The Stories come seeking

Stories that want to be told come in through the eastern window in the morning, or sometimes down onto the roof with the rain.

There’s a beautiful one that follows me everywhere I go now, about the water that washes the eastern shore on Georgian Bay and how that is like, and also not like the ocean that kisses and smashes and chortles the eastern shores of the Shetland Islands. This story is long like a river that runs deep then dives deeper, to run beneath the desert.

There’s another about trumpeter Swans who were many, then few, then gone for a hundred years, hunted into oblivion by europeans. Now the imprint of those wild ones on the land teaches the new, tame ones how to be who they are. The tame ones teach the humans to be …better.

There are the stories a Mother Tree whispers to me – the one that once grew right here, the beating heart of the great breathing forest that lived – lives! she says – along the flanks of Lake Ontario, sheltered by the arms of the limestone escarpment.

They come in the window and through the roof with pictures and sounds to show me. Listen. Can you hear this? Can you see how this is, how it connects with that? Look at this marvel! Listen.

And so I get to work, and write. Draw containments for these, paint them, sing them, play them.

I’ve just sent two applications in to Banff Centre for the Arts for month long residencies this year, timed after my commission work has been completed and distributed with love.

What I’ll build at the Banff residency is a visual language that matches the stories that come in, asking to be told. I’ll work with colour, water, gravity, resist, paper and time. The musical language will develop too – downstairs in the room I’ve made for it, in car rides between here and my cabin, and on the road between here and Banff this summer and early fall.

That Banff Centre will of course choose to invite me or not; I’ll know by May. If not Banff, then from a back yard studio in Vernon, or a cabin on Lake Superior. From the blue artist’s studio at the edge of the ocean in the Shetland Islands. Either way, the stories will be told, and I will find a visual and musical language for them. This is the road I’ve chosen.

I will need help. I can’t tell the stories the way they’re asking to be told, without readers, without input, without research and connection, without funding assistance. Without performance venues, walls to hang the work on, other artists to work with and pay with respect, audiences to sing the music with. Without a family of collaborators.

Become a Patron

This is a link to my Patreon site, where you’ll find some options for collaboration with me and these stories. Benefits, too, as sincere tokens of my appreciation and love. If you join me as a patron, I will take you with me on the road, into the studio, the residencies, the water, the forests. Your story will mingle and connect with these ones, and you will be included in the books, songs and paintings that will be made. You will have my rich and enduring gratitude and love.

Most of the content on this website will continue to be free. I’ve been writing here for ten years and many life changes, and I love the connection it provides. Please consider, though, that this space takes great time and effort to build, develop, evolve, enrich. If you feel inclined to support this, even for the cost of a good coffee every month, the space and the work I do will only get better.

I am and will continue to be eternally grateful for your collaboration and support. Nothing in this world happens in isolation; we’re all in this together.

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This surprising year.

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This morning’s write is populated by a surprising jumble of images – the giant blue Christmas bulbs on the giant tree at the Distillery District’s outdoor Christmas market. A market that featured a Christmas Angel who wandered through big fat snowflakes and the crowds, occasional a capella singers, a snow-covered booth selling mulled cider and warmed the whole area with the smell of cinnamon, apple, nutmeg.

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Warm sunlight through the golden curtains of the curved tower room windows, spilling over the shoulders of my lovely daughter and across the old worn carpet. The clink of cutlery on breakfast dishes, cup on saucer beneath the rise and fall of engagement, conversation. The simple happy of my Mother’s rich red sweater.

A painting of Guido Fox on the wall at The Duke of York. Ah. He was Spanish. Of course he was – why else would his effigy be burned in ritual these past 413 years, by inebriated English people?

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The welcome pause there, the sprint-walk back past Margaret’s house to the B&B, the gathering of family from across the city, our arrival like love spilling from the car and through the door, the all hands on deck preparation of feast, the sit down in gratitude and conviviality.

Between us, ten countries and four continents traveled. Gathered at table from five different cities. All of us altered, in this surprising year.

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The Shape of Water – with courage, we find a way to move into what we love, no matter how fearsome or impossible the obstacles seem. Thank you Del Torno, for giving us this beautiful tale of a specific kind of defiance.

Let the lanterns be lit and set on the sill.  Like thoughts, like mulled cider to warm those we love who cannot join us in body, but join us nevertheless. 

I’m going to savour every one of these final days of the decade, the surprising year of 2019. May we all find a way to move into what we love. Happy Solstice, everyone.