Tonight is the last chance to enjoy this new-to-Cheekwood event. Stroll the summer gardens; tickets include drink tickets to redeem at each stop along the crawl. Must be 21+ to purchase tickets. Details and tickets here. Food trucks, live music, and lawn games.
Advance Ticket Pricing (must be purchased by one-hour before the event) $15 for members | $25 for not-yet members
*On-site Ticket pricing
$20 for members | $30 for not-yet members (includes admission to Thursday Night Out)
*On-site ticket sales end at 8:30pm.
Fresh watermelon cocktails, watermelon eating and seed spitting contests, free samples, live music. 80 local and regional food artisans, craftspeople, artists, food trucks, and international restaurants. 3.
3. Big Band Dancing in the Park
8/18/2018, 7:00 PM – 10:00 PM, Rory Partin & His All Star Big Band
This summer is the 35th anniversary of Big Band Dances in Metro Parks. Bring a lawn chair and get ready to TANGO. Free lessons at 7 and 8:30. Swing dancing for all ages till 10. Food trucks on-site. If wondering if cancelled due to weather, check Twitter at www.twitter.com/bigbanddances.
4. Shakespeare in the Park presents A Midsummer Night’s Dream
August 16 – September 9, 2018
Thursdays through Sundays and Labor Day Monday at Centennial Park Bandshell.
Celebrating its 30th Anniversary Season, the Nashville Shakespeare Festival presents this beloved play. This production asks, “If we’re in love, are we ever in control?” Bring a blanket and watch Puck do some fairy magic and mischief.
Food & drink vendors open:
Talking Shakespeare with nightly special guest speakers begins:
Pre-show entertainment begins:
Margaret: “It’s going to rain!”
Marianne: “It is NOT going to rain.”
Margaret: “You always say that and then it always does!”
Marianne: “There’s a bit of blue sky, let us chase it!”
—Sense and Sensibility 1995 movie based on Jane Austen’s novel
Find your inner romantic/Marianne and a bit of blue sky April 14-15 to take advantage of half-priced admission at the closing weekend of Cheekwood in Bloom 2018. Spring blooms and the Beer Garden with seasonal brews, craft cocktails, food trucks and live music 11-4 PM beckon. Other weekend events and more details can be found here.
Yesterday at Dickens of a Christmas in Franklin with my sister and brother-in-law, I ran into Edy, our wonderful Airbnb hostess last summer. She asked why I haven’t been posting on the blog.To her and other readers, I apologize. Reentry into the US over the last six months after three years abroad has been an adventure in itself. So much has happened which I’m still processing and will be part of the memoir I’m writing. And, yes, I’ve been away from the blog and all of you too long.Thank you, Edy, for sharing my Nashville Guide with guests and encouraging me to post this…
In the morning I watched the geese from the door through the mist, sailing in the middle of the pond, fifty rods off, so large and tumultuous that Walden appeared like an artificial pond for their amusement. But when I stood on the shore they at once rose up with a great flapping of wings at the signal of their commander, and when they had got into rank circled about over my head.—Henry David Thoreau, Walden
Mom and I watched the geese from the patio as they picked through grass by the pond. The week after Thanksgiving had been quiet. As much as we loved having my grown kids with us, we hated seeing them go. Determined to have everything done before they arrived so I could savor time with them and too excited to sleep, I was in the kitchen till 1 AM the night before, cooking and binging on Outlander.We blinked and only leftovers in the freezer were proof that the holiday really happened. Now Christmas calls. But as I walk Ella over crunchy leaves beside still waters at Edwin Warner Park, I remember not only being there with Cole and Brittany Thanksgiving Day, but how nature reminded me all fall I’m never alone. I’m grateful for last autumn—my first in three years.And I thank God that I spent much of it in my own Walden Woods.
In 1854, Henry David Thoreau published Walden or Life in the Woodsafter living in a 10’ X 15’ cabin beside a pond for two years, two months and two days.Though I’ve never been to Walden Woods outside Concord, Massachusetts, I’ve been inspired by Walden and so have my students. Thoreau was the original American minimalist. I’m learning to follow his advice to “Simplify! Simplify!” and after living in apartments three years while abroad I have grown accustomed tosmall spaces. I’ve culled and curated my material possessions which were packed into 1800 square feet for over twenty years, then a storage unit until I moved back.
I moved home and had no house.Virginia Woolf was so right when she said women need a room of their own—or at least room, space— to write, create, think, breathe.I am grateful for three months spent with my mom in my hometown as I job searched, then began teaching university and college English. At the end of September, I finally settled in Nashville, where I call home.I was able to focus on writing my memoir of the three years abroad–why I went and why I returned. Surrounded by peace, quiet, nature, I could hear God, my Muse, again.
My “tiny home” is 785 square feet beside three quiet lakes where geese greet me each morning. Minutes away is Percy Warner, Cheekwood, and the Harpeth River. I craved green space while in Santo Domingo where my apartment had no outdoor area and was surrounded by loud, relentless traffic and high-rise condos. When I returned to Nashville, I ironically found much of the same.
