Friday night L and I went to see the Cashore Marionettes. This guy … here’s the thing, the man’s found his element and his calling. He loves to make marionettes and tell stories. I’m sure there are other things he loves, but for thirty years he’s been performing, and it was sweet and charming and heartbreakingly sad from sketch to sketch.

Mr. Cashore is not necessarily a born public speaker. He resembles nothing so much as an elementary school teacher who is getting in front of the class to announce that pizza day is being cancelled, announces the name of the sketch and the marionette’s name (when applicable), and then walks offstage while the lights go out.

When the lights come back up, there he is in full view – but you don’t see him, because there’s a perfect little person, or horse, or elephant coming up to his shins, and they move so strangely and yet so well. It’s a queer thing to watch, and even stranger to see these little anecdotes played out without words, knowing what is happening and being absolutely charmed into silence.

If you tend to the geeky as well, you do start watching him eventually – noticing that he hangs some strings on his pocket when they’re no longer needed, seeing that the armature telescopes when need be and ratchets back at other times, watching him as he watches the puppets and minds their strings.

If you tend to the performing side of things, you notice more. You’ll see that every sketch shows off some new stunt or trick that the marionettes can do, from wiggling individual fingers to grasping and moving real items. It keeps people engaged without knowing why, and just brought gasps of delight from a crowd of people spending their Friday evening watching puppets.

It wasn’t a big crowd, but I got the feeling that was okay by him. Myself, I’m both envious of him and charmed by him – that he’s found this place, this thing that he does, and has embraced it and worked to master it, searching not for fame or money but to all inents and purposes, simply because it is what he loves so dearly.

That’s powerful juju right there. So thanks, Mr. Cashore, from a little bordertown by the lakes. You absolutely made my evening.