Rob's Blog Archive

July 15, 2012

Summer Concerts at Seeley Lake










Summer weekends in Seeley Lake feature warm days, alpine lakes made for water-skiing, hiking in two spectacular wilderness areas, and fly-fishing so good there’s a Robert Redford movie about it. 

Evenings cool off, both in temperature and things to do.  The end result is Friday and Saturday nights in Seeley, the bars are usually full.  Happily, company is at least as much of a draw as alcohol.  We are pack animals and we do like to congregate.  And like other pack animals, singing is one of our social interactions.  Karaoke is a weekend staple in Seeley’s bars.

My first real trips to Seeley Lake were during the fall of 2003.  My mentor, Bob Chlupach, had invited me up and I spent almost every weekend at his place.  Bob had rented a house about ten miles outside of town.  The particular location boasted three kennels at that time, Bob’s, Dona Miller’s, and Aaron Kyrouac’s.  Dona’s and Aaron’s were both purebred kennels.  Bob’s included a few Alaskans, but most of his dogs were also purebred Siberian Huskies.    All three kennels were within relatively easy earshot of each other. 

Their proximity resulted in a phenomenon I have not witnessed before or since.  One kennel would start its howl---the entire kennel singing together.  Just about the time that pack was done, a second kennel would start in.  Almost in perfect sequence, the final kennel would take a go at it.  Usually, it ended with a single cycle, but occasionally the first kennel would raise their voices and the Siberian Husky wave would make another round.

While in my experience the wave was unique, howls in sleddog kennels, particularly Siberian Husky kennels, are commonplace.  What is clear about my dogs’ singing is it is the same as mine.  Coyotes, wolves, dogs, and homo-sapiens, interact socially by singing.  The bonding of song and music are so strong that these form an integral part of our rituals.  It would be interesting to see if there exists a religious ceremony devoid of music---I’d bet that there isn’t. 

Friday night is karaoke night at The Moose, the Seeley Lake bar I often hang out at.  For the record, I usually drink very little, often no alcohol at all and rarely more than a single drink, but that’s the topic of a different essay.  Anyway, like other Seeley Lake pack animals, I hang out there and I sing.  Sadly, I have one of the better voices.  Or amusingly, if that’s the way you want to look at it.  Note: If you polled everybody who sings there, they’d say either that they’re in the top half or bottom ten percent of voices.   Moreover one might find that their self-evaluations are almost totally uncorrelated with how good or bad their voices actually are.  It doesn’t matter.  We’re not auditioning for the opera.   We’re there to have fun, and we do.  I’d add that it makes it easier ‘realizing’ that I’m at least in the top 40th percentile of those who pick up the mike.  To that I’d add that all that that means is I’m not embarrassed about singing in public, something that we seem to have brought upon ourselves. 

For whatever reason, karaoke seems to at least mute inhibitions we normally have.  I’m sure alcohol helps.  I’m also sure it’s less of an effect than most would believe.  I’d assert that the fact that we are howling with our friends, even in public, results in a more primal satisfaction then a buzz from a few beers could really give. 

Seeley Lake’s Summer, real summer, starts mid-June and is pretty much over by the end of August.  Partying at the bars weekend nights follows the same schedule---they’re open to karaoke throughout the year, but after summer, almost nobody shows up.  Happily, the seasons do not affect when my dogs sing---their singing is a year round affair. 

I often find myself looking out at my pack, heads raised, tails slowly wagging, bodies relaxed and happy, howling together.  It’s not the call of the wild, but it’s not a song of the city or suburbs either.  Some evenings, I wonder just what their words actually mean---the gist is clear, the nuance not so much.  Mostly though, I just stop and enjoy.

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