Belonging

I belong to our town band. We’re a collection of odds and ends that each plays a musical instrument of one kind or another. Mostly we all played our instruments when we were in grade school and then put them in storage for many years until retiring to the small mountain valley where we all live. Each instrument is a bit tarnished and certainly the youngest is more than middle aged. For example, my saxophone is older than I am.

We have drums, a baritone, tuba, clarinet, saxophone, two or three trumpets, depending on the day, two flutes (three when a guest from out of town is staying with a relative), a keyboard, and finally, we have two instruments you don’t usually see in a band; an accordion and a home-made instrument that doesn’t have a name. It’s a single heavy-gauge string tied to a wooden shovel handle attached to a plastic bucket for the sounding board, all on a wooden plywood base about 18 inches square. It makes a real thrumming sound that adds to the percussion of the drums.

We don’t march. We sit . . . and play. We play twice a year. On the fourth of July, we get up early and get on the back of a trailer and are pulled around our little mountain valley (full-time population 120, summer holiday population 800 – more or less depending on the weekend and the holiday). We wake everyone up around 7:00am and then we all gather down to the New England style church (built in 1868) and have more music by the band, a little program, and of course breakfast for everyone in the community.

The full-time residents came from all over the United States to live in this small community. The part-time residents mostly come from the surrounding communities and cities from which they escape on hot summer days, or when they want to play in the snow in the winter.

The best thing about it, though, is the feeling that exists in the valley. People often comment on feeling how peaceful, serene and something else . . . they just can’t put their finger on it.

I think it’s because of the people themselves; from those who first settled the valley and all those who’ve come ever since. They’ve come from all over and they’ve gotten along . . . because they want to.

There are different religions, nationalities, political persuasions, and ages. One thing they all have in common is their love for our little valley. We unite in many common causes, such as clean-ups, fundraisers, barn dances, potlucks, sicknesses, surgeries, and celebrations. And yes, we probably know each others’ business too much.

Still, our love for the feeling we’ve all helped create, and the desire we have to maintain it, keeps us together. We have differences, yes, but we don’t worry too much about settling things that can’t be settled. Instead we all just focus on being tolerant, getting along, and enjoying the things we share rather than worry about the things we don’t.

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