January 19, 2020

I wasn’t going to write today, but here I am, a glass of Malbec to my right, and so much to think about.

Today would have been my brother’s 66th birthday.  I turn 65 in May.  He and I were so very close.  It pains me that we didn’t share as much in our later years.  He became a private man.  Still, we made time to share good meals with friends.  We enjoyed live music together.  We were both very proud of our city.  I love all of the growing-up memories of John.  He was sometimes rebellious.  He was robust.  He was quite a live wire.  I like the memories of him grilling steaks and burgers.  He knew what he was doing there.

I have been thinking about John all week.  Birthdays celebrated with families are so special.  He should be here to celebrate with us.  Now, he is ‘with us in spirit’.  That’s something people say…but words like that just crack open my heart and cause it to bleed, all over again.  I feel bad for people who try to make just the right remarks when you’ve lost someone you deeply love.  I’ve often been one of those people.  Let’s face it, there are no really helpful words.  Best to just say ‘I’m sorry’.  I don’t blame or judge people for things that they’ve tried to say.  I know that their intentions are good.  Grief does weird unbelievable things to a person.  There’s no real understanding it.  I miss John, though, every day…just as I miss my mother.

Family went out for lunch together.  I liked being with John’s son.  We were ‘hospice buddies’ and call ourselves that to this day.  There’s no way that one can know what that experience is like until one might find themselves living it.  I take a moment as I’m typing and lift a prayer for families who are in the midst of all of this.  I take a moment and pray for the beautiful hearts who give palliative and then hospice care…and the nurses…the doctors.  A tear drops.

Our family was the very best through the pain of losing John.  If family does work.  We did our best work through that time.

My grandson broke out into a lively version of happy birthday when he received his vanilla ice cream on dry ice.  He even got the part about ‘Uncle Johnny’.  His timing was impeccable.  A Moxie’s lunch to celebrate my brother was the perfect choice.

From the lunch and our good-byes, I had to head right for the river.  For one thing, the temperature was steadily moving up and was -11 when I pulled up in front of the house.  I can clear my head at the river.  Through John’s last months, I always felt uplifted while at the river’s edge, even on particularly difficult days.

I first walked along the bank in a north west direction.  Across from me, the beauty and tranquility of deer and geese.  After five days of -30 to -40 temperatures and a bad wind chill, it seemed that all of nature was breathing deeply in and breathing deeply out.  Such a lovely thing.  Interestingly enough, in the icy times of winter, I always notice that the deer consume the geese droppings.  Such was the case today.  Vegetation must be minimal by now and what better way to consume some nutrition!  Nature cares for itself in so many different ways.

Once heading south on the path, I saw the most remarkable moment!  In a flash, a coyote rushed out of the tall grass and a deer bound into the frozen river.  The coyote lurched to a stop on the very edge of the ice.  I was frozen…couldn’t move…didn’t even think about capturing the moment on my camera.  Too late, I recorded the challenging swim and the exit of the deer.  I watched until it found its way, some distance, up onto the snow.  It wobbled on the ice and then bolted for the cover above the bank.

I was relieved but remember pausing to wonder how all of the beautiful creatures that inhabit the river valley manage to eek out a living.

Continuing on my hike, I was mindful that the coyotes are hungry.  I figured that if one coyote came out of the brush, there was more than one.  They work diligently together in order to eat, especially in these circumstances of frigid temperatures.  Above me, I saw two.  Do you want to observe a coyote?  Listen for the Corvids…Magpies, Crows and Ravens all follow close behind them.

Sure enough.

I was pleased to observe this young beauty consuming something.  It was either a rabbit or a pheasant.  I could hear the pheasants articulating in the high brush as I made my way south.  As I looked closer, a Raven decided to finish the snack off and it appeared to be a rabbit.

