November in New England, dark gray trees silhouetted against stark gray skies – there’s something invigorating in the vision, as if we are storing up energy for the winter ahead. Come March and the image is wearying. We strain to see the tree tips showing a hint of red, and our own energy stores are depleted. But, like the maple trees, there is within us some sweetness which, properly tapped, will nurture us into the spring.
There’s a bit of folklore that once upon a time maple trees provided thick maple syrup year round. The People became complacent, neglecting their crops and community, and indulged themselves by lying beneath dripping maples with opened mouths. Glooskap (variously the son of Mother earth, or the first man, or the man from nothing) came across this situation and decided to force a modification of behavior. He diluted the syrup with water from the river, and made it so the sap would flow only once a year, forcing the People resuming a more structured existence of hunting, fishing, and growing crops.
Though the fantasy is enticing, mainlining maple syrup is indeed something that our inner Glooskap would not tolerate. Indeed, we seek out experiences that provide us with structure – something which in earlier times was provided by the simple requirements of day to day life. This might explain the appeal of dance forms which are rooted in form, (albeit with plenty of room for individual expression). And hence the exiting numbers of young people to be found at contra dances these days. The demographic for the new English dance series in Nelson is a bit older, but this could change as it becomes rediscovered.
The Monadnock Folklore Society is pleased to be doing its part in trying to keep the world together by sponsoring a number of local dances. The first Saturday of every month is the Peterborough contra dance, the second Saturday Nelson, and of course every Monday in Nelson. The new English Country Dance in Nelson is on a four-month plan (through May), with the idea that popular demand may call for its continuation. One of the great appeals for all of these dances is the music. If you are unable to dance, but want to come by any of these events just to listen, just let the person at the door know, and offer to make an appropriate donation.
This month’s English dance falls at the end of a wonderful weekend that starts on Friday, March 19th with a concert by Blue Moose and the Unbuttoned Zippers. Let’s face it, it would be foolish not to go to a concert with a band that has a name like that – it can’t help but be interesting. And we assure you, it will be, as they render a tunes informed by Scandanavian, Irish, American old time, reggae, jazz and bluegrass, with whatever refinements each of them might have gathered during their years at Berklee. Hot stuff.
Come to the Peterborough Historical Society on Saturday night as The Folkway Remembered series continues with a “coffeehouse” featuring various local musicians who once graced the Folkway stage. Also, note that the Folkway exhibit is now open Wednesday thru Saturday, 10 am to 4 pm, through the month of June. There are some great pictures, a couple of the old Folkway tables set up in front of a stage, and some wonderful audio, video, and print memorabilia. Check all of this out at the PHS web site.
Sunday, as mentioned, is the English dance in the Nelson Town Hall, starting at 2:00.