Friends and family warned that Nashville had grown and changed. Drastically. But last September I managed to find a place where I now see deer on daily walks.A couple of weeks ago, after all the leaves had fallen, I realized I could finally see into the woods.At the moment I looked up, peering past the pine trees, I saw on a shag carpet of burnt orange and brown leaves two of them staring back at me.On Thanksgiving Day we saw a buck snorting through the woods not far for where we walked Ella. The next day, Cole spied three deer while sitting on my living room couch.
Here I watch cardinals, bluejays, and finches take turns at my bird feeder and chipmunks enjoying seeds that they drop to the ground.A covey of doves feed there, too, reminding me again that although I have no idea what 2018 holds, I have peace. I still miss my home of 21 years which I sold in 2016.I always will and still can’t bear to drive by.But I believe I made the right choice and am where I need to be.In stillness I’m moving in the direction of my dreams.
Since moving home last June it has been a journey, and on it goes—a new season in a new life which a former coworker in Morocco called “the new new.”With all the change over the last 3+ years—4 schools and 4 addresses in 3 countries—I’ve not posted on the blog as much since I lived in Morocco.I’m writing a memoir that will explain, as I continue to understand, all that happened there and in the Dominican Republic, and what is happening now as I repatriate and try to create a new life in Nashville.
For me, moving to foreign countries was easier in many ways than making a new life in what used to feel so familiar. Career transition can be one of the scariest moves of all.Trading the security of what we’ve always done for what we now want to do is risky. I’d been in a classroom Monday through Friday since I was five. It was time. Teaching as an adjunct gave me a season to prioritize writing though I still put in eleven-hour days commuting to two schools twice a week. I missed full time pay and travel, but taking a timeout meant more time with Taylor who lives nearby and Mom who needs me now. And more time to create the life I imagine.
At Belmont University I designed and taught a course called “Long Way Home: Essential Journeys.” Truly life is like a web of adventures radiating to and from a center—home. I believe our Creator is home. That He lives within and guides us on journeys uniquely designed for each of us to become the person he or she is meant to be. My students chose journeys out of their comfort zones they felt would positively impact their lives. They researched the benefits and risks, the how-tos and whys, and for a month carried out their quests. We had focused on narratives and memoirs, particularly Cheryl Strayed’s, Wild.Check out the book and the movie it inspired produced by Reese Witherspoon, a Nashville girl, who played the lead. Cheryl’s journey — hiking 1100 miles of the Pacific Coast Trail alone—was a physical and spiritual task. What she learned wasn’t so much about the finish line as what it took to cross it. It always is.
They shared the challenges and takeaways of playing instruments, learning sign language, serving in the community and beyond. They practiced yoga, veganism, and ran, boxed, rock-climbed, and hiked their way across Nashville. One student after learning to play the guitar changed her major from Music Business to Music Therapy; others sought counseling to heal old wounds so they could move forward. They challenged each other to use less social media to make friends in real time and get more sleep.
Like my high school students who had completed The Deliberate Life project from Music City to Morocco, students at Belmont taught me a lot. So did my night classes at Vol State where I enjoyed working with adults who gave their all despite full time jobs and responsibilities to their own families. Students who believed an education would help them follow Thoreau, too, who said: “Go confidently in the direction of your dream. Live the life you’ve imagined.”
I was thrilled yesterday to be headed again to El Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead). With all the changes that have happened in Nashville over the three years I lived abroad, I was happy that Cheekwood still hosts one of my favorite fall events and one of the most important festivals in Latin American culture. On El Dia de Los Muertos families honor relatives who have passed into the next life by creating altars as memorials and tapetes (carpets or murals usually made of sand to represent the brevity of life). They also celebrate the gift of living with joy and thanksgiving. The fall before I moved to Morocco, my International Club students and I really enjoyed the event. This time I was with my friend Sara, a teacher at Centennial High School, who was excited that their school had done its own festival and students were also participating in Cheekwood’s Tapete competition. I was excited, too, that her son, Trent, was at his first celebration.
As we headed to the food trucks, I saw another old friend, David, who had taught my students Latin dance years before. “Welcome to Nashville!” he grinned.
He pointed to a booth where I’d see what he had been up to. There I saw another Colombian friend, Marcela Gómez, who had founded a company called Mi Tribu (My Tribe) which gives back to her home country and shares its beauty with the world. Mi Tribu sustains female indigenous and displaced artisans who create the unique goods and reminds women everywhere we belong to the same tribe. Check out the website for Christmas gifts that will continue giving.
As Sara, Trent, and I walked to the Frist Center to see the Aztec dancers, we passed a long line of school busses. In its fifth year, Cheekwood’s El Dia de Los Muertos fiesta had drawn students from many Tennessee and Kentucky middle and high schools–some sharing their native tradition, others wanting to learn more. The tradition here was alive, well, and growing. Authentic crafts, foods, art activities, face painting, and live music against a backdrop of gorgeous grounds beginning to burst into autumn color was energizing. Seeing people of all ages from diverse backgrounds having fun together was beautiful.