Around this time, I bumped into Lloyd.  I really can’t believe the distance he walks down in this same spot, in fact, he goes so far as to cross the ice to the island almost every day.  He asked, in his jovial way, why he hadn’t seen me lately.  And I told him that apart from one day during the deep freeze I came down to make my typical observations.  He walked with me as far as the beaver dam.  Together, we looked at the reflections on the smooth pond ice.  He told me a story of skating ponds in his childhood….such magic!  As we walked, I told him about the incident with the deer.  We parted ways.  As he left, he said, “I hope you spot your eagles”.

The remainder of the walk was very peaceful.  I thought that I might discover more deer, given that the stressed white tail flew out from this side of the river, but no sightings.  Several beautifully large and articulating Ravens flew amongst the bare branches.  All was magical.  Then, as if from nowhere, the young Eagle appeared.  I haven’t captured any really clear photographs, but I would guess that it was either one of the one year olds from last summer’s nest, or a two year old.  The colouring was getting to be mottled.  One thing for certain, it wasn’t the Huntress, one that I expected to see.  A Raven flew in and gave this youngster some company for a short while.  Dad was no where to be seen.

This day was a beautiful day.  Again, it reinforced the fact that life is filled to the brim with both beauty and brutality.  We have no choice but to take it all and in whatever ways it makes its way to us.  We can control the ways that we respond, but apart from that, we should always keep a Plan B in our back pockets.

As I arrived to the spot where my car was parked, I looked down at my phone.  Doug sent a link to a marvelous series of photographs.  I think that the images exemplify everything I believe about nature, life and the wonder of it all.

If you have a chance, take a look.

Here at home, safe and warm, a friend from the river, fired off a message to me about a deer that was wounded and not standing, just beneath 130th Ave. She met Lloyd while out on her hike and thought that this deer was possibly the character from my narrative.  I will never know. Initially, I thought, by description, the deer was above the bank, but as the information became more clear, I learned that this deer is wounded and is out on the ice tonight.  It would be an impossible thing for anyone to assist it tonight, impossible to keep it from its suffering.  While this is upsetting to me and to my friends, we have sometimes no choice but to accept what we can’t control.  I’m hoping that the coyotes/eagles are able to make good use of its sacrifice.

This, it turns out, was quite a day.  Blessings to those of you who have sent wishes today.  Blessings on my father.

 

 

 

 

 

December 16, 2019 Insufficient Space on Memory Card

Nothing like clicking the camera and having this message come up.  I suppose, in some ways, a person should walk through life without space on their memory card, in order to be fully present.  So, I walked the rest of the crispy morning, without snapping and clicking and containing the magic of the landscape.  Instead, I considered the beauty of the Pileated Woodpecker and the bright flash of red through the hoarfrost to be a gift to me.  The morning was heavenly, on my side of the river.

I saw our adult Bald Eagle pretty quickly and snapped some shots as the fog off the river was quickly making its way toward me.  The sound of geese and ducks rose up out of the icy Bow River.  All else was silent.  These are the photos that I grabbed before my lens withdrew into my camera and my camera shut down.

The White Breasted Nuthatch was the best that I could get yesterday, when I left Max at home and did my walk by myself.

Weather and nature contribute to struggles…constantly, I’m reminded that life contains brutality as well as beauty.

Always trying for a good shot of a White Breasted Nuthatch, but never quite getting it.

In all of that blue, above, one can see a Juvenile flying over.  It’s wonderful that recently another birder-friend, Julie has sighted one of the Juveniles close, on our side of the river.  At least one of them has thrived thus far, through the wintry weather.

As I poured over my archives last evening, On December 15, 2018 I observed an adult Bald Eagle on the nest.  At the end of my walk this morning, I noticed that an adult had landed on the nest and was doing some shifting of the snow on its surface.  So many beautiful miracles at this nest the past six years!  It’s all so intuitive and spectacular to watch unfold.  Already, I’ve been given a promise of spring.

Esker Foundation is a Power House!

