Sunday, April 5, 2009

Fun and (Highland) Games

Yesterday was the long-awaited Bakersfield Highland Games. I must confess, not even the excitement of attending my first games for the year could assuage that awful pre-dawn moment when I knew I had to get out of bed, but it was all uphill from there. It really could not have been a more perfect day. Tehachapi Mountain Pipes and Drums was the host band, which, to speak for the band, was a lot of work and, to speak for myself (a minor go-fer), fun. The host band, as one of our members acertained, is the one that buys the pizza, but the great minds among us also organized the piping competition, spent two days helping with the general set-up (can anyone explain what is so easy about an EZ-Up tent?) for the games, and picked out another round of the infamous bobble-head trophies: (Below: another angle of the bobble-heads' spiffy parade formation)
(Below: Setting up the real pipers for massed bands at the noon opening ceremonies. Massed bands=sort of like Russian roulette with the bagpipes. That is to say, if you are short and in the back, you have a fifty-fifty chance of guessing correctly whether the drum major signaled to end the tune at the end, or to repeat the whole thing. Not that I would know. Yes, I will listen with a good deal more attention the next time the instructions are given pre-attack.)

The weather was superb; a bit hot in the sun, to be sure (and there was plenty of sun) but a perfect day for a chat in the shade. Somebody across the street from the band tents had an orange tree in blossom in their yard, and the spicy-sweet smell alone was worth the drive.

As far as general reporting goes, that is about it. The piping and ensuing camraderie was so delightful that I saw less of the games in general than I ever have, opting to stick around the band tents most of the time. I even missed browsing through the book vendors' tent for the first time I remember (though I am sure my pocketbook is the better for it). I vastly enjoyed the solo competition; I recently switched to Balance Tone reeds for my drones and they have made a world of difference in the way the pipes handle. Murphy's Law did kick in and no matter how nicely I had the pipes going while I was warming up, the drones were out of tune when it actually came time to knuckle down and play for the judge, but playing-wise, they still felt awfully nice.

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