Thanks to the Hispanic Family Service, Catholic Charities of Tennessee for more history:
Dia De Los Muertos started 3,000 years ago by the indigenous people in what is now Mexico. The practice was discovered 500 years ago by Spanish Conquistadors.
When the Spanish couldn’t eradicate the ritual, they merged it with Catholic theology and moved it to coincide with All Saints’ Day (November 1) and All Souls’ Day (November 2). Skulls are still used as they were by the Aztecs to symbolize death and rebirth. The Aztecs and other Mesoamerican civilizations believed the dead visited during the ritual. They didn’t fear death but embraced it: “To them, life was a dream and only in death did they become truly awake.”
Today Day of the Dead is celebrated in Mexico and in some parts of the US and Central America. In rural Mexico, families visit the cemetery where loved ones are buried. They decorate the graves with marigolds and candles, toys for children, and tequila for adults, then picnic beside the graves eating the favorite foods of loved ones. In larger cities in Mexico and the US, families build altars in their homes memorializing the dead with flowers, food, and photos of the deceased.
Another Christmas gift idea…
I’ve been a fan of Cheekwood since moving to Nashville in 1987, and now that I’ve moved less than two miles away, I bought a membership to enjoy all the 55-acre botanical garden and historical estate has to offer. (It’s also part of my Walden Woods season–more on that in the next post). I’m looking forward to fall in full bloom, then holiday lights November 24-December 31. Check out their plans and discounts for military, educators, students, and seniors (65+), benefits locally, and reciprocal admission to nearly 200 botanical gardens, arboreta, and conservatories nationwide and over 60 museums in the Southeast. Reciprocal admission is also offered in Canada, The Cayman Islands, and the Virgin Islands, and opportunities for Travel Study abroad with the American Horticulture Society are linked here.
Roots and wings. Nashville has and is (for me) both. This progressive place with a legendary past is the 7th fastest growing city in the US. Friends told me of new restaurants and music venues, of more traffic in the year I was away, but I was still surprised by all the change.
Growing up in Kentucky, I romanticized Nashville and its icons. As a six-year-old in the ‘60s my “imaginary friend” was an imaginary husband—Elvis—and I still remember watching the Johnny Cash Show with my dad on Friday nights long before I’d go to concerts at The Ryman where it was taped. Walk the Line is one of my favorite movies—a love story of a Bad Boy reformed by a woman, her family, and faith. When asked for his definition of Paradise, Johnny said of June Carter Cash, “This morning, with her, having coffee.”
If you are fans of Elvis and Johnny, too, local artist Cindy David’s guitar pick earrings are my pick for cool souvenirs/ gifts. She sells them at festivals and gift shops (Nashville Airport, Frist Center, Omni Hotel, Nashville Symphony, and Cheekwood), or you can contact her at CindyDavid.com. I brought back a pair for Johnny.
When writing in Nashville for Examiner and Hispanic Nashville.com , I highlighted local events that defy Music City being put in a box—
Moviemaker Alberto Fuguet was also drawn to Music City. While Artist-in-Residence at Vanderbilt University, he wrote and filmed Musica Campesina. The film explores the immigrant experience of Tazo, a Chilean who comes to Nashville seeking a career in country music. In a scene with the lead (played by Pablo Cerda) I’m a desperate housewife who offers him iced tea but serves Jack Daniel. Fuguet described Tazo as a “fish out of water” which I better understand now living in a different culture. Many days I feel like a mermaid in Marrakesh.
My month at home went too fast to see all the new places I wanted to explore and visit all my old haunts. Below Taylor, Cole, and I played tourist downtown on 2nd Avenue and Broadway. Acme Feed and Seed has live music, reasonably priced food and a rooftop for taking photos.
Also on Broad is the Frist Center. We celebrated a Big Birthday of my friend, Cheryl, there where The Long Players had people dancing in the grass under the light of a big, blue moon.
Below is the video Emily made celebrating Cheryl’s 60th Birthday and what a “Young American” looks and acts like. Also check out travel videos from Emily’s adventures on her Vimeo station, My Open Road.
Though there are so many places to go, things to do, food to eat, I have to wrap up because I’m getting homesick. For a fix of Italy I love Bella Napoli near Belmont or Coco’s Italian Market in West Nashville. Urban Grub on 12th South has oysters and great grits. And in my neck-of-the-woods, there’s the Hip Donelson Farmers Market for home-cooking-for real like the spread my sister and brother-in-law made for my farewell dinner.
I went to McNamara’s, named “One of the Best Irish Pubs in America,” with my friend, Theresa, then Cole while home for the corned beef and cabbage and band, Nosey Flynn. For lighter fare there’s Phat Bites‘ Chinese Chicken Salad, Broccoli Salad, and Greek Salad and Cinco de Mayo in Hermitage and Old Hickory for a reward after a long walk on the Greenway or just because.
Finally, events I miss most in Nashville are Fall Festivals. Hope you can make one or all!