Solstice Celebration of Hope
Around the time that the Judeo-Christian world turns its attention to its spiritual winter celebrations, the ancient cultures before them turned their attention to the Winter Solstice, the shortest light day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. Not to let any tradition or custom fade away in a few thousand years, a contemporary group of Northwest inhabitants still celebrate the lengthening of days and the launching of winter activities.
In what is proving to be an annual event, the residents of Hope, Idaho, along with a few strays from surrounding communities, gather at the Outskirts Market Place for the Winter Solstice like moths attracted to a flame. Into the darkness of the late Idaho evening they come, bringing their own light, and placing hundreds of candles around the front of the building and last year cascading into the snowy street. This year, however, it was raining in Hope so the candles were consolidated under the porch covering, all cozily glowing together and throwing their light everywhere into the darkened space.
Spirits were not dampened by the weather and there was a glow of faces inside the Market where the participants were additionally bonded by the fact they were all survivors of the apocalyptic predictions of the Mayan Calendar. There is no lack of humor in Hope
Hope has long been the well-kept, secret bastion of an Art Colony and the Outskirts Market Place, or as some refer to it as it once was, The Old Hope Market, currently has on display the work of thirty or more artists representing a variety of genres. The artwork from the Annual Plein Air event to support Scotchman Peak is also represented on the Market’s walls.
However, this night artists of a different kind gathered. The musicians of Hope, many of whom are more than professional, came to the Market Place, instruments tucked under the arms and carried in by helping patrons. Bob Beadling, dressed in a bowler hat and velvet jacket, began the evening with an eclectic collection of well-executed piano pieces. His fingers literally danced across the keyboard, filling the room with warm traditional songs.
After Bob’s set, the Cougar Creek Band entertained with rousing, foot stomping folk music, a little rag time and some heart felt blues. The Cougar Creek Band began about four years ago when some folks got together at social events and started singing around Connie’s piano. Today, the members fluctuate depending on the season but include spouses and friends. The Heisel family was fully represented by Mother Linda on the accordion, son Joe playing trombone and father Mark Heisel playing everything from a washboard with finger picks to a trumpet. It was impossible to attend this function without grinning from ear to ear even though a small infusion of wine helped, along with hot chili and cornbread. The camaraderie warmed the heart and soul.
Out in the cars surrounding the Marketplace was also a collection of drums and guitars just waiting for an invitation to come in. Not everyone had time to join in. This was one of those rare occasions when it all ended too soon. Perhaps next year is the Idaho-Montana mantra.
Kally Thurman is the owner and organizer of events at the Outskirts Hope Market place. Skillfully she has put together a community gathering spot complete with a book section, WiFi and art lessons. A lovely new couple, Megan Cordero and her sidekick Tim, have taken over the cooking and are serving breakfasts, lunch and dinners. The menu and hours have thankfully been extended, as most the other establishments in Hope are either seasonal or succumbed tragically to the current economic downturn. In addition to the meals, the Market has also taken to selling some organic vegetables and other items. Off to the side of the restaurant is a Free Trade Gift Shop ran by Vera Gadman. The Hope Market Place, café and art gallery should be on everyone’s “don’t miss” list.
What a way to end one year and begin another. Dusk to Dawn with candles and song surrounded by a creative diversity of friends and family. The lengthening of light in the days ahead and the warmth of the Hope community all gathered together in harmony. Hope is not only the name of the town, it is what resides in the residents' hearts.