The Dartmouth Fall Town Meeting fills the Dartmouth Middle School auditorium with entertaining community theater at 7. There'll be a brief First Anniversary of The Military Commissions Act celebration, a round of "You Voted Against The OverRide, Stupid" vs "You Shoulda Fought Harder For It, Dufus" Dodgeball and then the ages-old recriminations, grudges, and feuds that make Town Meeting the social event of the season. (No fancy-shmancy opera attire here, ladies, although you should be wearing your eighteen-button Oyster Gloves, it being evening.)
In case you think I'm mocking my berth, let me share a few observations I made over the past few days without even leaving the 200+ acre grounds of stately Goon Manor.
Last Saturday night I heard the award-winning Dartmouth High School Percussive Theater. It's not hard to do since their practice field is less than a mile from here. I know they fancy themselves a "theatrical group," but if you're not doing taiko, there's nothing particularly theatrical about high school drum corps to me. Something sort of "We can get a grant for this, really" about it. Except...
When I heard these kids banging away in the newly-cool October air of my neighborhood... Damn.
(Now, if someone can tell them something about set and props not being characters and motion not necessarily meaning drama.)
Geese are practicing their particular woodwind mayhem. They're staying in my neighbor's denuded cornfield, storing up energy and dropping that damned greasy fertilizer. And, because I am a healthy person, I haven't gotten so used to them that I recognize individuals. They seem to be readying for their flight south. If they really do that. But they're taking their noisy time heading down there. I mean, it's warmer down there, innit? As a general rule? If I had my old recording equipment (lost in a relocation), I'd do a mash-up of the drum corps and the honkers.The vineyard behind the Manor has a new manager. Actually, he's been here for more than a year; this is probably his first full season. But this being New England, it'll take fifteen or twenty years before they drop the "new" from his title. Most of the harvesting's done, only a couple of varieties are still on the vines, building up more sugar in their plump juicy grapiness. Sunday, we enjoyed a gathering in the second field as the growers' kids stomped the grapes they had helped pick earlier. The kids had stompy itchy fun, but just don't tell them that the grapes they stomped were heading for the vinegar factory.
Above, here's the new manager (see, I'm doing it already) and his brother and their dad using an antique grape crusher/hopper and a relatively new fruit press which introduces the "free run" into the stainless steel cylinder where it goes and then becomes Chardonnay after the vintner's magic. As you know, I have no qualms about filling my glass. It tasted like apple juice. It's actually really good grape juice that screams apple at your taste buds. (Go ahead and look at your nearest apple juice container. Bet it says something about "grape juice.")
Neighbors engaged in politics, art, agriculture. This is my town, and as I often say: Dartmouth was here long before your silly little country, and Dartmouth, my friend, shall endure.