Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Paw Dirt Doggies - Stomp Your Feet

We had another amazing old time dance at the Liberty grange last Saturday. Four fiddlers, three git-fiddles, a mandolin, piano, concertina, and spoons. Two callers and a big crowd of rowdy laughing dancers from ages 18 months to 77 years.

I had a blast harmonizing with the fiddles on my concertina, and playing the spoons. I learned the hard way that my new lighter-weight jeans are not so good for backstopping the spoons. Even though my playing spoons are wooden, my legs were on fire!

In spite of jet lag from his return trip from Armenia, Mike couldn't resist an old time dance that was right in our neighborhood. He wandered over for some visiting, relaxing with old friends in the chairs along the wall or standing in the corner close to the food and drink. I even got him out on the floor for a waltz.

Being in the grange reminded me of the old-time dances we had in Imnaha, many miles upriver from town. There is something comforting about the fact that many of the grange halls have the same building design. A big staircase and porch leading upstairs to the big hall with high ceilings and stout well worn wooden floor lined with chairs along the walls, rows of narrow double-hung windows, and a small stage, a coat room and a storage closet. Downstairs is a cavernous basement with many long tables for dining, several wood cookstoves, a couple electric or gas cookstoves, kitchen sinks and cupboards, and bathrooms (if you're lucky).

At Liberty, the outside stairs and landing are walled in to fend off winter gales and blizzards, with a recently added curtain of deer fence over the entrance to keep out the varmints, pigeons, etc. On Saturday night,  the black mesh deer fence was hoisted up to allow us inside and walking under it made me feel like I was entering some kind of medieval fortress that had raised its portcullis.

It is a tremendously good feeling to be able to gather people together for music and dance in a building that was built a couple generations back by some of the great great grandparents of people still using it. One of the things I love most about the grange halls is that they are often located out on the prairie, or up the creek, or tucked in the hills, where farmers and ranchers can be the hosts, welcoming their neighbors, welcoming folks from town, welcoming anybody intrepid enough to make the trek, homing in on the faint lights of windows peeking out of the darkness at the end of a bumpy gravel road.

From Sara at Magpie Ranch, home of Bunchgrass Beef