Of Song and Water by Joseph Coulson

I picked the book, Of Song and Water off a shelf at a second hand shop.  I loved the title.  That was my sole reason for choosing it.  Quickly running my fingers through the pages, I decided it would be placed in what my father used to call ‘the throne room’.  You got it?  Something about the size of the font.  And…it seemed like it wouldn’t be a need-to-think-deeply sort of book.

In the end, this turned out to be a remarkable story, a book where music could be experienced through the written word and where colour could be heard.

Hearing Colour

As happens with similar narratives, I was seduced by the intimate disclosures revealed on this family line.  Coleman’s life, love of music and connection with water were woven through memory and the life of his father, Dorian. Given my years living on the edge of Georgian Bay, I also found the setting of the Great Lakes to be nostalgic in its description.  I’ve not spent time in Chicago or Detroit, but I can imagine these places, based on movies, media and books.

This review is my favourite and expresses my sense of the book.

“Joseph Coulson’s second novel, Of Song and Water, concerns a jazz musician coming to endings: a career on the skids because of hands that can no longer make the chords he needs; a boat, falling apart and weighted with memories of his father, and of his father’s father before him (both men casting long shadows); a divorce; a former love he walked away from for his music; and a daughter preparing to leave for school.”

Throughout the writing, there is evidence of an intimate understanding of Jazz…and sections that describe Otis and others in performance, are rich with the detail and process of the genre.

I am very happy that I came upon this book, quite by accident.  It was a rich and generous piece of writing.  There were many surprising moments for me.  Again, I like the intimacy of language and I am a kook about description.  This wouldn’t be a book for everyone, but really appealed to my taste.

“Coulson moves fluidly between the past and the present, and the novel is ultimately quiet, affecting and redemptive.”

Of Song and Water

 

 

 

 

Water Spiral

On September 27, in the Wildwood Community Garden, you can celebrate the official launch of the Water Spiral at their 2nd Community Harvest Festival.  I’m not kidding you, I tripped out  to this community all the way from mine in the deep southeast of Calgary, in McKenzie Lake, just to see what wonders an eco sensitive community and two artists might create together.  What I found, amazed.

My epic journey was on June 7 and a lot has happened since then!

Wildwood Harvest Festival

While I can’t possibly write, this morning, about the entire process, I can write about the wondrous day that I walked through the garden.  What I saw, captured my heart.

On June 7th, the Wildwood Community hosted the Water Spiral Community Workshop.  It was with open arms that Michelena Bamford greeted my cousin, Margy, and me upon our arrival.  Lane Shordee, at the time, was quietly engaged with a young man who was doing something inventive with wood.  If you have opportunity to meet Michelena and Lane, you will see their humility first and then you will notice their greatness.  Both are actively engaged artists, but with a twist.  They both have a solid connection with sustainability and the earth.  Surprisingly, I connected with both first at the Gorilla House.

You can read about Michelena’s accomplishment by hooking into the Wolf Willow Studio website, some of which describes school mosaic mural construction and installation, public art projects and seasonal wreath construction.  Lane’s work is very diverse and his projects include important contributions to both the Wreck City and Phantom Wing.  They are both inspiring creatives in the City of Calgary and the fact that they got together and successfully pitched the Water Spiral project was a blessing.  For the complete process, hook in with the Water Spiral Facebook link that will take you through this labour of love from start to finish.  It is such an amazing story.

The smell of wood filled the air…the sound of hand saws and hammers to nails…children throwing water at one another…fathers with children, inventing…mothers, pushing strollers, exploring, chatting, meeting other mothers.  All was magic.

Wildwood5Margy and I first slipped into a trailer (Michelena’s family vacation mobile) to meet with Canadian Art Foundation Writing Award recipient, Jenna Swift.  She was inspiring written intentions and blessings that would later be etched onto the underground cistern of the Water Spiral.  Given the fact that brevity is not my strong point, I felt that writing was a way to release my intentions; it didn’t matter if my words were to land onto a cistern.  For me, the words were permanently etched on my heart.

I view myself as a ‘river’ woman..and so, I am completely enamoured with any project that has to do with sustainability, protection and responsible use of water.  This is how the Water Spiral works.

Paint wsI wrote of my connections with the protagonist Morag, a writer, who divines a river in Margaret Laurence’s novel, The Diviners.  For me, as Laurence eloquently captures, the river of our lives flows both ways.  We can not help but be connected.  We are fluid.  We breath one another in all day, every day.  We need to be responsible for one another; for the air, the land and the most precious commodity, water.  I wrote something about all of that on the blue-green piece of paper before me (generously donated by The Social Page).

