I just got back from spending several days in Vermont with Quena and having an absolutely lovely time. The excellence included, but was not limited to, the following:
Really, it doesn't matter where I'm going. Quena's been my best friend for 12 years, and spending time with her is always the most wonderful part of such a trip.
I was in Vermont for four nights, and danced on every single one of them -- three contras and one English. The contra dance scene out there is fantastic, with lots of fun dancers of all ages, and music that just blew me away. I think my favorite night was probably the Brattleboro dance, with music by Ethan Hazzard-Watkins, Anna Patton, and Peter Barnes. I love Anna's clarinet playing especially, and there were lots of good dances that beautifully matched the music (and vice versa). The Saturday Greenfield dance was also excellent, and I really liked Clew Bay's music, their 10-year-old drummer, and the surprise extra lindy hop at the end.
On the gray and rainy Saturday morning, Quena and I went to the Scott Farm apple orchard, which was delightful. We spoke with a guy who looked like some craggy old wild man of the mountains, but who turned out to be extremely sweet and as enthusiastic about his apples as a wine connoisseur. He sold us a bunch of Calville Blanc d'Hiver apples for our pies, which "sparkle, like champagne." We also got an assortment of other varieties for applesauce, including Cox's Orange Pippin, Red Spy, Empire, and others I don't remember.
These apples inspired a great deal of our cooking, baking, and eating for the rest of the trip. We made a full size apple pie, and 10 mini pies in muffin tins (which we took to the Saturday dance to share with friends and with the band). We also made 5 jars of applesauce (some with ginger), and apple-onion crepes. And there were still enough for me to bring a bag home. Yum!
(We also baked other things that didn't involve so many apples, like a cabbage pie for dinner. That was the same day we made all the apple pies. I kept inadvertently mis-quoting Lt. Worf: "It is a good day to pie!")
On Sunday the sun came back and we went hiking around Kilburn Pond in the Pisgah State Park (in New Hampshire). We had to wear special "don't shoot me I'm not a deer" colors, since it's hunting season, but we had no encounters with either the hunters or the hunted. The woods are gorgeous, and I loved my first taste of the fabled New England fall colors. My favorites, though, are the evergreens that still pop up to accent all the bright oranges, yellows, and reds.
One afternoon, Quena and I were in the co-op buying more supplies to help us bake all our apples, and she pointed out that Keith Murphy (of Nightingale) had just walked into the store. I'm a big fan of him and the band, so I allowed myself a moment of fan-boy excitement before deciding not to bug him, and just let him buy his groceries in peace.
Shortly after that, we ran into a friend of Quena's, made some introductions and small talk, then continued shopping. But then I heard behind us that the friend had also found Keith and started talking to him. She was saying something along the lines of "you probably don't remember me, but you stayed at my parents' house in New Mexico several years ago when you were on tour..." etc. So at that point I just had to go over and join in. "I hate to interrupt," I said, "but I couldn't help overhearing, and I wanted to mention that you also stayed at my parents' house about 12 years ago when you were playing some dances in Santa Cruz..." (it's true). He took it all very good humoredly, turning next to Quena, extending his hand, and asking "and when did I stay at your house?" I found it all highly amusing.
I'll wrap it up with one other funny story from one of my plane flights. Lots of the Delta employees were wearing pink shirts for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. One of the stewardesses also made an announcement to say that they'd be selling pink lemonade to raise money "for breast research." There was general laughter until one of the co-stewardesses nudged her to correct herself and clarify that it's breast cancer research.
Anyway, it was a wonderful trip all around, and you can see a few pictures here. And now I'm home.