North on 287 with wheat and alfalfa running like ponies across the rolling expanse bound for the mountains on every horizon. It’s one of those late-summer days that poets keep trying to capture in words, but never do. It’s one of those big sky days that gives a state its nickname. I almost regret that I have a reading to get to: it would be fantastic to just keep driving, letting the roads unroll where ever they wish, only stopping for gas in towns I’ve never heard of.
But Helena pulls me in just in time to check into my room and head over to Bill Borneman’s house for a fantastic dinner of chicken saltimbocca and malbec in the enchanted garden of a backyard with miniature chickens roaming the underbrush and hummingbirds making the air vibrate with life.
Bill is the owner of Bedrock Books, where my reading is being held. But first, the writer and musician Aaron Parrett and I swing by his place to pick up a banjo and have a look at his book collection. We geek out on James Joyce for awhile, which isn’t something you can do with most banjo-players. Only the best of them.
The reading at Bedrock is like a house concert: a comfy living room full of new friends, surrounded by fantastic books. Good beer in the fridge and afterwards, a gathering in the backyard with night sounds, drunk neighbors and good stories passed around the circle.
And I think, oh yeah, that’s why I do this. Why I drive long distances to sell a few books. It’s these moments of fantastic people and places that open themselves to an out-of-town poet and say, “hey, let me tell you a story.”