaying- Texas Style

There is something strange going on in Texas during our tour, something dark and sinister, possibly even the return of the plagues of Egypt. For starters, in Denton we found the city to be overrun with black birds. I swear it was like a Hitchcock movie in the parking lot of the grocery store. I expected to see Heddy Lamar run screaming past us. Here is videographic evidence…brief because birds began flying at me- and I went running for the car, laughing and screaming like an eight year old girl. I’m not proud about it- it was purely survival instinct. 

​Then yesterday, when we walked into our hotel in Commerce, we were greeted by crickets in the parking lot. Crickets in the lobby. And…several crickets in our room- a plethora, in fact. Diane grabbed the only available weapon, a Gideon Bible, and sent five of them to Heaven. I’m sad to say the slaughter didn’t end there. One jumped on Diane’s bed, there were five more in the bathroom, and- worst of all- Diane missed the one on the ceiling and it divebombed my pillow. I now have a major cricket phobia and may never sleep again. Seriously. 

(Cricket photo credit: Syl Strawbridge….she fought her own cricket battles across the hall.)

Other than the cricket drama, our stop in Commerce has been wonderful. We had a fabulous time performing in the beautiful concert hall and working with the incredibly responsive clarinet studio at Texas A&M University- Commerce. It is fun to work with such well-prepared and friendly students. It isn’t always the case when you go out to do things like this, so we really appreciate these special programs. It appears that like everything else in Texas, hospitality is big, too. 

Some other really special things happened during our Commerce visit. A former student who I taught at Mars Hill College in North Carolina twenty years ago was on business in Texas and drove an hour to come hear our recital. Seeing her absolutely made my heart about burst. She has become even more of a beautiful human, and I am grateful that I had even a small part in helping her on her life journey through the clarinet. 

I also had two dear friends drive many hours to come to our recital and masterclass. These two special ladies were a part of my mom’s fan club on Facebook, what Mom called her ‘Space People’ (she was ninety-two and didn’t quite get the whole internet thing). They showed tremendous  kindness to Mom before she died and were a great support to me through it all, too. I will be forever grateful to them, and it was a joy to get to hug them and spend time with them afterwards at dinner. 

Thanks so much, Nancy and Syl!

Over and over again, I feel such gratitude for the opportunity to go on these recital tours around the country with my best friend. I am grateful to be doing what I love for a living every day, playing clarinet and teaching wonderful students- and having the opportunity to reconnect with special students and dear friends who have made my life so much more rich. And, as I curl up in my hotel bed in Ft. Worth after another long day of teaching and music-making, I am especially grateful that there are no crickets in our room. Not one. Peace of mind means a lot when it comes to turning out the lights in a strange place. Just in case, I just checked- the Gideon Bible is in the nightstand at the ready.   

2 thoughts on “On New Friends, Old Friends, and Cricket Slaying- Texas Style

  1. Neese, I think the black birds are grackles; very common down here. They gather in groups, love parking lots and they are fussy and noisy! With all Texas’ little nature surprises, you have had a frightful experience! A lot of critters down here and not the kind I’m use to either.

    I can’t tell you enough how wonderful it was to hear you play and spend some time with you. You are so cute!
    Your thoughtfulness in bringing a piece of Heavy D’s treasured jewelry melted my heart. xoxoxo

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