Sunday, October 19, 2008

It's A Hoe Down

Surprisingly enough, my knees don't feel too bad this morning. We went square dancing last night. Haven't done that in more than a few decades.

Adam, a friend of our daughter (the one in boot camp), is a junior transfer to Syracuse this year. He is one of twelve children from a small farm community just northeast of Binghamton. While at SU he is attending our church through one of our supported youth outreach ministries - Campus Bible Fellowship. A few weeks ago he invited us to a square dance that his parents hold twice a year on their farm, once in the spring and another in the fall.

In preparation for the festivities, yesterday morning I stopped at Leubner's Apple Farm to pick up a few fresh baked apple pies (snuck in an apple fritter for the road too). Can't remember when, but somewhere I remember hearing that you can't go to a square dance without bringing a pie.

Once you get away from the major upstate NY cities strung out along the I-90 and I-81 highways, there isn't much else but farms and forests. It took us about an hour to drive to the huge barn that Adam's parents have next to their house.

The farm is about two miles down a dirt road located off a minor well paved highway. From I-81 you travel east and then south about fifteen miles and see only a few homes; you pass though a small village that doesn't have a stop light. There is only one stop sign the entire way.

We left the house at about 6 pm so the sun was already starting to go down. When we pulled up at the barn an hour later it was completely dark and the temperature hovered right around freezing. The barn was large (five bays wide at least) and all lit up. There had to be seventy people either dancing or watching the activities.

There were several tables lined up in the rear of the barn, all covered with various snacks, finger foods and beverages. I stuck the apple pie near some donuts. Next to the tables was a car covered in a blue tarp. The rear end stuck out a few inches and I could see that it was a late 60's Pontiac. Adam's parents introduced themselves and asked who we were. Adam was dancing and waved.

Almost all the dancers were either teens or in their early twenties. Just a few were wearing a sweater or a jacket. Many of the young girls were barefoot. Did I say it was chilly? I could see my breath.

I am not much of a dancer, never have been. But I grit my teeth and we joined a square. The caller was very good, very patient and tried to explain every dance. The wife and I know "do sa do" and "swing your partner" from grade school. Everything else was a disaster. I thought allemande was where Rommel got his ass kicked in North Africa. Then I thought he called something about marmalade and we were completely lost. But we got though that sequence without humiliating ourselves completely.

Now it is time for refreshments. Ten minutes later it is time to dance, but now it is line dancing. Adam's mom says "This is for the young people" as Cotton Eyed Joe blares out of the speakers. She asks about our daughter in boot camp and we provide the details of our upcoming trip to Missouri. We talk for some time about the farm and our families. Most of her children are in the barn. She has wonderful kids - all home schooled.

The sequence is now made clear. A half hour of square dancing and ten to fifteen minutes of refreshments and socializing. The snacks are disappearing from the tables and our pie goes the way of all pastries.

Forty or so people are line dancing. I stay on the sidelines talking to Adam's mom who is holding her youngest, a 21 month old little girl, if I recollect her name is Sara. Sara hands me her cup of water and I have to take care of it for a while. I give Sara my empty cup of soda and she hangs on to it for a while. Pay back is sweeeet...

There is a rest and refreshments time out and I find myself talking to Adam's dad again. The Pontiac under the blue tarp belongs to his nephew and has been in his barn for the past five years. Time to dance again.

Now the caller is trying to hurt us. I think he is making this stuff up as he goes along just to mess with us. But we are all game and off we go. At least we are moving 'cause it is getting cold. I hold some girl's hand in a allemande and it is like I grabbed a cold dead fish. The teens are hopping up and down trying to get warm but they don't put their shoes or their sweaters on. I think my nose is running but by now I don't care.

The last dance is something called a "six and two" and the allemande left with a half swing is our undoing. No one gets it. We promenade instead and then just swing. I got a little dizzy and my knees are killing me. But we had a lot of fun and it was a great way to spend an evening.

Time to go home. My bride's teeth are chattering and she can't feel her feet. We got an hour ride ahead of us. Adam's dad passes the hat for the caller. We say our goodbyes.

Both on the way down and returning home we see a lot of deer. So many in fact that I drive slower because I am concerned that one will come running out of the dense cover that lines the roads and I won't be able to stop in time.

Adam invited me to hunt down here when the season opens. I haven't gone deer hunting in years and I just may take him up on it.

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