Congratulations to Alex, Zander, and Mathias on the medals they earned at the Highland Games yesterday in Georgetown, Ontario. For the first time I can remember, it didn't rain at the Games. It was a glorious sunny day with just enough breeze to keep it cool, and the turnout was one of the best I recall. It is fun for me, after thirty years of piping, to sit back on a blanket under the trees and dandle grandbabies on my knee and just enjoy watching, instead of lugging myself around in 8 yards of wool and fighting pre-piping jitters. I like watching people celebrate their heritage, remember their ancestors, and pass on traditions. I like the judges who take the time to counsel and teach each competitor, and I like the comradery when you bump into people you have known for years but meet only on the piping circuit. There is a secret thrill of satisfaction when people like Hugh Cameron or Bob Worrall recognize you and give you a friendly nod and wave as they pass. They probably don't know my name, but they've seen my face around, they know I am somehow involved, and that's good enough for them.
I am proud of the members of St. Andrews Pipes and Drums, who competed for the first time yesterday. This wasn't just their first time competing together---for most of them it was the first piping competition they've ever been in. They did a great job and have much to be proud of. Learning to conquer fear is the biggest challenge, and they all succeeded so well! I think it's a rare and precious thing, when a group of people dare to try a new experience they've never done before, cheering each other on.
Afterward, as we were relaxing back at the tents, someone pointed out to me that our band was all chatting and laughing and genuinely enjoying each other, while the band next to ours was all huddled together and receiving a stern lecture from their pipe major. I guess their performance was sub-par, and he was letting them know it. It was such a contrast to the happy group I was sitting with, and I appreciate the friendliness and family-feeling of our band. And I appreciate that I still feel it's our band, even though I no longer formally play with them. I am glad for the friends music has brought me.