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A wee bit o' the olde country

This is a discussion on A wee bit o' the olde country within the A Kodak Moment: not necessarily plants... forums, part of the Orchid Photography category; I stayed over Friday with my Maine friends Joanie and her 16-yr old daughter Avens. ...

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  1. #1
    Piper's Avatar
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    Default A wee bit o' the olde country

    I stayed over Friday with my Maine friends Joanie and her 16-yr old daughter Avens. Avens lost her dad in a car accident in late May, and Joanie, who was also in the car, is only just healing from her injuries.

    The first photo is Avens and Patrick both top Grade 1 competitors in the Eastern U.S. - that's the highest amateur grade, having some piping fun. They were just fooling around, but the caliber of their playing is phenominal.

    In the second photo, Patrick is competing in his march. We actually have to march when performing a march - back and forth under the watchful eyes and ears, of the judge. Patrick took two 2nd's yesterday, and Avens took two 3rds!

    In the third photo, two grade 2 competitors are waiting for their turn to compete. Seated is Steve McPherson on the right, his son Grant, and Joanie, Avens' mom on the left.

    When performing, you have to play the pipes beforehand to settle the reeds. It takes about 5-10 mins until they stabilize and will hold their tuning. Then you retune and are ready to go. When you compete in multiple events, you're constanting running off to some corner away from other pipers to resettle the reeds and retune, just before you go on.

    The fourth photo is of Willa doing just that. Willa was cleaning up in Grade 4 Jr. (under 18) in 2004 when I was cleaning up in Grade 4 Sr. She's done very well since and is now playing in Grade 2 and I believe she won some medals yesterday. I moved up last year into Grade 3, but having missed almost the entire season because of my knee replacements last winter, and again this year because of the finger injury, I'll be hoping to make something of it next year.

    More photos coming...

    Julie
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    There are a number of teens who have moved up through the grades together and are now in Grades 1 and 2. I call them the 'Rat Pack.' They're always hanging out with each other and helping one another with tuning and pipe adjustments. They're competitive and care about doing well, but are much less interested in beating one another. It's wonderful to see them interact.

    The first pic is some of the rat pack members. Willa on the left is a bit more timid, but Tami and Avens don't have a timid bone in them! Tami lost her mom to cancer 3 years ago. The cute guy in the Clark t-shirt is Avens' boyfriend, Ross and he's with his younger brother Carl.

    While there were no pipe band competitions yesterday, there were guest bands that played for the crowds. In the second photo one such band is warming up in the camping area of the park. The third picture is of another band playing for the spectators. Pipe bands are made up of bagpipes, snare and tenor drums and a bass drum. Bands will march on and off the field, but typically perform in a circle where they can better see and hear each other.

    I was listening to the solo piping most of the day, but did do a quick walk about to snap some other pictures. The final shot is of some Highland dancers waiting for the next dance event to begin.

    One last set of shots to go!

    Julie
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    Last edited by Piper; August 20th, 2006 at 04:11 PM.

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    Default Last Batch

    The atheletic events are big crowd pleasers. The events themselves grew out of military training exercises centuries back. The poor Highland farmers had little to train with, so they used rocks and tree trunks and farm tools to improvise contests of strength.

    The sheath toss is where a competitor uses a pitchfork to throw a pillowcase filled with straw high overhead, and clear a bar. Like a high jump, the height is increased until someone wins.

    The first photo shows a successful toss, with the sheath at the height of its path at the very top of the picture.

    The best known event is the caber toss. The caber is essentially a telephone pole. The pole is raised on end by an official. The competitor must lift it and balance it, as in the second shot. Usually taking a few running steps while still balancing it upright, the competitor then hurls the pole forward usually with an ursine grunt. The object is to spin it mid-air so it bounces on end and falls forward directly away from you.

    Picture a pencil as a caber. You have the eraser end and want to fling the pencil so that it bounces off its point and falls forward and lands with the eraser pointing to twelve o'clock. The level of competition yesterday wasn't the greatest - these are a smaller games - so many competitors couldn't even get the pole to bounce on end. As in the third shot. But one fellow tossed a perfect throw while we watched. The fourth picture is the winning toss just as the caber was bouncing.

    It's hard to get a real feel for the Games without the ever present sound of piping, but this is close!

    McJulie
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    Great photos and a wonderful story too. So nice to see people preserving some of humanity's history.

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    I never knew this world existed outside of Scotland itself. Fascinating! How do you all get involved in it? Is it a New England thing? Would you say that most participants have Scottish ancestry?

    That first picture is my fav: beautiful classic New England house with the eager young pipers in front. Wonderful!

    They have some kind of highland games out here in Estes Park every fall; you're making me want to go sometime. I wonder if it is a coincidence that the next activity well known there is the annual elk bugling? LOL!

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    Thanks, Diane and Mehera! It's pretty different from our baseball and backyard barbeques.

    Most piping competitions are held at Scottish games, or the less frequent Irish Feis (pronounced "fesh"). I attended my first only four weeks after starting lessons. I was enthralled! They're usually held in state parks, so there's lots of greenery and woods, and piping comes from everywhere! There's a practical reason: the bagpipes are loud, and to be able to hear yourself well enough to tune, and not interfere with the judges ability to hear a competitior, you have to range far and wide to find your own little spot. With potentially one or two hundred pipers, at a large games, that's a lot of acreage producing sound!

    It's still exciting to enter a park early in the morning, ready to kilt up and get to the competition routine; I put the windows down and drive towards the sound of the pipes - a thrill still courses through me as I hear it! I hope it always does!

    Mehera, here's the schedule of 2006 games in the West.
    http://www.wuspba.org/events.html
    You'll see the ones in CO. Follow the links of the game titles to get their specifics.

    Lots of people attend. Many non-Scottish. I think the sheep dog trials are my favorite, next to the piping, but they're only held at the larger games. And that's not to say there aren't greasy food vendors and some amount of cheesey tourist tack. But I think you'll find that anywhere. If you'd like to check it out, look at their schedule and see when massed bands are. It's usually on the Sat if the games are more than one day, and it's often held at both noon and five pm.

    If there are pipe bands competing, the bands do a spectator event called 'massed bands.' The bands will march onto the playing field in waves, each wave playing a different tune. Then when they're all assembled they'll march and counter march on the field playing the same tune. The first time I saw it there were nearly 1,000 pipers and drummers, and I had tears in my eyes, I was so excited! The first time I played in massed bands, I didn't even know what I was playing, I was so mesmerized - but I know it wasn't what the others were playing!

    Definitely go - it's an experience!

    Julie

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    Thanks for introducing me to all of this Julie! I find it very interesting

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    There's a games in Sarasota in Feb, I believe, Aaron. If you'd like, I can PM you the info. I've often thought of coming down and visiting my parents at that time, and playing in the games.

    Julie

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    Very nice, Julie! Thanks for sharing the pictures and the experience!

    I watched a travel show on PBS a while back about traveling in Scotland. The show detailed very similar games. I like it very much. I traveled around England and Scotland when I was still a graduate student along time ago. Your pictures and the travel show remind me so much of a great memory and experience.
    Cheers. Hoa.

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    Thanks for sharing, Julie. It was quite a new treat!

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