Some weekends, in Alberta, there is NO LIMIT to the number of events available to me, given that I’m interested in live music, books, art, theater and dance.  This past weekend was one of those for me.  I really wanted to see Billy MacCarroll’s Aftermath opening at Jarvis Hall, but will have to attend on my own.  The Glenbow opened its Sybil Adrews: Art and Life and ExtraOrdinary Objects exhibits.  The Bee Kingdom were hosting an open house…didn’t make that despite all of my good intentions.  A big one, Dave More: A Painter’s Gift, guest-curated by Mary-Beth Laviolette, happened in Red Deer on Sunday.  I’m happy to know that The Edge Gallery Calgary location is hosting an exhibit of David’s works, Hidden Within, opening on October 26 1-4.  And as I write this, I am reminded that I would love to see the recent works by Michael Corner that are on exhibit at The Edge Gallery in Canmore.  So…that list should demonstrate the dilemma.  And I know that it is only a beginning…we are so blessed in this province.

Did I mention that at the same time Wordfest was happening?  More on that later.

If you haven’t, try to make space to visit the Esker Foundation’s current exhibits and if possible, attend some of the engaging and inspiring programs.  Presently, Jeffrey Gibson: Time Carriers and Nep Sidhu: Divine of Form, Formed in the Divine (Medicine for a Nightmare) creates a rich dreamscape of texture and voice for the viewer. The work feels like a bridge between space and time, contributing to a bigger knowledge/experience of culture and collaboration. I find these exhibits intoxicating.

Almost soothing, the piece, Kablusiak: Qiniqtuaq located in the project space is best-seen in the night time as it becomes animated by the warm light of the projection and its complexities are more successfully captured.

On Friday evening, Jeffrey Gibson generously moved through a brief history of major bodies of work, beginning with the Punching Bag series and continuing to talk about abstraction, collaboration and garments.  It was very kind of Jeffrey to take the time to chat with us beyond question period, given that the garments and drums were being de-installed for the next day’s performance.  From Esker, Karen and I drove to cSPACE via a random path selected by Google Maps. (another story)  We were able to enjoy the work of artist and friend, Louise Lacey-Rokosh.  I met Louise some years ago at Gorilla House and I have enjoyed following her work.

I was blessed to have the opportunity to also enjoy Jeffrey Gibson’s performance piece, To Name Another, a piece that left me in tears three different times.  Did I take note of the words that most moved me?  No…  I think that the complete engagement in the sound/movement experience took all of us to a deeper place.  And while this might sound a little strange, that’s okay.

I continue to have a sense of wonder about the work that is on display and am looking forward to learning more about Nep Sidhu’s work and process.

Thanks to my sister-friends, Karen and Linda, for sharing in parts of this immersive journey with me this past weekend.   I enjoyed the yummy Ruben sandwich on the Spolumbos patio with you, Karen, on a perfect autumn day.  And Linda, I’m so happy that we had a chance to share deep fried dill pickles and a terrific Blues Jam and the Can.

A few images follow…I regret that I am missing the titles of the works below.  I will backtrack and complete the information as I collect it.  Initially, I have posted photos of some of the titles available that are linked to the subjects or interests of the artists presently on exhibit.  I really appreciate how the Esker always provides a reading list.

 

Belted Kingfisher

Autumn means chasing this guy around, trying to grab a focused photograph.  Some people play football.  This is my sport.  I could spend hours listening for him and then high-tailing it to his next location.  He plays catch-me-if-you-can and I can be heard in the woods, laughing out loud.  If anyone else was around they would wonder.  First, readers, take note of the Belted Kingfisher’s interesting sound.

Twice in the past two days, the Kingfisher has taken a place of importance, the high Y branch of the Bald Eagle family’s favourite tree.  First time, both Juveniles went at him.  I think that perhaps the Kingfisher was consuming a meal and the young eagles get pretty scrappy with the food of other river hunters.  Next time, the Sub Adult flew in, I suppose just to claim her dominance.

