What a delightful visit we had! John and Ron graduated high school together, so they have a long history. Occasionally Kathy and I left them to chat together, because we never lacked for things to talk and laugh about.
We talked of many things, but I was most fascinated with square dance calling. Ron had joined a square dance group, and when the caller quit, he learned how to do it. He began with records, used tapes and CDs, and ended up with computer music. I wanted to know the mechanics. Being a square dance caller is something like improvising music. You find out how the beats are set up and call accordingly. Some things have 16 beats followed by two 8’s and might end with 4, all multiples of 4. I remember from playing for a ballet studio in Memphis that ballet music was always based on 8 beats. Ron said callers begin by looking at a cheat sheet they’ve set up, but you have to get over that. If the dancers are novices, they mess things up, and you have to use calls to get them back in order. He explained that you have three tracks running in your head, something like knowing where you are, making the call, and planning what comes next. With practice, it becomes instinctive. Well, for him, not me. I’d rather play for a communion service and make the hymn and diddle music finish at the right time.
We sat on the back porch all evening as they enjoyed seeing the mountains and waiting for the horses to come near enough for a photo. The horses didn’t cooperate, but Kathy noticed them near the fence before breakfast. I had just cut up a large apple, so we took two slices for Kathy to feed them. The mare knocked one to the ground. The stallion ate his, and we talked him into eating the other from the ground. Kathy told him that was all, and he let her pet him.