When I woke up without a fever yesterday, I knew would travel. After class, defying a weather forecast that predicted a 50% chance of rain, I threw a bedroll in the car and headed west, towards Bishop Hill and the Swedish Midsommar festival.
By the time I arrived, the Swedes had already finished their traditional midsommar dance around the maypole–a Swedish maypole with circles suspended from the arms–but I was not too late to wait for the last set of the barn dance.
While I was checking out the maypole, a woman in a white dress and a man with a red beard were trying to get the old pump to work. When I returned, they had given up that effort and were working on non-verbal communication.
Humming Cosby Stills and Nash’s “Love the one you’re with”, I returned to my car and quickly changed into the apparent uniform for the event, long skirt, tank top, and sandals (not proper leather shoes that are easier to dance in, but way too hot for ninety-something degree weather) and went back inside the air-conditioned colony school.
The star of the event, hands down, was a hammered dulcimer. The musician showed it to me later, saying it was a traditional colonial instrument, but lost favor because like a piano, it had to be re-tuned every time it was moved. Unlike a piano, it is only capable of playing certain keys.
As soon as I put some money in the basket to pay the musicians, a very nice man materialized out of nowhere and claimed me as a dancing partner. Not redhead, but bald, young-ish, and wonder of wonders, taller than me.
The Virginia Reel; a walkthrough to learn the moves.