Friday, July 16, 2010

Hats with Feathers

Sitting in the plaza after dinner, with Emma double-fisting cones of (chocolate and lemon) gelatto, we noticed people arranging their chairs towards the church as if anticipating a parade. Sure enough, a few dozen of the local men's mountain choir meander in, wearing green polos with some official-looking logo and a green felt hat with a feather; the only three guys under 50 look a bit embarrassed and make a pit stop at the bar. They sing for an hour. Before each song one man reads a quick prelude and backstory. Solid barotone resonated off the church's outside walls, and out of respect I tried not to shudder and wince at the falsoetto of vocal cords past their expiration date.

The generation gap was palpable. Older ladies mouthing the words and clapping politely at all the right places, visibly nostalgic for what was likely their grandparents' music. I thought I saw a few tears dabbed, though this might have been due to somebody's overuse of insect repellant (which Emma says was somebody's perfume). A minority of the audience was under 60. At the other end of the plaza, some 30-somethings chatted irreverently. Rowdy childern were rounded up and whisked away by parents.

As outsiders, it is a privilege to see local customs: one gets the feeling that these local communities are a dying breed.

- Chris

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