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Rosie The Guitarist

Rosie The Guitarist

Hello and good day!

Rosie woke up early on Sunday morning.

She wanted to go shopping in the market before it got too crowded.

Sunday was market day in her small Peruvian town, the day when farmers came in from the countryside to sell their crops, handmade wares, and livestock.

The best meat and produce of the week were available on Sunday, but as the day went on and the town's residents awakened from their Saturday night revelry, the three-block stretch of street designated and barricaded for the market became a disorganized throng of humanity.

Not to mention that the choicest offerings would disappear an hour after the market's opening.

It was bright and sunny when she left her house.

She first walked by the livestock market, a large dirt field, filled with dairy cows and bulls, sheep, pigs, chickens, and stray dogs.

Farmers, both men and women, wearing tall, white, tightly woven straw hats typical of the region, stood barefoot on the dirt field restraining their animals with rope.

Although she grew up in a small town that was surrounded by farmland, she had never lived or worked on a farm.

She had studied music at a university in the nearest big city.

As a student she played guitar and sang in bars and coffee shops to make extra money.

That was before she met her husband Ishmael.

Shortly after meeting Ishmael, she became pregnant with their first child.

She and Ishmael married, and soon thereafter, Rosie dropped out of school to become a stay-at-home mom. Ishmael had a good job as the foreman of a local cheese factory, and he and Rosie raised 4 children together.

From time to time, on special occasions, Rosie would still play the guitar and sing one of her old songs.

As she walked by the livestock market, she wondered why the large, strong, animals allowed themselves to be restrained by human beings who are so much smaller and weaker.

She stood for a moment and watched a seemingly feeble old farm woman with a wrinkled brown face and long grey hair that hung down from underneath a tall white hat.

The old farm woman stood still and barefoot on the dirt, holding one end of a rope that was looped around the neck of a gigantic, black, thick necked, long horned bull. Instead of making a run for it, the bull stood docilely, and that was something Rosie was never able to understand.

The sidewalk leading from the livestock market to the outdoor market was covered in speckles of dark green cow droppings.

This was the path along which farmers had made their way, through the dark of the very early morning, from their farms to the dirt field, with their animals in tow.

When Rosie made it to the open market, she stopped to look at onions, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and peas.

The produce was laid out on blankets on either side of the street, with farm women, in their tall hats, sitting on stools behind the mounds of fruits and vegetables.

In the middle of the street there were food carts selling cookies, cakes, boiled quail's eggs, oatmeal, and fresh squeezed fruit juice.

After Rosie had gathered what she needed into her cloth shopping bag, she headed for the shop of her favorite butcher.

His shop was indoors, on a corner at the far end of the outdoor market.

While she was walking down the street towards the butcher, a flower vendor called out from the other side of the road.

"Flowers! Fresh flowers from the countryside!"

Rosie looked across the market and saw buckets on the ground, filled with freshly cut flowers and roses. One of the buckets caught Rosie's eye.

They were a creamy yellow orange and they reminded her of the roses that Ishmael had given her on their first date.

Rosie walked across the street to the flower vendor and bought a single rose.

She asked the flower vendor to cut down the rose's stem, and then she stuck the rose through her thick, wavy, black hair so that the rose rested on her ear.

At the butcher, Rosie bought a cut of meat that was hanging from a long hook screwed into the ceiling and hanging down over the butcher's counter.

Her shopping done, Rosie walked back past the livestock market on her way home. It was fuller and muskier than when she'd walked by earlier in the morning.

The day had become hotter, and Rosie began to sweat lightly.

Through the rest of the morning and into the early afternoon, Rosie cooked lunch for her family.

Sunday was a family lunch day.

In the middle of the same afternoon, I was walking through the outdoor market with my family, when my son urgently needed to use the bathroom.

There are no public restrooms in the outdoor market, and we were twenty blocks from my father in law's house.

"Let's go to Rosie and Ishmael's. They are friends of the family, and their house is only 5 or 6 blocks away," said my wife.

We hustled down the green speckled sidewalk, through the livestock market, and made it just in time.

"Why don't you stay a while?" said Ishmael, after my son had finished using the restroom.

"Are you sure? We don't want to be an inconvenience," I said.

"It's no problem," said Ishmael.

Rosie was in the kitchen washing all of the dishes from the family lunch.

My family and I, Ishmael, his two daughters, and their three little kids lounged in the living room.

The adults chatted and the children played.

Rosie came in, wiping her hands on an apron.

"Why are you two just sitting there? Bring some sodas for our visitors," she said to her daughters.

The two daughters obediently got up off the couch and returned two minutes later with a tray full of small glasses filled with Coca Cola.

Rosie was in the kitchen still, washing and washing.

Ishmael called out to her.

"Rosie my love! Why don't you sing a song for us?"

"Yes mom! Sing! Please!" yelled the daughters.

Rosie turned off the sink and came into the living room.

"There is still so much to do. I don't have time," said Rosie.

"Just one song. Gracias a la vida," said Ishmael.

The corner of Rosie's eyes wrinkled while she looked at her husband.

"Ok. But just one song," said Rosie.

She turned to bring her guitar.

"Dear?" said Ishmael.

Rosie turned to look and raised her eyebrows.

"Put the yellow rose back in your hair. Like you used to when we met," said Ishmael. Rosie found her rose on the dining room table and put it in her hair.

She grabbed her guitar and pulled up a chair in the living room.

We watched while she tuned her instrument. Then she leaned back in the chair and closed her eyes.

She held the neck up high and the body down low.

When she began to play and sing, her deep lusty voice filled the room, and I felt the air come out of my lungs.

My mouth hung open and I couldn't move.

I felt immobile, stuck to the sofa cushion, as if I had been lulled into a trance.

She sang Gracias a la vida by Violeta Parra, which is one of the most beautiful songs that you will ever hear.

I am already running long, otherwise I would include the lyrics here.

Rosie put on a completely unexpected virtuoso performance for us.

Here is why I share this story with you.

To everybody who saw Rosie that day, she was just another woman out doing Sunday shopping.

Nobody who doesn't know her well would ever guess that she has this unbelievable skill and talent.

I've come to think that this is true of most people.

All the people you see out and about living life, who on the surface don't appear to be anything special, probably have some hidden skill or story or experience in them that would blow your mind if you found out about it.

And one of life's great pleasures is when people are willing to share their gift with you.

Thank you so much for your time today.

I hope that you have a truly blessed day.


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