My visuals are all very unfocused, but I’m logging these here as a part of my birder journals.  This morning, in the fog, I also watched an Osprey dive, almost vertically, off of a tree and pounce upon a young Cormorant as he fished.  Life on the river is a bit of a dog-eat-dog world.  When I returned home, I saw that I got an unfocused capture of the Osprey leaving the tree.

The two juvenile Bald Eagles swooped into the scene, evicting the Kingfisher from prime territory.

He arrived at my side of the river, for only moments and I snapped this photograph, directly into the light.

Another visit to the river, and again, he chose prime branches.  Are you kidding?

In she swooped…and look, where the little guy ended up!

This morning, in the fog.

Life carries on, in all forms, at the river, but very different from only weeks ago.  The Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers are in greater numbers, as are the White Breasted Nuthatches.  The Northern Flickers swoosh down and up onto the Elms.  This afternoon, the subdued landscape was broken by a huge frenzy of vocalizations of coyotes on the island and the howls were returned in unison by the coyotes on this side of the river.  It was absolutely magical!

Osprey taking a dive, not for a fish, but for the Cormorant catching the fish! (Horrible photo alert!)

Juvenile Cormorant.  Doug Newman pointed out one time that some Cormorant species have bright blue eyes in this stage.  This is the best that I’ve been able to capture that.

And, what exactly is this?  Has this wee babe been abandoned by Mom?  What is it?

The elegance of the young American Robins, at this time, fills my heart, whenever I see them.

This past week might have been impacted by bad-weather days, but nature continues to amaze me, regardless.

The female Mallard keeps her kids in line.

I will continue to attempt a good capture of the Belted Kingfisher during the coming week.

BUMP!

The Beltline Urban Murals Project provided several offerings over the past few days.  My friend, Pat, and I participated in a tour that introduced us to the murals in east locations of the Beltline. We will have to see the murals to the west on our own. The weather was cooperative at the outset, but then we just got really hit with rain.  It’s interesting though, Pat and I never really get hung up about things when we are taking in an event of interest.  We just have fun.

Click on the blue links for artist biographies.  This is the third annual BUMP event to be held in Calgary.

Our meet-up was at the historic McHugh House.

First stop was Luke Ramsey’s work at Alpha House.  Luke is out of Powell River, B.C.

 Next stop was Lacey and Layla’s work.  They are out of Edmonton and Montreal.  I like the focus of their work.

Pat can be seen jay walking in the next photograph.  She is going to let me know (again) that she doesn’t like her photo taken.

This mural was a new addition to the line up and it was a really fun stop as two artists were working on this alley mural as we approached.  I believe the gentleman is RUNT. It can’t be easy painting that rough stucco surface with brushes.  I’m also guessing that this wall was in bad shape upon the outset!

As we left, I enjoyed the juxtaposition of the old ad. art work on the adjacent building.

This piece is going to be amazing and will cover the expanse of this wall.  It is based on a study done of buffalo hides and is connected with research at Blackfoot Crossing.  Typically, Guido Van Helten produces works that include large monochrome portraits, so this is a little different.  I’m excited to see this one finished.  

At this point, the rain was coming down.  Kevin Ledo’s work will take your breath away.  It is truly amazing.

The work of FATS is about freedom.  I like the vertical format of this one.  By this time, I was getting wet.  My umbrella was sitting in the back seat of my car, quite some distance away by this time.

From this point forward, I lost track of the artist’s work and will have to spend some time researching a wee bit.  I’m thinking that this one was completed by an ol’ Gorilla House friend of mine, Adam Zhu.  In fact, I own one of his pieces as commissioned in the day.  I’ll go take a look at his website.  Yuppers!  Congratulations, Adam!  Beautiful work!!

Mateusz Naperialski created a mural in close proximity to several others.  This little section was absolutely beautiful and the art was like eye candy.  I was really feeling for the organizers and events folks, as well as the DJs who were closing out the event.  What a time to have so much rain!

