it’s red-winged blackbirds this morning…

blackbird music

…as I sit on the little balcony outside our room in Salmon Arm, their music loud above the ducks and geese. Swallows dip and swerve. Last night, at intermission during the big reading opening the Word on the Lake Festival, I was in line for coffee and wait, was that Valdy next to me? It was. I was 17, I told him, when I heard you at the Shirley Hall near Sooke. You were wearing overalls and I probably was too. We reminisced about the Hall, the food, and he said, with a twinkle in his eyes, You must have been born in 1954. 1955, I replied. Imagine having that archive in your mind at ready recall. A life of concerts in venues all over the world and the one in the tiny Shirley Hall was there, its time and place perfectly remembered. I loved Sandcut Beach, I said, and used to camp there. I loved it too, he said, and once I showered under Sandcut Creek where it falls over sandstone to the beach. Me too! The sandstone is dense with fossils! Today I’ll ask him for his address and I’ll send him a copy of Winter Wren, my novella set on Sandcut Beach, its main character Grace a regular under the fall of the creek, and I even set an evening at at event at the Shirley Hall. A dance, one of the old kind, with fiddle music and a long table of food. Will you play “Renaissance”, I asked him, and he smiled the sweetest smile. Tomorrow night, he promised.


Let’s dance that old dance once more,
Still move as smooth on that old ballroom floor.
I’ll wear my Sunday best, you wear your faded dress,
Lock up the door, and let’s dance that old dance once more.


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