So late in the season. I woke early and am sitting at my desk, wondering how the months of summer could have passed, or gathered, so quickly. I know, I say this every year; but every year it’s true all over again.
Our Pender Harbour Chamber Music Festival has come and gone. All year we work on details large and small — reading with pleasure Artistic Director Alexander Tselyakov’s suggested repertoire for the 6 concerts over 4 days, arranging programme notes (thank you, Evan Hesketh!), finding places for the musicians to sleep and be fed (we have wonderful host families), writing and proof-reading the brochure copy and then the programme copy, putting into place the wheels (or notes?) that will carry the Festival smoothly from one concert to the next. On Thursday night we heard everything come together and we knew it would all work out, even if there might be glitches ahead. I thought I knew Vivaldi but oh, the Violin Concerto in D Major (“Il Grosso Mogul”), played so gloriously by Mark Fewer, David Gillham, Joyce Lai, Ian Clarke, Simon Fryer, and Alexander Tselyakov, was absolutely new to me. Its little phrases of Roma song, its mysterious allegiances to India, its amazing cadenzas which Mark Fewer gave full attention and ability to — wonderful. And listening to COULOIR (Ariel Barnes, cello, and Heidi Krutzen, harp) play Jocelyn Morlock’s Three Meditations on Light for violoncello and harp on Saturday night was a gift. I thought of Alice Oswald’s “Tithonus: 46 Minutes in the Life of the Dawn” with its expressions of day coming to life, light returning, the urgency of its argument with the night. Our Rising Tide initiative was very successful this year, with beautiful playing by Hanna Crudele, Rae Gallimore, and Jenny Dou. So a weekend of music, a weekend of festive activity (when else do I drink glasses of pink champagne in the afternoon?), and lots of work. After the last concert on Sunday, after the ticket tent was taken down, the chairs put away, the kitchen tidied by Ann Munro (who keeps everyone fed and watered), after some of the musicians had left to race to the ferry and others returned to their host families for a night of rest, we went to have dinner with our friends Robin and Jillian Ridington on their Nordic Tug, the SwanStar. Drank Prosecco with lovely cheeses and other nibbles, followed by steak grilled on the ingenious barbecue bolted to the side of the boat, toasting the meal with red wine, and talking, talking, talking, while the boat drifted in slow circles on its anchor, so that we were seeing the old net sheds on the edge of Whiskey Slough, then the big houses on the cliffs above Gerrans Bay, the remnants of old boats in the mud, posh sailboats and gillnetters pulling on their lines. Robin and Jillian are anthropologists as well as chamber music aficionados and I knew their books before I knew them. When You Sing It Now, Just Like New: First Nations Poetics, Voices and Representations. And most recently Where Happiness Dwells: A History of the Dane-Zaa First Nations. We talked of Dane-Zaa dreamers and shamen, grandchildren and food, books we’d read and were reading, and John and I left with the sense that our conversations with Robin and Jillian could go on forever.
In a few days, Forrest, Manon, and Arthur come for two weeks! Angie will join us for part of that. And while they are all here, we anticipate a phone call from Edmonton to say that another baby has joined our family, a brother or sister for Kelly.
Yesterday, as I stood on the deck and wondered how it had got so late, a cedar waxwing came to the mountain ash to feast on berries. It was so silky and slightly clumsy and when it turned to pluck from a low-hanging clump, I could see the yellow wash of its belly.
I know it’s not quite the end of summer, even if it feels that way. But fall is in the air. The winey smell of berries drying on their branches, rustle of leaves under foot, the earlier sunsets, the later dawns (I was up at 5 and it was still dark, though even three weeks ago, I could hear birdsong). Soon we’ll be feasting with some of our children, they’ll be heading lakeward every afternoon to plunge into the waters they’ve known since infancy, I’ll be listening for the phone call to tell me of another grandbaby, and then when fall actually comes, John and I will head off on a brief road trip so I can gather sensory detail for the novella I reluctantly put on hold at the beginning of the summer.