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I live on the ocean, write women's fiction, love to read so much that it's an addiction rather than a hobby (I read an average of a book a day). I live on the wet west coast so it's a good thing that I like to walk in the rain.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Morris dancers

Aren't they beautiful? I ran into them at the ferry terminal in Port Townsend, Washington, on my way back from the Girls' Night Out event at the Kitsap Mall in Silverdale.

For those of you who don't know about Morris dancing - here's a link to some basic information about it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morris_dance

There were dozens of them waiting for the ferry - all of them wearing flowers and feathers and half of them with blackened faces. Every one of them had anklets of bells and the sound of them moving through the parking lot was wonderful.

When they got on the ferry, they appropriated the small front cabin, sat down with their instruments and played us English folk music to take us across the half hour crossing (which got pretty rough in the middle - though it didn't seem to stop them). It was, truly, magical.

And to make a good story even better - they were from Bowen Island. I know that doesn't mean anything to you, but it does to me because Bowen is a small island about a 10 minute ferry ride off the coast of Vancouver. And when I say small, I mean small. But there were dozens of Morris dancers, both male and female.

And it got me wondering about a bunch of things.

First of all, the Morris dancers I saw have to be a fairly big percentage of the population of Bowen Island - and what are the odds of that? I mean, if you took a census and one of the questions you asked was "Are you a Morris dancer?" you'd probably end up with less than a millionth of one percent of the population, though it might be higher in England. On Bowen Island that percentage has to be much much higher - not just statistically improbable, but statistically impossible.

So do they move to Bowen Island because they're Morris dancers or do they become Morris dancers because of moving to Bowen Island? And which would I prefer?

Is there some kind of Morris dancing vortex that drags all the west coast Morris dancers to Bowen Island? Are they somehow compelled to end up there?

Or is there such a strong presence of Morris dancers on Bowen Island - added to the fact that you can't get off the island after 9:00 when the ferries stop running - that you become a Morris dancer just to be part of the island's social life?

What do you think?


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