Monday, August 20, 2007

Piping Hot

The piper in the picture was leading a group of Seaforth Highlanders in the African desert in 1943. (If you click on the picture, you can see a sgian dubh and flashes on the officer's stocking, doing his best to maintain the highland distinctions in spite of the War Office.)

I wasn't in the Sahara last week. Only Chatsworth in the San Fernando Valley. But it felt like the Sahara, pushing 100° fahrenheit as it was. Neither Highland dress nor the Highland pipes were conceived with Chatsworth in mind. But we maintained the Highland distinctions, rather more of them than the officer in the picture was able to do. Although I rather think he in his khaki shirt and shorts was more comfortable than I in my lebbenty-leben pounds of Scottish wool.

I was playing for a funeral at the Oakwood Cemetery. An interesting place. Both Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers are buried there, nowhere near each other, but the same cemetery just the same. Gravesite services are fairly short; 15 minutes usually covers it. Since the temperature was hovering at the triple digit mark (that's 37 or 38-ish for Celsius fans) it was, of course, over an hour. The piper wilted somewhat but was happily supplied with water. The poor old pipes were in a sad state, though. They warmed up considerably and the pitch was through the roof. Piping hot, indeed. I'm sure I pleased any passing bat. The congregation said they enjoyed the music. . .but they weren't as close to the pipe as I was.

I intended a different illustration for this post. I tried to take a picture of one of the signs at the cemetery with my pda camera but for whatever reason it wouldn't come out. The signs, posted at various strategic points throughout the area advised "Caution! Rattlesnake Season". Apparently the evil little buggers love to be out and about in the hot weather.

St Patrick, pray for us.