Wildwood6From the trailer, Margy and I did not contribute in construction, but we wandered the grounds, dodged water spray and children playing, munched on apples provided by the Apple Lady, spent time sitting in the sunshine observing, and then went to explore the lay out of the gardens, just newly planted, but evidently, organized by a community of people who enjoy an aesthetic, as well as a love for the land.

Wildwood3The day was, as I call most days, a blessing-day!  I was so taken by  community members who welcomed us, chatted with us and encouraged us to seek out involvement and initiative in our own communities.

Wildwood Map There is much in Calgary to be grateful for and because we are physically, such a sprawl, we need to go outside of our own part of the city to connect with and enjoy the company and vision of other Calgarians.  It will be a wonderful thing to see the completed project and to enjoy the evidence of a great garden harvest in the Wildwood Community!

Wildwood1 Wildwood2I hope that my readers will find opportunity to attend the celebration of the Water Spiral on the 27th of September.  It will delight you…inspire you and give you optimism for a healthier future.

Light on Water

Photo Credit: Kathleen Moors

Photo Credit: © Kathleen Moors

The light is changing…that’s what I noticed as I pulled up to the house just before nine tonight.

Light has a lot to do with how we feel about things.  While I was out on the water with my brother, father and daughter, I enjoyed a different experience of light. The term I used out on the boat was mercurial…something about light bouncing off of water.  I got to thinking about my sister-friend who sails with her partner for a good part of every year.  What a wondrous experience that would be.  Does it all normalize after a time?

I thought that my family was more transparent out on the water…more beautiful; although I wonder how that can be possible.

It was important that I jot this impression/experience down because as time passes, these moments begin to exist in a more distant past.  I never want to forget the silver-white of every moment.

©Kathleen Moors

©Kathleen Moors

 

©Kathleen Moors

©Kathleen Moors

 

© Kathleen Moors

© Kathleen Moors

 

©Kathleen Moors

©Kathleen Moors

 

Gratitude to Cliff’s Chinook Charters.

Alex Colville’s Painting, To Prince Edward Island (1965)

Alex Colville, To Prince Edward Island, painted in 1965

Alex Colville, To Prince Edward Island, painted in 1965

Heritage Weekend at Calgary Public Library

Besides LOVING ART in CALGARY, I’m also very interested in history and so managed to get over to the Central Branch for their session on Calgary Stories in the John Dutton Theater.

A most entertaining session was delivered by three local historians.  Wowsah!

First, Historian Laureate, Harry Sanders, shared archival images Z-A and brief and entertaining snippets of our local history while he went.  Harry, your website isn’t current, but looking forward to reading content after construction ends.  For now, updates can be scanned via Mr. Sander’s twitter account.  His presentation was very entertaining and the public library promises that yesterday’s session will be taped for the purpose of viewing in future on Youtube.

Directly from Harry Sander’s website…this.

An historian from an early age . .

When he was a child, Harry Sanders found an old beat-up photo of the hotel his family owned and knew he wanted to find out more. That photo inspired Harry to research and write about the Whitehouse Hotel in Drumheller, Alberta and he has been writing ever since. Harry uses historic buildings as the catalyst to an exploration of the people and events that have shaped Calgary and Alberta history. He especially likes making obscure connections that others may not have noticed and relating current events to what has happened long before most of us were even born.

Harry has published articles in several magazines and is the author of 7 books on local history. He will have two new books published in 2012. As well as being a prolific author, Harry is also a popular public speaker.

Next, Harry Sanders introduced Historian, John Gilpin.  Now, with my interest in the river as metaphor for mostly everything I think and do, this talk fascinated me.  John Gilpin has authored several books, one being The Elbow: A River in the Life of the City.  The focus of yesterday’s talk was our history with flooding and the issues surrounding decisions on historical mitigation.  I took a couple of photographs in the dark…absolutely fascinating.  Visually, the projected images and the timeline for the building of the Glenmore Dam were of particular interest to me.  

P1130926 P1130927Fascinating that our city should have such a history around flooding.  Again, once the talk has been published, I will post it here…it was absolutely ‘spilling over’ with interesting fact and narrative.  John Gilpin is often involved with tours and talks and has participated in the Jane’s Walks events, an organization I hope to tap into this coming spring.

David Finch, dressed in his early oilman ‘get up’ was the last to speak and his focus was on the oil, natural gas and other related products as the industries developed in Turner Valley.  A charming speaker, this was another very informative and packed session.

I can not speak highly enough about the programs generated at the Calgary Public Library.  As I made my way to the theater, there was Artist-in-Residence, Lea Bucknell, busy with at least fifteen people of all ages, drawing and looking at books.  What a wonderful event!