Labrona’s work created a beautiful welcome into the celebration area, fixed with fire pits, strung lights and spray paint demonstrations and participation.  So fun!  Food trucks are down there and I’m sure that the music is still playing.

Reza Nik’s bright yellow created a brilliant conclusion to our BUMP experience.  This is an event that is now on my radar and I will be attending in future.  Congratulations to all participants.  I’m thrilled that our city is energizing the visual.  It’s so important to all of us.

Pat, that was a good one, right??

Now, to curl up with some Netflix.

Days on the River

Early mornings on the river now reveal just how circular my own journey is and how natural death is to life. All life blooms, but also fades.  In youth, I ran toward the next Christmas and to the next Halloween and to the next grade and the next teacher and to a boyfriend and to a husband. Never would I suffer divorce. Never, in my imagination, would my mother die.  My brother would not die.  My life long friends would remain at my side always. The abundance of living well, seemed endless.

In reality, the magic that perches at the edge of the river demonstrates again and again that life transforms.  I look down at my own hands at this keyboard this morning and see this transformation in my self. I have no choice but to accept it, while at the same time, I have the opportunity to create magic in others and to watch life unfold in my children and in my grandson.  I also have the choice to embrace the beauty of another fading summer.

My circular walks at the river have healed me throughout this lush green often-wet summer.  I have watched closely as the adult Bald Eagles tended two eggs at their nest, saw them through the biting cold of spring when at last those eggs hatched and almost two months later two beautiful fledglings found their place in a brutal world.

Having watched this mating pair over several seasons, it was sad to watch the disappearance of Mrs., a week after the second youngster fledged.  She was such an inspiring raptor and was vigilant with the two young eagles, demonstrating fiercely, the skills that were intuitive and essential for their start in life.  She may have been evicted or killed and within days, a sub adult began to dominate the territory, eventually captivating Mr. who diligently fed and raised up his two progeny.

These days those same juveniles soar high above me, carving huge circles into a deep blue sky, utterly celebrating what it means to be Bald Eagles.  I sometimes find myself weeping at the enormous beauty of this passage of time as manifested in one little family at the river.

I no longer hear the sounds of the Red-Winged Blackbirds.  Theirs is the first song of spring.  And now, they are gone.  Where only a month ago the Yellow Warblers’ very particular song filled the woods, there is only the occasional flash of bright yellow in the low brush.  Mating and fledging behind them now, where do they disappear?  The sounds of geese returns after a month of silence.  The adult Mallards begin to separate from the juveniles now, after so many weeks of being alert and startling so easily.  The American Pelicans no longer rest in great numbers in the quiet eddies of the Bow.  The changes happen in subtle ways.  One beauty is replaced by another.

Now, the Cedar Waxwing juveniles are practicing flight in great numbers and every evening they are making loops out over the water and back, out and back, lighting in bare branches.  Adults remain vigilant.  Yellow Rumped Warblers have increased in numbers, likely just passing through, and Downy Woodpeckers, Nuthatches and Northern Flickers take up residence.  Many of them will winter here.

Wild Asters are in bloom for a second time and the Thistles are in seed.  Small water bugs fly thick and hover above the racing water.  The fish jump. Conversations with the fishermen include stories of Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout and Pike.  They pull out their phones and scroll through their photographs, proudly telling me their fishing narratives.  They  humour me with observations of the eagles.

The native grasses are now beyond my shoulders and the closeness creates that feeling of being watched, a mystical feeling of not being alone.  Sometimes, I look to the left and deer are perfectly still and their eyes meet mine.  Their eyes are pools of dark liquid, staring.  They do not move. We are captivated by one another.  If I move at all they flinch or huff and spook into the trees. The coyotes sulk into the tall growth and disappear.  It is in this stillness where I discover life, abundantly.  I look up and a juvenile eagle is peering at me.  The Grey Catbirds, now gone, would remain absolutely still as I slipped by.  The Eastern Kingbirds, showmen as they are, perform their antics with seemingly no fear.  Their numbers are also dwindling at the river’s edge.

