Frisco Christmas diary
Special to the Daily
The snow of the season has finally come ” the big one, the 4-footer. While we’re ecstatic, we’re also a trifle worried. It’s the first weekend of Frisco’s Old-Fashioned Christmas, and while I know that Santa and his reindeer can weather any blizzard, I’m worried, as usual, about my accordion.
My black-and-gold Stradivarius ” my favorite accordion of them all ” is also a bit temperamental, and tends to protest, with occasional groans, at the High Country’s more extravagant atmospheric conditions.
Tim’s verdict? Our big red umbrella, held high enough, will be just sufficient to protect the Strad against the thick, fat flakes pouring out of the generous winter sky.
My verdict? I’m just wondering if anyone’s going to be coming here, with I-70 transformed into one huge, glistening sheet of ice around the Eisenhower Tunnel.
We walk to Main Street, passing the Backcountry Brewery along the way, where someone has waggishly built a snowman holding a bottle of ” what else? ” Coors.
A few volunteer members from the Summit County Choir ” Gayle, Suzanne, Jim, Lin, Pam, Jack and Joni ” have been singing in front of the Frisco Historic Museum for a while. Since the pedestrian traffic today is nominal, due to the blizzard, I elect to spend most of the gig accompanying the choir, to the delight of us both.
As the singers and I launch into “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” I am reminded, as always, of the final scene of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” where Ernie the cab driver plays the accordion while the whole town sings.
As I’m lost in the magic of movie dejà vu, Tim breaks the spell by suggesting, to my horror, that we sing his favorite carol, “Oh Holy Night” ” which I’ve never played on the accordion before. Fortunately it falls under my fingers, and the choir performs it beautifully.
As Tim and I hike back home, we notice that the bottle of Coors has disappeared from the snowman’s tree-limbed grasp, reminding us that even being a snowman up here is, after all, thirsty work.
One week later, and our snow is nicely packed on the ground but no longer falling.
However, it’s five below zero this morning. While I’m piling on my three pairs of ski underwear and wriggling into my costume ” kind of like the kid in “A Christmas Story” who can’t move his arms, which would indeed hamper my skills on the accordion ” I call my mother in Atlanta and tell her that I’m going to be outside playing in the snow in below-zero temps. I revel in it, but she’s horrified.
As I leave my official performance headquarters, the Summit Daily News Corporate Suites, I remind myself that five below here won’t feel all that cold, because of the Colorado sun. However, a few steps outside convinces me that, while the sun may be shining elsewhere in Colorado, it’s decided to take the day off from Frisco.
I launch into “Sleighride,” and notice a remarkable tendency for my fingers not to be able to move very well.
Cody the Reindeer Handler is out here once again with Cupid the Reindeer, who not only accepts the accordion music, but even seems to be enjoying it. While I traipse back and forth in front of the ice sleigh at the gazebo, Cupid’s eyes meditatively follow me the entire time, as if she were trying to figure out just what it is I’m doing.
She even unbends enough to allow me to put my arms around her.
Cupid’s canine friend Yodi, on the other hand, views me rather contemptuously and, whenever I approach, starts digging frenziedly in the snow, perhaps contemplating an escape.
The choir is back again as well, and we decide to try the “Twelve Days of Christmas.”
We do fine until we get to the eleventh day, and then somehow we lose count, only coming together again at Five Golden Rings. After that we progress smoothly, and finish our set together with Silent Night, in both English and German.
There’s something about German Christmas carols played on the accordion that moves me unbearably, and I come close to tears, listening to the lovely voices singing the original words to the old carol, in the cold, thin air.
A few minutes later, my fingers start to freeze.
I’m wearing my cut-off gloves again, but in this kind of cold, they offer about as much warmth as a piece of toilet paper. As my left hand gets numb, I soon realize that I can’t feel any of the bass buttons on the accordion.
That’s when I go to Plan B ” serenading Santa as he sits on his throne inside the warm confines of the Frisco Museum.
While I’m there, I pose with my accordion next to the giant stuffed grizzly bear in the museum, so that Tim can take a picture. We decide to send it to my mother and tell her that I was outside in the cold, serenading God’s creatures in the forest.
Santa seems to enjoy the impromptu concert, which is most gratifying, and poses for a photo with me and Cupid outside.
It’s somehow a scene I never envisaged for myself ” me, with an accordion, standing amid three feet of snow in five-below-zero weather, right next to Santa Claus himself and Cupid the Reindeer. I can’t wait to call my brother back in Atlanta and tell him about it. It’s one for the record books, as far as I’m concerned ” and I chalk it up as yet one more reason that there’s no place like the High Country for the holidays.
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