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NGI Recipient: Ben Meader

Session Attended: CDS Boston Centre - July 4th Weekend (2013)

Week 3, Post-Pinewoods, 2013


Dear Pinewoods; Dancing Gods & Goddesses; Granting Angels,


A few weeks ago a strange thing happened to me.  Struck by a flight of fancy, I stopped by a random table at the dining hall of Pinewoods (a place where people go to… well… just dance!), and, the jesters of music within me somersaulting wildly, I blew across the top of a champagne bottle that had come to rest there.  The bottle, being devoid of any contents, resonated with a low D flat or some other note (maybe C#? har har), and I sang TWO words:  “The bright…”  Well.  By the time I got to “morning”, it was as if I had fallen into a snap-dragon bush.  Voices erupted with semi-inebriated, semi-digested vigor.  We sang straight for a good hour while the mutating blob of summertime carolers bussed their dishes and got shushed outside only to regroup for another round.  After all, who wants to wash dishes in silence?

So it goes with these folks.  Instant indoctrination to a society of fun-loving, footloose, and albeit somewhat woodland elvish mirth-makers.  An unknowing woods wanderer, stumbling upon Pinewoods somewhere between 9pm and 3 in the morning, may very well wrongfully assume he/she is dreaming.  Or maybe just happily lost.

While my vocal chords stretched, ran several marathons, stretched again, then tried out Iron Man—it was my feet that got the real exercise.  Whether it was learning to REALLY float a waltz, clog a Cape Breton Jig, or wheel around with a new swing partner, my brain and body haven’t been so wonderfully fused since I first paddled the New Haven River.  The passion of the instructors (as well as the patience of my fellow dancers) helped my feet work through the steps; sometimes it felt like trying to write with my left hand, but it was oh so wonderful.  Doug [Creighton]’s passion and emotion for the living Cape Breton dance culture still gives me goose bumps when I think about it.

Forgive my effervescence.  It is one thing to be thankful for a thing.  It is quite another to be changed by it.  As I mentioned in my “date” at the top, it is Week 3, Post-Pinewoods.  I’m past the “after-a-wonderful-thing blues”, maybe outright depression, but now am just looking forward to the next Pinewoods.  Whether it will be next year, or the year after, or every year—I’m sure I’ll be back.  My feet won’t tolerate idle laziness for long.

So, in short, THANK YOU so much (!!!) for giving me the opportunity to meet so many amazing people, hear and sing so much soul-stirring music, and join my feet and hands and body in the relief of dance.  You all have made a dream of simple tradition, passing it down the way it should be passed—person to person, old to young.  Your scholarship program grants the gift of discovery to people who would otherwise let their feet remain dormant.  People like me.

Thanks for making the dream a reality.  I hope to be back as soon as the sets begin to form in front of the caller.  I don’t want to miss a step!


With gratitude,

Ben Meader