A Port Townsend Summer Band concert at Chetzemoka Park is an old-fashioned pleasure new to me. Grass tilts down toward the water, past a classic white wooden bandstand, and tall firs frame sailboats, pleasure craft, and ferries plying blue-green water. Beyond the forests and cliffs of Whidbey Island, Mount Baker is a snow-white cone against the summer sky.
On a cloudless hot Sunday, early arrivals wearing short sleeves, sandals, and big hats, plant folding chairs in the shade of trees. Some people sit under umbrellas, unpack picnic coolers, and pour glasses of wine. My visiting niece and I, latecomers, sit in the full sun on blankets from the back of the car.
At the edge of the park’s lawn, little girls dance to the music, other children tilt high on swings or toss lazy Frisbees. Well-behaved dogs pant and lie patiently. Babies crawl on the grass, a dad picks his up and walks – tossing and catching the baby – toward the mom with a camera.
When I lobbied to move from Alaska, and asked my good-natured husband to uproot, I had no idea how he would attach to a new place – and would never have predicted he’d join a band!
When he went north to Alaska, my husband took his coronet (we call it a trumpet but it is properly a coronet). For years it sat in a case next to a reading chair to hold a coffee cup, but rehabilitated, it was played in school con brio by our older son.
Soon after we built the house and began coming down here, my husband announced that he might play “Taps” from the balcony at sunset – one son called the sound haunting as we stepped outside to listen. We buried our dog Bill to the sweet, sad sound of “Taps,” and by that time the family musician had begun to go to the Buffalo every evening to practice.
Band Members wear the official forest green T-shirt embellished on the front with hot pink music notes and the words: “Strike up the Band.” For this concert in addition to toe-tapping marches, the conductor arranged a piece of music, a tribute to the Pennine Way in England, written by a local woman’s father. I watched her thank the band and thought how that music came alive on this sunny day. How music lives on. And how a skill lives on also – encouraged by the grown-up acceptance of the pleasures of practice.
After intermission the winner of a raffle, wearing a tank top and shorts, conducted a Sousa tune, and when the band began a medley from “My Fair Lady,” I knew all the words. It is poignant to sit beside my niece. When her mother and I were young, we used to tunelessly and joyfully belt out the words from all those beloved musicals.
Today was indeed “loverly!”