January 31, 2014

Winter Concerts and the North Country

Lily and Orianna had their winter concerts these past two nights. I thought it was a little annoying they weren't on the same night. Then I saw how overflowing the parking lot was with just three grades and saw the wisdom of splitting it up. It was full. There is something so endearing about an elementary concert. All those little faces, shining with joy at being so important as to be On The Stage. Our auditorium is woefully small for the actual number of people that attend elementary programs. But then, it looks too large for other events. So they leave it as is and let the families that were silly enough to come at the "...have your child there no later than..." time stand wherever they can find an inch or two in the aisles or hallways.


Elementary concerts are marvelous. Each kid looking this way or that, waving fairly steadily out into the dark at everyone, bouncing, chatting, some being shy, most slightly off key, with a different tempo for each kid. But they all sing enthusiastically and are terribly thrilled at each burst of applause. And the first graders were even able to do the timing right with a lengthy pause and then starting up again at the right point, all at once. Which is the mark of a great music teacher.  Every fresh batch of kids brings out a riot of hand waving from the audience and kids, most calling their child's name and being as proud of the child they came to see as they can be. There is no reticence, no one is too cool to wave wildly or stand in everyone's way to get a picture. No one expects their child to demonstrate some amazing musical ability, they are just hoping he or she doesn't start picking their nose.


Lily is front and center in the gray. 

My little Peruvian, Orianna. 

Standing in the auditorium last night as people waited for the kids to come out, I knew exactly where I was. There are phrases, pronunciations, and mannerisms that you can see only in the north country. I can't even tell you what they are like. They just are. I have never fully identified myself as a North Country native, having moved here the summer before kindergarten. This wasn't just aloofness on my part. My sister Lindsey was at the end of first grade when we moved here. When she graduated as valedictorian, (I have smart relations) the mother of one of the third honors kids (wanting a promotion for her son) went to the school board and said that Lindsey should be disqualified, since she wasn't really part of the class--she hadn't been here since kindergarten. Seriously. No one was ever mean to us or treated us poorly because we were outsiders. We just were outsiders. We weren't related to anyone. We didn't know everyone's back story and no one knew our back story. All these years later though, this is home. I love these people. They aren't all as cultured as some college professor would define it. They aren't all as interested in the wider world as idealist young college students feel they should be. But they are (mostly) kind, unpretentious, and dependable. There is a lot of sordid life up here. This isn't some utopia, but it is a good place.

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