Walking home today in the sunshine I have to take my teal jacket off and tie it around my waist so I can breathe. It's the first day of teeshirt weather and people are sleeveless down the ski hill, the music blasting as I walk by. I heard on the radio this morning that this is the second or third warmest Saskatchewan winter on record. "You sure picked the right winter," is what people say after they ask if I'm still walking.
Moira's gone for a sleepover and Arwen has a friend over. We have salad and leftover spaghetti for supper and get ready to go to an Open Mic at the Old Central School which has been turned into the Qu'Appelle Valley Centre for the Arts. The room is packed, wall to wall and standing room only. There are a few spots left on the sign up sheet; Scott Fulton, my friend and the host for the evening asks if I want the spot right at the beginning, after he opens. Sure, I take it in case the girls need to get going. We find seats for my nine year olds, they load a plate of goodies, and we settle in for some music.
Scott opens with an honour song, of sorts. It's a prayer, of sorts, that the evening will go well. Then he sings a song he wrote during a Rediscovery Camp he attended in BC which led participants into a rediscovery of the land and the self and the community. Scott's light shines into the seventy or so souls. He introduces me, followed by cousin Brian on the Chaman Stick, then Jayne Whyte, who reads her poem of the day her Wine Colour Nisan was hit by an honest-to-goodness Red River Cart, then Mike and Madona from Fort Music play some Bluegrass Gospel. We sing along, but the girls are restless, so I leave, snapping a few pictures of Tim Keepness looking all Johnny Cash on the stairs. I'll be back in time to hear him nine on the list of ten.
Later Scott chases Tim down the street and asks him to shift up in the program before he has to leave. Brian meets me at the door and tells me Tim was amazing, just playing one song and pouring his heart out. Tim is leaving, cowboy hat on, harmonica at his neck, guitar on his back. I tell him I'm sorry I missed him. He pats my shoulder, "It's okay," he says as he walks out the door. Tim's the real thing, raw voice, raw story. I remember sitting next to his big voice, trying out my new harmony, the fire crackling.
Bless you kids on the ski hill
last days of winter
spring and summer
at the end of the slope
Bless you Scott, Brian, Jayne
Mike and Madona
Bless you Kelly Okanee
I remember your long hair
I hope you are still dancing
Bless you Ellen who sat in the front row
sang along as I played Buffy Sainte Marie
Angela and Kate who stood at the back with me
Keitha, who left early, too.
Bless Qu'Appelle Valley Centre for the Arts
Bless Char and Sierra and Mercedes
who opened the door
for a DQ run
Bless the cousins
Bless my family
Bless the elders
Bless the artist and child in each one.