Once, the stillness was broken by the loud slap of a beaver in the quiet eddy to the south.  Another time, with my back to the water, I heard a powerful bang and quickly pivoted around to see an Osprey lift up and out of the water, huge fish clutched in its talons.  The sounds at the river are mesmerizing…and now, with the tall grasses turning gold, those sounds can be very soft and comforting.

 

Tansy is changing from brilliant yellow to brown.  Leaves drift silently to the ground from the highest canopy.  I am in awe that summer is at an end.

Over the coming weeks, the Bald Eagles will eek out their place on the river.  Mr. will no longer provide the two youngsters with food.  He will evict them and they will begin their struggle to survive through another bitterly cold winter.  I don’t have any idea how to end this post because life at the river has no real end.  It is a place of beginnings.

I know this.  I know that we must challenge everything in the world that does not steward the land and the earth and the air.  Life is a brutal thing.  Death is brutal.  We must protect the little ones.  We must leave my grandson this beauty…I can not imagine him not knowing what a world of abundance we were given.

First Thursday @ the Glenbow Museum: August 1, 2019

My son, Pat and I attended the first Thursday event on August 1st.  Recently, this exhibit includes the work by the amazing Nick Cave.  I’m so happy that we had opportunity to enjoy this work.  Very provocative, unique and obviously born of tremendous industry.  There is also such depth of meaning and I’ve tried to include some of the background here.

Loved the piece, the Enchanted Forest!!

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In the second gallery space Ed Pien’s work, Our Beloved was a difficult piece for me to spend too much time with.  I actually spent some time thinking about Jordan Bearshirt in this space and my recent trip to Blackfoot Crossing to say prayers at his resting place…I snapped a few photographs while James and Pat chatted and then moved on.

Second Skin was most obviously about the artist’s embodiment of their art.  While the art was engaging, I felt unnerved or uncomfortable about it.  

First Thursday was a most wonderful evening.  I enjoyed the company of both Pat and James.  We wandered the gift shop for a while and I found some lovely books for my grandson, things that I’m certain he will enjoy.

I loved the conversation and the company.  Another great night in YYC!  I’ve heard many people complain that Calgary is a tough city for making connections or sharing in community.  My own experience is one where I simply don’t have enough time to take in all of the events that are absolutely accessible.  While the sprawl does create a physical distance between many of my friends and myself, it is always a good idea to meet in the middle.

I still enjoyed my time at the river, but at this time, already began to suspect that something was up with the female Bald Eagle.  Dad seemed to have assumed all of the duties and there was even the appearance of a sub Adult, maybe 3 or 4 years of age.  I took a close up shot of Dad’s talons to confirm that it was him, although I’ve become accustomed to his handsome face.

Two Ladies and a Little Boy Go to the River: July 25, 2019

Hours spent by the river are the best hours.  I hope and pray that my grandson will love and respect nature as much as I do.  I will do my very best to instill that in him by sharing my joy and delight in the textures, colours, sights, smells and sounds of natural environments.


Snake!  Gramma touch.

What a pleasure to make observations of the juveniles.  Dad is watching closely.

Two Ladies and a Little Boy Go to the Lake July 23, 2019

As Steven’s second birthday comes around, I realize that not only is my house needing a good clean, but I’m really behind in my archives.  I’m not writing as frequently.  I’m at a stand still in a lot of ways. I’m spending hours and hours at the river’s edge.  Here it is August 9, 2019 already and summer is whizzing by!  I will always look back on this staycation with gratitude.  I’ve been through a lot this past year and even some days during summer, I have experienced hardship and sadness as traumatic events lose their crinkles in my heart and flatten out where I can see them.  One after another, the memories of dark times are, in fact, smoothed out and my life of nature, art, friendship and love are able to create a blanket over them.

