Don’t know if that’s actually a word, but swathes of time tend to have a kind of permanence about them, like they’ll just go on forever. Whether it’s having a nice chuckle with your friends or stuck on your computer late at night just trying to get to the end of a project. Either way, almost without notice, that time passes, and first thing you know a number of years has suddenly gone by and those moments hang together as a memory like a freestanding piece — a season.
One of my own favorite seasons is the time I spent at the Teaneck Creek Conservancy and in the Puffin Foundation building. If you don’t already know, both of these venues are a product of the artistic vision of Perry Rosenstein.
My own activities on that property were wide-ranging, from wading into the creek with hip boots to pull out branches, to shooting video of an eco-artist installation, to watching a great concert in the Puffin Room, usually with friends I had met there. On Earth Day it was great fun for me to play 12-string electric guitar by all those wonderful sculptures as my wife, Deb, sang those jazzy little tunes.
It was a kind of Friday night ritual for Perry and Gladys to sneak in under the radar to enjoy the evening’s scheduled event at Puffin. I vividly remember their smiling faces, as if they were on some kind of a date.
In 2010 Perry Rosenstein extended his generosity to me by underwriting my Songwriter’s Workshop via the Puffin Foundation. Like a ripple, after the official course was run, the group moved to the corner of the parking lot to jam and to exchange ideas under the morning shade. Like an additional ripple, from that group I struck up a friendship with a young budding songwriter of 74. Ten years later, we have logged many hours together in team-like fashion, putting my music editorial skills to good use.
What might have seemed like a small action to Perry Rosenstein still is reverberating today, and it is very consequential to me and my artistic trajectory. In effect, he created a season — a foreverness that I am certain has been the case many times over, all with wonderful stories behind them.
Over time, I was fortunate to have a few great private moments with Perry, where the topics ranged from his involvement knocking on doors to drum up support during the civil rights movement to an observation that as you get older most conversations turn to health.
From those chats, I’m now remembering that Perry’s favorite singer/songwriter was Pete Seeger. The Byrds’ jangly version of “Turn, Turn, Turn” immediately comes to mind. Its Bible-inspired lyric, “To everything there is a season” is a hopeful message for the season that we all now find ourselves in.
To Perry Rosenstein: May his memory be for a blessing.
Joff Jones of Weehawken received a Puffin Foundation grant in 2010.