It was our third seat selection of the evening; a booth with a thick wooden table and high-backed hard oak seats. Above the table was an old stained glass lamp with the light bulb untwisted creating a dark corner for us to enjoy our drinks. The five of us were crammed into our cozy new home with my two sisters and I on one side, and their boyfriends across from us. We decided on this seat due to its close proximity to the band and the bartender.
The Cabbage Shed sits on the shore of Frankfort Bay in Elberta, MI which is along Sleeping Bear National Lake Shore. The seats, floors, walls, and support structures are all bare wood as if the builder gathered a bunch of drift wood together in order to have a place to drink. Outside, Lake Michigan had recently finished with pouring itself over the coast in the form of four fresh inches of snow. Inside smelled like damp rubber with a pinch of salt, mixing perfectly with the wood and beer making up the place. Looking around at the other patrons it was easy to see who the townies were, and who just happened to be visiting, by what they wore on their feet. If your hometown averages more than ten feet of snow per year, there is no time to waste with a clean pair of sneakers or heals. Heavy winter boots clomping around provided an appropriate accompaniment to the musical act of the evening.
A four piece set played mostly bluegrass and it featured a fiddler. Nothing quite sets the mood for tipping back locally brewed beer in a rustic wooden establishment like the sound of a fiddle. The gentleman wore a snug gray suit vest over a pressed light blue shirt, a tweed flat cap, and dark trousers. All the band members were nicely dressed, but the fiddler’s mix of the vest and flat cap made him stick out—the fiddle was a factor as well I suppose. All those paying attention to the music added a slow swinging nod of their heads to the foot tapping. Looking around I understood the meaning of the word merriment.
Almost on cue, with good music present and two pints in the belly, I heard my sisters challenge each other. “I’ll dance if you do.” The time period between the first mention of dancing and actually getting up to move is approximately one more beer and this time it was no different. Off they went, my two sisters, the lone couple on the dance floor, swinging and stomping in the blue grass. Nothing puts a smile on a man’s face quite like seeing the ladies who are dear to him dance. There is an inkling that all is right in the world.
I looked around and noticed the faces of the other patrons were wearing the same smile I was. All of us buried in snow, out after a long week of work, sharing drinks, and enjoying the lives we have been given. Right now they were smiling, and a lot of them had a grin because of the two slightly intoxicated girls dancing in front of the band. I made a silent toast to them all as I took another drink.