The Memory in my Suitcase

Katherine Mary Moors in Foreground

Everyone else would be dipping their toes into the cold water, whether it was at Kouchibouquac Beach in New Brunswick or Lake Ontario.  But what would my mother do?  Without hesitation, she threw down her towel, and kicking sand up behind her, she would ditch all of us for the water!  I will never forget how streamlined she looked as she dove in head first, all of us left laughing and up to our ankles.  She would surface and with one gesture, push her dark curls off her forehead and stretch back into a beautiful back stroke…sun dazzling on her wet face.

 

“Lying in my bed I hear the clock tick,
And think of you
Caught up in circles confusion
Is nothing new
Flashback warm nights
Almost left behind
Suitcases of memories,
Time after”

To Grow

Human Growth

“The hardest step of all human growth may well be that from the child’s dependence on and aggression towards its parents, to a friendship and dialogue with them, which recognizes their grace and gifts.”

Jean Vanier, Community and Growth, p. 236

Thank you, dear Hollee!

Old Stepstone: Cold Speck

Oh, ’tis sad to be parted from those that we love
Strange faces we see every day
Each heart string of mine is broken in time
When I think of those dear ones at home

Goodbye dear old stepstone, goodbye to my home
God bless those I leave with a sigh
I’ll cherish fond memories when I’m far away
To roam o’er this wide world alone

I stood on my doorstep one evening and morn
The wind whispered by with a moan
The fields may be whitening, but I will be gone
To roam o’er this wide world alone

Goodbye dear old stepstone, goodbye to my home
God bless those I leave with a sigh
I’ll cherish fond memories when I’m far away
To roam o’er this wide world alone

And I stood on my doorstep when school time was o’er
And I wished for the time to go by
Now it has passed, and I stand here tonight
To bid this old stepstone goodbye

Goodbye dear old stepstone, goodbye to my home
God bless those I leave with a sigh
I’ll cherish fond memories when I’m far away
To roam o’er this wide world alone
To roam o’er this wide world alone

Clouds, Like Sailing Boats

Such a beautiful afternoon, edging the pond.  I really enjoyed observing the large numbers of water fowl, birds and muskrats.  So much calling out, of every variety.

In grade school, I used to play a clapping song with my dear friends and sing, at the same time,

“Like snow-white sailing boats,
On a blue sea’
High in the heavens
the clouds float so free.
If I could fly to one
If I could ride on one,
Sailing and sailing,
what pleasure ‘twould be.”

Today was a day just like that childhood song, captured in a few words…but, oh soooo big!

Burning Water

While attending the Marda Loop Justice Film Festival last evening, I had the opportunity to view the film, Burning Water.  This is a film that everyone should see, particularly, Albertans.  I was appalled and very concerned for Fiona Lauridsen’s family , but also for the many unaware individuals who have companies like Encana drilling and fracking on their land.  As a  citizen of a world that needs, above all, to protect its water, I would like to think that we can move toward a spirit of sustainable energy.  As a consumer, we need to be educated and at the very least, consume less.

The relationship that Fiona and Encana formed was initially, one of mutual trust.  Of course, Encana provided a particular income to her family as compensation for the efforts to collect energy from the farm lands that gave less than profitable results from grain farming and cattle.  But, once fracking had taken place, the water was left, BURNING! And in my opinion, from that point, both Encana and the Alberta Government proceeded to fail this family! See this documentary!  Find it here.

Autumn Hours: At the Bow River

Rose Hips

 I doddled at the river today.  I thought that cleaning the house was something I could do in the winter.  It was so absolutely important to take in the beauty of the river; the air was intoxicating.  Everything took pause. 

And then, there was an explosion of energy as I threw the stick into the water and shouted, “Get it, Max!”

Pathway Through Tall Thistle

 
The Texture of Today

I had that sense that I was in the presence of a secret intruder…a coyote? a monster?  that strange ‘thing’ that visits you when you are on your own in nature!

Come on, Mom! Let's get to the river! YIPPEE!

 Once to the river, we find the fishermen and the boats floating smoothly with the current.

I love our home and feel blessed!

 Glorious Days!

Golden Arms

 Miles of river, winding.

MMMMMmmmmm.

 

Travel: North on Superior

Early Morning...The Beginnings of Lake Superior

 

The thing about taking the northern route around Lake Superior, going West, is that for so much of the drive, the lake is visible.  When I drove east, I couldn’t crank my head around to see the vistas and enjoy the water.  Going west, as I traveled downhill, there was a vast expanse of water on the horizon and it seemed surrealistically HIGH, deep turquoise ribbon pushing up against the sky.  It was like looking at the mountains on one of those days when they are giants on the horizon.  Rolling at 90 kms an hour down any of these hills, tall rock cliffs edging either side of the highway, made photography an impossibility.  And now,  writing about the beauty of it is equally frustrating.   I pulled over and snapped this shot on one of the short flat places on that second morning.  I had been in awe of the light, rock and water for about one hundred kilometers by this time.