A couple of weeks ago I volunteered at the Senior Appreciation Lunch at the Methow Valley Community Center. (To say that I “volunteered” is, perhaps, egregiously overstating my own helpfulness at the event. It would be more correct to say that I showed up and fulfilled the minimal and entirely enjoyable duties assigned to me.)
While seniors arrived and found their seats, a live band played. After a few minutes, several couples found their way to the dance floor. A few of the other volunteers — all of us a generation or two behind the elders — watched wistfully as the elders danced. We never learned to partner dance: a skill, it seems, that was taught in elementary school to everyone up through the baby boomers and then abandoned unceremoniously with subsequent generations.
It’s lovely to watch people dancing in tandem, particularly with the easy grace of half a century or more spent together. The couples all knew the steps and performed them gracefully, with no sign of the replaced hips, stiff backs, or compromised sense of balance that were surely present in some. They moved their feet as one, sometimes adding a twirl or a flourish, moving first apart and then back together.
It was, I thought, very much like the dance of marriage. Sometimes you lead, sometimes you follow. Sometimes you look each other in the eyes, sometimes you gaze out across your partner’s shoulder. Sometimes you perform some fancy footwork, sometimes you just sway back and forth together. But you keep moving to the music, with the aim of remaining in sync with your partner, and trying not to step on each other’s toes too often.
Orchestrated by Jimmy Gariano, sponsored by Hank’s Harvest Foods, and supported by so many Methow Valley businesses that if I listed them here, I’d be even further over the word limit for my column, the Senior Appreciation Lunch is a tribute to the valley’s elders, who provide the rest of us with perspective on weathering storms, conducting oneself with humility, and making time for the things that really matter.
Serving the seniors their lunches were Kiwanis members, who shooed completely useless volunteers like me out of the kitchen, saying they had it covered, which they did. Kiwanians have a habit of being involved in many of the valley’s community gatherings, and one of the most iconic — the Bite of the Methow — is coming up on March 16 at the Winthrop Barn and features “bites” of food from local vendors like Sun Mountain Lodge, Freestone Inn, La Fonda Lopez, Woodstone Pizza, Thomson’s Custom Meats and many others.
The Bite is Kiwanis’s signature event, focused this year on raising money to fill Liberty Bell High School’s new job site trailer with “Tools for the Trades” that students in the Advanced Construction Trades class need in order to learn carpentry, plumbing, and electrical work. All of these skills are in high demand, and through this class — and with the tools Kiwanis hopes to buy — students will gain a head start to enter the work force or technical school after graduation.
Additional funds generated through the Bite will be used to support dozens of projects through other valley nonprofit organizations who serve youth. Tickets for the Bite are $20 and can be purchased from any Kiwanis member, at Windermere Real Estate in Twisp, or at the Tenderfoot in Winthrop, or by calling 996-3991. They almost always sell out, so get your ticket while you still can.