So, it was a fine morning on July 23, when Linda prepared us a nice picnic lunch and we three headed to the lake.  This is a year of construction vehicles and diggers and such marvelous observations at the neighbourhood school and on every roadway.  Even the back alley holds its charm.

I am grateful for Linda’s friendship and I treasure every special moment I am able to observe the world with my grandson.  Summer 2019

At the river, the family of Bald Eagles is observed with great respect and awe.  I view these with such love and feel that the narrative of this little family fills a hole in me, a cliche maybe, but I feel it is so and I sort of understand now why people use it.  Otherwise, it’s difficult to articulate what goes on when you lose someone special.

While of very poor quality because of distance, I post the photos of the two adults side by side here because these two are the last two photographs I captured of Mr. and Mrs. together.  This is their favourite perch.

Thank you, Ziggy!

There we were at Anderson Station, bright and early.  Pat was so very kind to share her Sunday tickets, a gift from Ziggy and family, with me.  I will always be grateful because Sunday ended up being a great day for workshops and new discoveries at the Calgary Folk Music Festival!

With an 8:30 departure, we found ourselves setting out our tarp and setting up our lawn chairs at the Main Stage around 10:00.  Again, we had a marvelous location and I felt really excited about what the day would hold.  I really enjoy Pat’s company, our conversations and the fact that we are both open to adventure and surprises.  We brought Pat’s treats for the first part of our morning…nummy B.C. cherries, moist rhubarb cake (love her baking!) a huge bag of Hawkin’s Cheezies and mints, (the hard candy type with the dab of chocolate in the middle).

Walking past the CKUA tent and on our way to the Rigstar Stage 5, we happened upon an interview with Ndidi O.  BAM!  What a magical start to our day!

It’s so strange to learn that my first connection with Ndidi’s music was so long ago!  And had it not been for the Calgary Folk Music Festival, I likely would have not enjoyed that encounter.  Music is always out there and it reaches into our hearts.  I can only imagine how much work goes into establishing and maintaining a career in music.  Thank you, Ndidi, for your heart.

After her song, Maybe the Last Time, Pat and I headed to our first workshop of the day, Hear Your Voice at the Rigstar.

This was an eclectic stage, so there wasn’t so much jamming as you might typically experience, but it was a beautifully supportive stage.  T. Buckley, Logan Staats, Beverly Glenn-Copeland and Ramy Essam…each one very unique in their approach to both song writing and performance.  This was an animated stage.  It was a perfect mix and the audience was receptive.  Ramy Essam and Beverly Glenn-Copeland were the surprises here.

Follow link here to read Beverly Glenn-Copeland’s biography.

Ramy Essam had a huge collaborative presence on the stage and on several others during folk fest weekend.  A great contribution.

We didn’t take much of a break because this stage set us up for a powerful day of music.  We headed for the Community Natural Foods Stage 6 and set ourselves down along the edge of the tent, but in the shade.  The stage show was titled Dance Hall Moonshine and indeed, it was a Dance Hall.  On stage; Ndidi O, Valerie June, Cedric Burnside and Yissy Garcia and Bandancha.  Cedric Burnside was the surprise here.  This show was full of strong beats and drew in the crowds.

 

We decided to grab our lunch from our Mainstage backpacks and to find spots at Stage 6 again, beginning with Calgary’s own Lab Coast.  We moved ourselves quite a distance from the stage because the sound seemed really big (too big)…so, we ate our lunch next to the new Cannabis Consumption site. lol  

Thanks to Wendy Lees, for the beautiful salads that she shared with me the evening before, at the Ironwood Stage and Grill.  I felt like we took a big step up from folk fest food with these nice packed lunches.  And congratulations to Wendy on her summer tour of the Custom Woolen Mills and the Dancing Goats Farm.

