It wasn’t the first time I’d done a musical pilgrimage. Years ago, during a road trip to visit our friend Sheryl in New York, my sister, her kids and I travelled back up through Woodstock, and then tried our damnedest to find Big Pink, but there was some missing link in the road signs (we suspected perhaps the current home-owner might have caused this) and we just couldn’t find it. Many do it. Music, like all art, is a spiritual experience. And if music affects you as deeply as, say, Music from Big Pink or The Basement Tapes did Cathy and I, then you’d seize any opportunity to be in that place where it was created or inspired. It adds a whole other layer to the musical story and your experience of it.
So here I am in the beautiful town of Jasper and I realise Pyramid Lake is just a short jaunt out of town, and I have to go because it is at the centre of one of my long-time favourite Blue Rodeo songs, the trippy and joyful Cynthia. While here I learn that Jasper National Park is the world’s second largest dark sky preserve, and so how could star gazing in a place like this not inspire a beautiful song like that?
My mind is glad to wake but my eyes are not, and they do their best to stay closed against the brightening window. I try to focus on some fat steely looking clouds hovering there, my eyelids protesting while I try to gauge the direction of their journey across the sky, but they are moving so slow my eyes won’t stay open long enough to judge. Opening them again, a beefy face underneath a newsboy cap emerges in the heavy grey mounds, and it’s something to focus on. I watch the face and it watches me as it creeps south toward the lake, past my window and out of sight, presumably turning its attention to sleeping dwellers in the building across the street.
I lay there and think about that face for a minute, and then, eyes ready to receive the morning, open to see the sky now entirely blue beyond the window. I get out of bed and put the kettle on for coffee.
The spring sky beckons to the heart starved by a winter that overstayed its welcome. “You don’t need to escape the cold any more. Come on, linger a little longer…”
Every year I dislike this more:
This year it’s been relentless. I’m tired of your icy sidewalks. I’m tired of it hurting to just walk outside. I’m tired of your grey monotones. I’m tired of cold feet and numb fingers and whipping winds. I’m leaving you Toronto.
This morning I'm moving about my place, finishing coffee and packing things up for work, and I'm stopped still by the sun showing itself, suddenly, in a mirror.
"Good morning," the sun says. "What's your hurry?"
"I'm glad to see you too," I say.
This morning I get up and, waiting for the kettle to boil, I pull the curtains back and look out the window and find the photo of the day.
Hello Thursday. I'm glad to see you.
Lovely Sunday morning and there's a fair bit of loafing around, reading, making luscious breakfast, I mean brunch, editing photos and eventually getting showered to go out and catch up with the Santa Claus parade making its way down toward St. Lawrence market. As it happens, my fault, we don't get out the door in time and as we walk down Wellington Street, we find a lot of families heading home and what looks like a massive advertisement for Tim Horton's plastered all over the street. If what Tim's is advertising is garbage.
The crowds are a little less charming after the parade than they might be during the parade and it's a relief to duck into the cozy and quiet little Cést What for some fine ale and snack of warm cheese with carmelized onions, and warm pretzels and broccoli for dipping.
Later we walk home in the twilight and I'm thinking the colour of that sky is more beautiful than any old parade float any day.