Driving through Cherokee Triangle, as I do most every day, I glance and smile upon Willow Park, with a special nod to the gazebo. Whether it’s in dappled summer sun or winter’s jagged silhouettes, the visually-pleasing gazebo is always on duty, surrounded by nature and offering a respite for strolling visitors.
The season of Sunday evening concerts brings out the best in our neighborhood. While early arrivals wait for the bright sun to sink behind the west point of the park’s towering sycamores, the bed of a pick-up truck fills with donated canned food as the grass disappears under blankets. Music lovers are patient as they slowly make their camps before the first riff. By dark, the fireflies power up and it’s time to go home.
Motoring or walking down Cherokee Parkway during Monday evening rush hour, you can almost hear those accordions from the night before, squeezing out a waltz at dusk. The memory is fond and the next weekend brings it all back again, from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
When I see the gazebo standing alone, it is exceptionally sweet, if not bitterly so, in these days following the too-soon departure of Tim Krekel. At the 4th of July gathering, his absence was as noticeable as his presence was palpable.
When Tim performed, the crowds would overflow past the sidewalks. Even those who could barely shuffle by day shook their tail feathers by the encore.
Tim ... with the guitar that howled and words that soothed ... a flashing grin and a sporty hat ... a hug. Those nuances seem larger than life now.
We continue to gather, however, right around suppertime. And through the lawn chairs, baskets of food, and dancing children and couples, there is still a silence that asks for a place of its own.
We’ve all settled into the idea that Tim will not return physically to the gazebo to perform for the crowd – to swap leads and jams with fellow musicians, or share a meal with friends and a few birds – but the park is having some trouble with it. His spirit lingers here among the trees, and chords that were struck for the last time still reverberate.
The gazebo serves as a touchstone for my memories of Tim Krekel and good times. It’s a righteous fit – the heart of Louisville in the heart of the park. Tim and the gazebo are sacred ground to this fan.
The remaining Sunday evening concerts, part of a series that Cherokee Triangle Association has assembled and nurtured since 1982, are dedicated to Tim.
Everything’s gonna be alright
I worked a deal out with the stars
They’re gonna leave on all their lights
And no matter where you are, I’m gonna make it
through the night