One of the reasons I like this is that there is a clear and specific first practice. The closest situation I can come to in describing this is the first day at summer camp for returning campers who really enjoyed camp. Since we're MEN (men! men! men! grrrr!) rather than teenage girls, we don't squeal and shriek, but we do hug each other and we dance really hard and we go out for pizza. Last night our pizza at Pizza Luce had bacon and spinach and goat cheese and our beer was something like a chocolate stout.
There is a winter Border Morris team that most of Ramsey's Braggarts dance on, so it's not as if we haven't seen each other, but that team includes dancers and musicians from the other local all-male Morris side and is very much a different team. Besides, I don't dance in the winter. Which is a problem, because this past winter I have not been near so good as the previous winter in daily exercise (I stopped last June while on vacation and, um, never exactly took it up again even once), so I was worried about my physical ability to dance the particular back-breaking jump high style of my team. Actually, even dancing Border wouldn't have helped in this regard.
Oh right, yeah, last night was our first practice, sort of. By our schedule (aka TRADITION!!!) we should have met last night for our annual team meeting when I make 14 avocados worth of guacamole and then next week should have been our first practice, but we don't have our regular practice venue next week so we switched things around. Douglas says I need to make two bowls of guacamole next week. (Whole bowls? I said, astonished, miming the large mixing bowl size I made last year.) One bowl for Michael, one for the rest of us. Oh. Ok. It's superbowl weekend, which means avocados are easy to come by.
First practice is so cool because we don't actually work on things, we just dance. We are most of us a bit out of dancing shape (I was certainly no worse off than many of the others, it turns out), so we are more lenient about taking breaks and we generally do the easier dances in our repertoire. Nonetheless, it's all great fun and I had those moments of flight and delight that I live for.
We've got some major problems this year. We desperately need new members, young members, but we have not been at all successful in recruiting. On top of that, we're down a few really key members. For example, John Finkle (way high in the air, leaving Nat on the ground):
John is off in New Orleans doing hurricane reconstruction.
And then there's the amazing Russ (on top of Ironman Matt in this picture, with Denise as musician):
Russ and his wife Lisa have gone to Tanzania with the Peace Corps. Douglas arranged for us to call them next week, which Russ says should work out timewise since they are up early getting milk from a neighbor's cow at that time.
Anyway, we're missing both of them, perhaps for good. And Andy is still on his meandering indefinite world tour, in Cambodia when last heard from. Eric, the youngest member of the team and the highest jumper of all time (he does serious circus work in his off time) rarely can join us any longer. And Jim won't be playing with us this year. So we're way down. bconn has been pointedly ignoring my team's requests for him to finish up his long between-job vacation by coming to Minnesota and dancing Morris for a season, but that's his loss as much as ours. So there.
Because I didn't dance every dance last night, I was still ready for one more when we called it quits. Ironman Matt (who did dance every dance) obliged by helping me learn the jig "Ladies Pleasure", which Bob played and called, and that was perfect: One dance too many for my back and knees. Ah, I am more than a bit sore today, so all seems right, or at least familiar.
Any Minnesotans out there want to become a Braggart?