March 03, 2010

Home and its abundant joy

After an early morning drive from Prince Albert to Saskatoon – and following a long flight delay – we departed for home. A bit of concern in making the connecting flight from Toronto to Halifax, but we made it – not without some frantic hustling and hearing my name called over the announcement system. When one hears “urgently paging”, followed by one’s name, one runs. Even if they are in the bathroom searching for paper towel with which to dry ones hands. Such was the situation in this instance. It came to me in a flash that dry was not necessary to fly.

It’s a singular joy to arrive home to a sparkling house, fresh floweres, a nice Pino Noir, a tasty little snack and fresh sheets on one’s own bed. Even better is to rise, have familiar coffee, find two New York Times crosswords (saved from the Saturday papers), and then discover that the basement landing had been cleared of all bottles and cans that awaited recycling. Best, to go to the basement to notice it’s been tidied, cleaned and organized. How good and satisfying, and for all this I’m grateful.

To me, this was a happy tour. Going into it, none of us knew how it might be  –  how we would travel together, how the work would be divided and completed, if we would get along. Turns out we travelled well together, we did our respective jobs with no question or fuss, we got along splendidly. There were many, many laughs and even some great meals, considering all the traveling we did through remote areas. Sometimes good coffee was beyond easy access, but it made arrival at a Starbucks-like establishment an great occasion.

My compatriots, Raylene, Cindy and Clarence, were easy travel companions and colleagues. The shows went pretty well, every one in its own way. With one or two exceptions, accommodations were comfortable. One place was a bit dodgy, but the welcome was warm.

One place was not so dodgy but the welcome was cool,  and the coffee – supplied by the roaster one block away – cost $3.30 per cup. As Clarence and I were leaving our breakfast table, Cindy had come to the dining room to grab a coffee to take to her room. We chatted a bit, and she decided might as well take two coffees, thereby saving a trip downstairs. Cups in hand, she politely asked how much she owed. The response was “$6.30” “Pardon me?” said Cindy, and the young woman re-calculated. “Oh, I’m sorry – I made a mistake” she said. “It’s $6.60”.  It seemed that every “Could I…? Would it be possible…? Are there any…? Could you please…?”  was met with a half-smile and a sorry little “No” accompanied by a pathetic head-tilt that seemed to suggest an tacit understanding of the disappointment the requester would experience. However, the promise of hand-milled soap was kept and there was a Saltine-sized wafer of it in each room. I would have traded it for a private bathroom, I can assure you. The lasting upside, though, was the re-telling of the story which was revived regularly. We would often answer requests with a sorry little “No” and tilt our heads in sympathy.

However, one good thing about that particular brief stay is that my dear friends, Stephen and Lorne, showed up unexpectedly and arranged a nice little after-show snack and beverage. How they did it, I’m not sure. I expect money passed hands. I’m absolutely certain no violence occurred.

There were many other running jokes and routines, but they fall into the “had to be there” category. Will I include them here? Well, I must say “No” and tilt my head in sympathy.

The weather was unseasonably warm and fine. The clear days allowed us to see the breathtaking beauty of Southern Alberta, and BC. The foothills of the Rockies are soul lifting, and especially beautiful this time of year, with a skiff of snow and golden grass poking through it. I think it was Geronimo who said that horses made the land more beautiful and he was right. Whenever horses were visible from the van, a little stir of excitement lifted the whole experience a bit, as if there had been a sudden burst of extra beauty erupting for our additional pleasure. The Foothills, the Rockies, the Cascades, the Arbutus and Redwoods of the coast, the plane-flat fields leading to North Saskatchewan – they made the long drives pleasurable.

The folks at all the venues were beyond welcoming. Food, hot and cold drinks – some providing hot meals. No complaints. And the audiences were responsive and enthusiastic.

I would be hard pressed to recall a better group experience, although traveling with John Reischman ranks high not only for his musicianship, but also his uncanny ability to sniff out great food and lead us to it.

We parted last night and returned to our respective homes. All happy to be back, I suspect. I know I’m happy to be here, but will look forward with joyful anticipation to the time when we can do it again.

Hope no one tilts their head, smiles a little and says “No”.


One Response to “Home and its abundant joy”
  1. Jane Greening

    So glad all went well. Rest up.