At 1:55, Fantastic Bombastic began with me moving into a central position under the tent.  I knew that this would be a lively stage, featuring musicians; The Harpoonist and the Axe Murder, Sam Lewis, Reel in Dimes and Freak Motif.  And it was lively!  What fun.  This stage got the win for the greatest collaborative jams…there was such chemistry, while all-the-while each musicians particular genre and music was evident.  Everyone in the tent was up and moving.  It was a very powerful experience.

This stage was the highlight for me.  I had marked Beverly Glenn-Copeland’s concert on my map, for 2:20, but there was no way I could see myself leaving bopping stage!  Grateful that I caught him in the morning.

Folk fest requires that I enjoy several rituals throughout its course, but given the usual four days, these rituals can be spread over the entire festival.  This year, given two days, provided by dear friends, Linda and Pat…I couldn’t possibly do everything.  I didn’t take time in the merchandise tent this year, nor did I visit the artisan fair.  I did, however, take note of what activities were happening in the children’s section as I imagined my grandson attending next year.  One has to prioritize.  I didn’t miss iced cold lemonade though and Pat and I got a cup on our way to the Field Law Stage 3.

I thought that because this was Pat’s first folk fest experience, we should go into the Field Law via the beer gardens.  Now, typically, folk fest sees me enjoying a single cold beer at this stage.  But this year, oh my, given that the Field Law is physically open to the beer gardens, I found it extremely crowded, elbow to elbow and very noisy.  Standing room only was located directly in front of the biffs.  It just wasn’t my cup of tea although it was evident that the music was phenomenal.  I sat for three songs and Pat stood where space was more available on the outside fringe.  She was such a good sport.  At this stage; Hamsa Hamsa, Ramy Essam, Mdou Moctoar and Cedric Burnside.  I was happy that we had earlier enjoyed two of these.

Off we went to the National for Channel Crossers; Jon Langford’s Four Lost Souls, Mekons, Colter Wall and We Banjo 3.  In the intense heat of the day, Pat was very observant and found us comfy seats under a tent, compliments of the National.  Wowsah!  What luck!  It was under this tent that a former student dropped by and grabbed a hug and our annual selfie.  It always seems I bump into Brent at folk festival.  So wonderful to see these young kids grow up!  This stage was a bopping Celtic sort of country blend.  The sound wasn’t good, although the National stage is usually pretty good.  The standout for me, here, was We Banjo 3.  They engaged the audience and got things bopping.  We greeted Colter Wall after the performance.  We thought he was very brave during the stage performance as his placement with the other musicians didn’t seem to be very well thought out.  Sound for his very traditional country music was better at the evening stage, but again, not my cup of tea.  It’s obvious there is a huge following of this 24 year old’s music, regardless.   

By this time, it was time to head for the ATB Mainstage where the lineup included Della Mae, Valerie June, Colter Wall and the finale The Strumbellas.  I really found Valerie June was one of the most unique artists, with a very beautiful presence on stage.  Funny how she stepped out, put her big green bag down next to the drummer and when she left, she said, “good night” and went and picked up her bag and walked off.  No messing around. 

Pat and I went, during Colter Wall’s performance to seek out french fries and coffees and returned to our spots with gigantic hot dogs from the Red Wagon food truck.  Mine was slathered in cheese, sauerkraut and onion…the onion slightly undercooked.  We chowed down while watching Colter’s fans completely engage his music.  His vocals are his strength, but for now, he is delivering a lot of covers.

The finale act was very entertaining and the entire island was moving rhythmically side to side and singing along.  I love folk fest evenings…the brilliant sky fading from blue to darker blue to black…the lantern parade…huge bubbles spilling into the air…beach balls bouncing through the crowd and finally, on the evening of the 40th anniversary, fireworks!  Hugs from friends, Jocelyn and Mark…and we were on our way…another beautiful folk festival thanks to my friends.  We crammed a lot of music into our day!  Thank you, Pat.  Thank you, Ziggy.  Thank you, Ziggy’s family!