Things I’ll Miss – 2

Number two in the list of things I’ll miss about Pittsburgh…

Hartwood Acres – My husband and I spent so many summer Sunday evenings here. We’d pack up our captain’s chairs, fill up the cooler with contraband cocktails, and head out to hear some terrific, free music. We’d always choose a spot in the back, outside of the crowd (closer to the port-o-johns) and place the cooler between our chairs like it was an end table. Sipping on “lemonade” from thermal jugs with built-in straws purchased at Wal-Mart, capable of holding 32 ounces of whatever cocktail we’d conjured up that week. Usually margaritas, but once caipirinhas after husband had a work party at a Brazilian restaurant. Those were yummy, and lethal.

That will be forever remembered as my “Dancing Nancy” evening – Little Feat was playing that night and after 32 ounces of Brazilian sugar cane liquor, all I wanted to do was dance. And when “Dixie Chicken” came on? Forget it – I was a goner. By that time it was full on dark, so I hoped no one was really noticing me dance – just me and the fireflies, weaving around, drunk on summer. Afterwards I spent hours swinging upside down in the porch hammock after we got home. Good times.

I used to love just sitting in the captain chair and watch all the kids playing – tossing the football around, attempting to fly kites before it got too dark. I’d watch the high school girls trolling the crowd, looking for cute boys, all the while wearing shorts that were too tight. I’d feel really old right then. That voice inside would scold me for being judgemental toward those girls – “You’re showing your age Libby, remember when you used to do that in Myrtle Beach? Relax, let them be kids for Chrissakes.”

I loved all the doggies too – people would bring their pets to the shows, almost like they were showing them off. Hartwood was better than Westminster for watching doggies – you’d see lab puppies, Frenchies, Havanese, once even a mammoth, speckled Great Dane pulling his owner along. That dog looked like it needed a saddle.

People would either tailgate from their cars (Webers in tow) or some would go high class and have a full-on gourmet picnic complete with cheese and grapes and baguette (hiding the wine in a paper bag). We’d sit there enjoying the music (Robert Randolph and the Family Band, John Prine, Rosanne Cash, The Yardbirds, Lee Rocker), and as the alcohol took its effect, everything would take on a perfect, dreamy quality. The boat drink would combine with the hot summer air and the laughter. The dew would drop onto the grass as the sun set and the air grew cooler, the music would waft to the heavens on scents of grilled hotdogs, and the color of the air would go from bright blue, to pink and gold, to the deep purple of twilight. All would be perfect with the world, and for a moment, you’d really forget that you had to go back to work tomorrow…

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