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Down Darby Lane

Magic, Music and the Mediterranean Sea

Darby Lee Patterson

It was a dream trip. A cruise around the Mediterranean with stops in ports I thought I’d only read about in glossy magazines. And though I have memories of remarkable places such as Pompeii, Mallorca, and the Barbary Macaques of Gibraltar, the experience that remains most indelible is time spent on the ship. I traveled with my then-boyfriend and a young man trying to forget a lost loved one.

She wasn’t a floating city with multiple decks and thousands of travelers. Ours was a Greek ship with three floors above the water and rooms for the crew and employees on the deck below the waterline. It was more like a small town than a metropolis of vacationers. Over the period of our two weeks at sea, we became familiar with each other, sharing a few words, clinking toasts over dining tables set with the ship’s signature china and silverware.

I became fast friends with the Romanian musicians – a portly, short accordion player, a lanky, nearly bald violinist, and a guitarist with a permanent smile for everyone. We invited them to our table many times and as a music lover, singer, and fellow violinist, I made it to their list of favorite fans. They taught me some words in Romanian and invited me to visit them in their homeland. We exchanged addresses.

Dinner was also a time to check out fellow travelers, to sum up their lives and relationships, to watch who drank too much of what, and also to estimate the cost of the elegant gowns worn by the women. The best up-close look was in the women’s restroom where the wall of mirrors was the main attraction. It was there that I spied an elegant tall woman who floated in wearing a simple, understated black evening dress, her ash blonde hair confidently pulled back and highlighting the face of a one-time model. Not a fashion model, I thought. Perhaps an artist’s mannequin. High cheekbones, large eyes the color of the sea, and porcelain skin delicately lined by time. She wasn’t smiling but there was a look of pleasure and disconnect on her face. A simple strand of diamonds shot off tiny sparks of brilliance. She wore no rings.

She didn’t bother to look into the mirrors but went about her business. I waited for her, for another glance. When she emerged from the stall, she went to wash her hands and turned. For a brief moment and with no exchanged expression, we caught each other’s eyes. The most interesting person on the ship, I decided.

Later that moonlit night, people migrated to the dance club where a jazz band played standards to bring guests out on the floor. At 50-something I was among the younger women on the ship. And after marching around on dirt and gravel at historic sites throughout the day, many of the wives were unwilling or unable to step out on the dance floor. But the older men who knew how to guide a partner skillfully around the dance floor were eager to foxtrot and waltz and display their grace. And, by default, they chose me. I did not decline a single invitation.

Eventually, my party migrated to the ship's Lounge and that’s where my most vivid memory of the voyage lives forever. The lights were dim and the atmosphere subdued. The accordion player was at the keys of a baby grand piano sending out gentle tunes. Couples leaned across small round tables and made promises to each other in whispers. We enjoyed a glass or two of wine. The fiddler and guitarist joined their colleague and then the trio turned to me, gesturing for me to also join them. I figured I’d had enough wine to make that possible. There, abandoning my fears and knowing I’d never see any of the people in the room again, I sang Maleguena in Spanish, backed by Romanian musicians on a Greek ship.

We ended to a round of applause and I remember gliding back to my table feeling other-worldly. I sat down and accepted the glass of Greek wine someone sent over for me. That’s when she walked from the dark end of the bar to our table, leaned over, and placed a swan-like hand next to mine. I smelled jasmine and whiskey. I looked up. She wore a hint of a smile. “My dear,” she said and paused, “If it was my week for girls, I’d choose you.” She rose like a monarch and drifted out the door.

The Parthenon, the Vatican. The Prado. All those famed port stops are faded like old postcards, while the colors of that evening when mystery met magic on a moonlit sea are bright as day.


Thanks for traveling with me this week. I always appreciate your time and responses. Readers like you keep people like me remembering, writing, and feeling inspired.

If you like my writing style please check the special on my eBook - The Song of Jackass Creek, for a limited time, it's is available for FREE HERE. And if you read my mountain mystery, kindly write a review on Amazon - it's one of few ways for indie publishers like me to succeed. I'm excited to have fabulous reviews averaging 4.7 to 4.9 stars!


Friends and Readers,

A note about most of us, for better and worse, in the Arts. I think we long to share our thoughts and creations - and without you, we are lonely. Imagine, you wrote a beautiful piece of music and no one but you (and perhaps your cat) ever got to hear it. Or painted a picture that no one else but you ever saw, or wrote a story that no one but you read. Sharing is everything for people in the arts and your support is fundamental to the continued creativity of all artists. So, Thank you! 

Hey! Check out this awesome article by popular columnist Ed Goldman - it's about moi! Also subscribe to his clever, witty and smart blog!  

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My Mountain Mystery

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If you are fond of 'cozy' mysteries please read The Song of Jackass Creek. Check out Reviews HERE.

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Sample Amazon Reviews

This is an excellent writer!

Darby Patterson is truly a talented writer. She describes this little town sweetly without boring the reader with unimportant detail, and her descriptions are vivid. She also develops her characters fully through conversation and action so the reader becomes acquainted with the main players and can form pictures of them early in the book. Her characters' thoughts, interactions, and past activities combine to portray the culture of Redbud throughout the story, and the story itself is creative and holds surprises along the way. I too hope Ms Patterson continues to share her talents with us!

Sondra Jensen

Awaiting the next installment

An invitation to linger in this vanishing part of California which has so much history is writ on every page of this book. I've visited places like Redbud with a creek burbling in the background as gentle breezes sough through the pines and cedars. I've found them quaint and rich with fascinating local lore and history. Jesse, as publisher of the local weekly is very nicely sketched, the authors background as a journalist comes through clean and clear in developing him. This small California mining and logging town scrabbling to hang on, I liked very much as a setting. I wouldn't mind sitting down with Jesse and having a beer and help him solve his next mystery. The test of a good book is whether you'd be willing to read it again, later. This book passes that test and I can't wait for the next installment.

Jack Howard


Please let this be the first of a series!

Wonderful book; adult without being ‘R’ rated, complex story and well developed characters. The people of ‘Redbud’ ring true and, as a native Californian, the lumber, real estate and politics are spot on. I hope this is the beginning of a series because the author has created characters you want to know better.

D. Holmes

My other passion
Sculpting for bronze - See more HERE
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