Thrumming on the tent roof.
Light streams through the blue-green siding. I scoot away from a raindrop hitting my eyebrow, snuggling into the sleeping bag next to James. He is my personal living heater.
We are camping on the edge of a Washington beach in the Olympic National Park. The last couple days have been spent exploring the old-growth Hoh Rainforest. As a Tolkien reader and tree lover, seeing a forest of the proportions of Fangorn or Rivendell is utterly magical.
Even more fun is being a part of the procession of our can-do super-friendly crew and the band dragging all the shoes, makeup, clothes, generator, speakers, cameras, and lights into the midst of the mossy wilderness, up slopes, over logs, finding the very best angles and frames. Ha ha.
Funner than that? Exploring while Annie does her solo shots. Taking silly background photos. Stumbling upon the flash of coral dress like a fairy in the trees when we accidentally journey full-circle.
Then there’s the Big Cedar Tree. Yes. It’s exactly what it sounds like. It's 19.5 feet in diameter and 174 feet tall. Imagine it. A couple years back a lightning bolt struck the tree in two, laying the insides to exposure and gracing the ground with a gnarly trunk.
The kids love it and Berklee and James loved playing with the kids in and around the world wonder.
And now there’s the day on which I wake up with the rain. It’s fitting that we are filming the song ‘In the New World’ in a part of the country that would look a lot like the virgin forests and beaches the first journeymen came to.
I finally pull myself out of the insulated sleeping bag and head into the cabin, where the marrieds with children have been sleeping, and start curling my hair in the upstairs bathroom. My mother and Berklee are starting to cook breakfast downstairs. The smell of cheesy scrambled eggs and cinnamon toast fill the house.
Stomachs full, faces made, hair crisped, and we are heading out to the beach in full evening gown regalia. We walk down a dirt road a quarter mile till it melds into fat smooth stones and roots and we come to the cold, foggy beach.
The dead trees lay there in cacophonous glory, bleached white from the sun. It reminds me of Scar’s kingdom full of cackling hyenas in the Lion King. Apparently tsunamis rise up and hit the great trees, pulling them out of the forest and down onto the beach.
While the ladies have been dressing, another adventure has been taking place: the quest for the scene location.
Once found, the men had to move the thousand-pound, 1800s piano that is made with iron and overlaid with wood. This takes a hydraulic lift, a four-wheel-drive pickup truck, and the entire crew, my brothers, and my husband to achieve it.
I first heard about the hydraulic lift when I called Jeremiah one day. He picked up the phone.
I hear scuffling in the background.
“What’s going on?”
“We’re trying to…OH MY GOSH! I CAN’T SEE! I CAN’T SEE!!! GET IT OFF OF ME!!!!”
I freak out on the other side of the iPhone. “What happened? Jeremiah? JEREMIAH!!!???”
I hear shouting through the line and then the phone goes dead. I keep trying to imagine what could have happened to him. I pray fervently. James says, "What? What happened? TELL ME!!" from the kitchen where he is at the never-ending saga of washing dishes in a dishwasher-less apartment.
"I DON'T KNOW!"
Later on I find out that he got drenched with hydraulic fluid.
All for art's sake!
Anyway, back to the story. Summing up: the men have been down on the cold beach the entire morning setting things up. Then when we girls arrive in our evening gowns and high heels, they all offer us their coats and second shirts even though the wind is crazy and it is super cold. They’re the most superest guys ever.
As anyone who has done film before knows, the biggest job for the person being filmed is waiting. So for a while I sit on a stool by the infamous piano in a coat and wait while solo shots are done, lighting is adjusted, and yada yada yada.
Then it's time for the group shots. The wind is wild as we film, our curled hair whipping into a tangle, performing over and over again, me trying to bang out the right notes from the stiff, stringless piano keys in a realistic fashion, angle after angle from the moving camera, the still camera, the drone, until the day has waned away into dusk.
We only have thirty minutes of sun left and we must capture the silhouette shot. So we hike up our skirts, kick off our high heels, and catapult as fast as we can over the sharp rocks. We climb up the bleached bone trees, watching for hyenas, and try to balance in a comfortable looking fashion on our perches.
The shot is epic.
Darkness settles over the landscape of giant trees and giant pebbles. A tarp goes over the piano. Flashlights shine as the cameras are packed up and we vainly try to find our shoes. James heroically tries to carry us footsore women over the sharp pebbles to the sand.
I run up the path in the dark, ears straining for the sound of grizzly bears and panthers, my over-active imagination terrifying me, until the golden lights of the cabin peak through the trees, the laughter of children rides on the air, and the warm smell of my mother’s marvelous meal tickles my nose.
James goes crazy down on the beach because he can’t find me in the wilderness. He runs up to the cabin through the trees, missing me on the road, calling my name, back to the beach, and finally up again to the cabin, where I am sitting in my flannel sweats eating pie…