Summer Mutterings

Happy Canada Day!

This is the first one in 20 years that I haven't been playing and therefore the first I've been able to attend the local festivities on the island. There's nothing like Small Town.

As a Canadian who specifically chose this country, I feel particularly grateful that this is my home.

In May of 1970 I was just finishing up my first year of college. Frankly, I was a pretty pathetic student and barely made it through my first semester of courses recommended by the system, but in the second semester I decided to take the courses that truly interested me - all music and art. I loved it, and for the first time in my life was excelling in school. 

I was still living at home but my mother was off traveling in Europe, so I was enjoying some faux independence. I was involved with a group on campus that regularly participated in marches and demonstrations in support of ending America's involvement in the war in Vietnam. And then, a few weeks before the finish of the school year, the unthinkable happened - Four students were shot and killed, and many more wounded, by the National Guard at Kent State in Ohio while protesting the war just as I had done so many times. Suddenly, being on a college campus in the U.S. felt like a dangerous place to be. With no one at home to influence me otherwise, I made the impulsive decision to pack up the VW Fastback with everything I might possibly need, and high tail it to Canada. 

Now, it may have been my confessed lack of acumen as a student, or perhaps the dearth of Canadian geography in the US school curriculum, but as far as I knew, Canada was simply vast wilderness where anyone could go and homestead. No cities - just the wild green yonder in which to stake ones claim. (The ignorance is shocking, I know.) I packed two books - "How to Build a Cabin In The Woods" and "How to Build a Teepee" (always one to keep my options open) and everything else I thought I might need for my new life, and hit the road.

Needless to say, when I drove into Vancouver I was mighty surprised. And though it had the hallmarks of all the other American cities I'd been in, it immediately felt different... Friendlier, kinder, and with a tinge of antiquated British charm. I was enchanted. I was home.
I was also technically driving my mother's (2nd) car and finding the VW missing on her return from Europe was not responded to favourably. (Come to think of it, she didn't seem to be too upset about the AWOL daughter - probably darn ready to have her last child out of the nest - but the car was another story.) Back to California I went, just long enough to turn around and hitchhike back to Vancouver and ride my bicycle back to Marin. The next couple of years involved a circuitous route through stints in Eugene, Boston, and Berkley before finding my way to my first Canadian home on the Sunshine Coast and on to music. My family thought it was a bit crazy at first, but by the time Bush was elected a second time they were downright envious. So thank you for having me and letting me be a Canadian. And thanks to the US for still welcoming me.

Well, bring things down to earth from the intoxication of the birthday party we do have a few problems up here. As we watch the erosion of the government's support of education, healthcare and the arts - all the things that allow humans to live healthy and inspired lives, the economic and environmental values of the Harper reign are continually disappointing to put it mildly. But other than that, party on Canada!

Happy Trails to you and please keep in touch,

Julia GraffComment