Tortilla face: Notes from fiddle camp

The mom from a neighboring camp site looked relieved to see us, but what she said next was no comfort. “Anthony! Connor’s in your tent, screaming!”

I looked up from Aster’s violin case. Aster was packing up her violin after she had just finished a spot of jamming with her mama (and she even set up her own violin). Surrounding us, a bunch of adults and older kids were all jamming away on fiddles, guitars, mandolins, and basses, in the cafeteria at the former Westridge School in Westfir, Oregon, site of the West Cascades Fiddle Camp & Workshops (http://fiddlecamp.org/), sponsored by the Oregon Oldtime Fiddlers’ Association (http://www.ootfa.org/). About 200 of us were camped out in a big field in front of a former school. All week, while Jodie taught fiddle classes the kids had been romping with other children, and I’d been taking Connor and Aster on various river, fish hatchery, and hiking adventures.

“Do you know what’s wrong?” I asked the mom.

“No,” she replied. “He’s just been yelling for you for a while now.”

Jodie and I nodded to each other, knowing at a glance that each one knew what to do. While Jodie and Aster packed up, I followed the mom out of the cafeteria and toward the big field covered with tents, RVs, and campers.

It was around 10:15 p.m. on the last night of fiddle camp. Most children were in bed, and about 20 minutes earlier we’d left Connor in his sleeping bag with a tortilla, good-night kisses, and his understanding of where to find us.

Connor is a pretty chill kid at bedtime, and it’s been a long time since he’s so much as woken up yelling from a bad dream. As I ran to the tent, I tried to think about what could have had him yelling for me. Nightmare? Feeling ill? Did something or somebody scare him? It had to be something pretty major for him to be shouting for us.

Arriving at the tent, I kneeled down and felt for the door’s zipper.

“Connor?” I said. “It’s Daddy. I heard you were yelling for me. What’s wrong?”

I opened the tent flap. Instead of being snugged up in his sleeping bag, Connor was sitting right at the doorway to the tent.

“Oh, hi Daddy.” His eyes and voice were calm as can be.

“What’s wrong? One of the other campers said you were shouting and screaming for me. Are you hurt? Scared? Sick?”

He stared at me, his face a question asking why I was asking all these things.

“Oh, I’m fine,” he said.

Then he held up his tortilla. “I turned my tortilla into a mask, see?” He slapped the holey tortilla over his face. “That’s why I was calling for you. Will you please take a picture?”

As you can imagine, I’ll be busting out this story for the rest of his life. Especially when he’s a teenager and bringing a date home. Just you wait.

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