It's Scottish, or it's crap!

I spent some time at Lewis park yesterday, enjoying the cacophony of sounds better known collectively as, "the pipes". Highland music has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. The sounds somehow speak to my soul on a level I am not sure I truly understand. To be honest, I don't really need to, I just enjoy the music. Having been a snare player in a marching band when I was younger, whenever I here the rudiments being tapped out on a precision tuned snare, my finger tap uncontrollably. It was a great time for me, I got to travel and compete with a group of people that loved it as much as I did.

As I walked around, I saw many players, young and old, drumming, piping, tuning, laughing and joking, all the while trying to dodge the hot brilliant sun beating down on the day. Having Lupus, makes the sun my enemy. But it makes so many people happy, I would be foolish to not try and capture it. RMM entering the competition field.RMM entering the competition field. WIth heavy doses of nuclear sunscreen, and a hat fitting the day I meandered around looking for images.

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As part of the experience, I enjoy walking around watching people, watch the games. It can sometimes be pretty emotional as they remember events associated with certain songs. Some people laugh, some people cry, such as with Amazing Grace, always a tear jerker when performed by a lone piper at first, and then joined by mass band. Who would think that these strange instruments could evoke such emotion? But they do and I love it. When it comes to competition though, there is a serious side. Notes are hammered out until perfect, timing on the drum line practiced for both musical and visual reasons as sticks move in harmony, points from the judges climb. This is when I like to snap my photos. During practice sessions. People are more relaxed thinking about playing, not competing. Instructors are all over the place, guarding against intruders such as myself when we get too close with our cameras, ( ah hem), and tuning drum heads and pipes. Checking uniforms for complete assembly, bringing water etc. It is quite a scene. Scottish Breathalyzer - tuning of the pipes.Scottish Breathalyzer - tuning of the pipes.

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During these practice sessions it becomes pretty evident who the new people are, as they seems frightfully nervous, and who the keener's are. They are the ones that pay attention to everything, learn all they can to improve, and take pride in their ability. One young lady from S.F.U.'s Robert Malcolm Memorial band, was very intent on learning timing and was a constant gazer on the lead drummer. This told me she wanted to learn, and be the best. An admirable quality, and encouraged by champion bands such as R.M.M. I am sure. Timing is everything -Timing is everything - For more information on this band, and their accomplishments, see here. http://www.rmmpipeband.com/

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Part of the fun with Highland Games, are the heavy games. People, large and small, trying to heave big things as far as they can. Something only the Scots would think to do as entertainment. I enjoy it, and have participated in the past in these events. Usually on the beach when I walk past a log that smacks of "pick me up and toss me." Though that hasn't happened in a while, it will likely happen again. A solid part of this event, is the clothing choice. All I have to say is this...imagine if you will, what this looked like before knee braces, and under garments were popular. Enough said. Throw yer ball, bye.Throw yer ball, bye.

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On a final note, not all fans were of human origin. There were a few critters kicking around, such as the Comox Valley Westies. Apparently they do a walk from somewhere, to the Highland Games. I was met by this group of aficionados on the smallest part of the 5th St. bridge as they were being piped in by the Comox Valley Pipe Band. Tight fit for a big drumTight fit for a big drum Some Westie owners, saw my 12 year old Boxer with me and instantly picked up their dog. I assume to prevent their dogs from attacking my Boxer, because it certainly wouldn't be the other way around. By the look on some of their faces, they wanted no part of a conversation that would educate them otherwise. I always try and introduce my Boxers to any and all that seem timid, or curious to dispel the myth that these dogs are anything but friendly. But not all people wish to do so. That is fine. I love all dogs, and will never stop promoting the Boxer Breed.

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Not all dogs at the games were Westies however. Breeds large and small were all over the place. It was great to see so many people and pets in one place getting along, enjoying the sun, and taking in the extraordinary music. I believe this critter pictured here, is a Portuguese Water dog, made more popular, by the Obama family when they took office. Black dog, with one white foot.Black dog, with one white foot.

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My all time favourite however, are the portraits that can happen in a day with pipers. Bulging cheeks, and red faces make for some great images. Players doing their best not to pass out as they inflate the bladder of their very personal instrument. B&W, it's the only way. and...inhale..and...inhale.. Cheeks...Cheeks...