Harmonica Heaven

Yellow Pine’s Festival History

Story and Photos by T.S. Alvarez

It’s just after 6:00 a.m. on Sunday, August 5, the last day of the 2018 Yellow Pine Music and Harmonica Festival. I’m standing outside my camper, brushing my teeth. There is a blanket of silence over the community. Very few people are moving. I notice sunlight emerging just over my right shoulder. Sunrise took place earlier, but now the warmth and light creep over the hills and weave through the trees on the east side of the village, creeping toward the town center. I’m looking up at the sunlight breaking through tree branches, mindlessly working my toothbrush up, down, and sideways in my mouth. My gaze drifts onto something just a few yards off to my right. In the yard next door, just off Yellow Pine’s main street, a man stands, bending backwards at the waist, holding a bottle of whiskey in one hand, a cigarette in the other. He’s nicely outlined by the backlighting of sunlight coming through the forest that highlights the stream of urine arching out from him onto the ground at his feet. He stands in the wide-open layout of the neighborhood, oblivious to anyone or anything other than his present task.

I’m frozen for a moment or two, as toothpaste and saliva drip from my gawking mouth. I look around to see if anyone else is watching. The man finishes, zips up his pants, and hurriedly walks the dirt road to the tavern with the bottle in one hand, cigarette in the other.

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T.S. Alvarez

About T.S. Alvarez

T.S. Alvarez is an eight-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force and a graduate of the University of Alaska, Anchorage, where he studied art, photography, and journalism. Born in Los Angeles, he lived most of his life in Alaska and is a former newspaper photojournalist who now lives in Boise.

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