north shore – week seven [final week]

Well, I would consider this a bittersweet moment, but more than anything I’m just excited.

North Shore’s field component is finished, and now I get to work on pulling the album and video content together. Most of the uncertainty and apprehension about the musical content is gone, and I get to tinker away and watch in excitement as the pieces of the project develop and come together.

That said, now’s a chance to reflect on these past seven weeks and to take a little amusement in the fact that most things I was afraid could go wrong didn’t, in fact, go wrong, and instead I stumbled on plenty of wonderful little things I never anticipated.

On two occasions, people nearby came over and said something to the effect of “we really like your music, and we made some extra food, would you like some?” When “your music” is probably better described as “early-stage repetitive noodling and definitely not an actual song yet”, hearing that people like what you’re playing is very reassuring.

A little story, here. Bear with me.

Before I left for the summer, my sister mailed me a parcel containing a stack of individually sealed cards. I hope she doesn’t mind me posting this – I like to brag about how cool my sister is, so it’s all good (hey Meg, I know you’re reading this!). Now, when we were much younger we mailed each other letters when one or both of us went out of town for a summer. This was probably just before cell phones were a thing; even if not, we probably thought handwritten letters were still a cooler way to correspond. Anyway, my sister mailed me this parcel full of cards with things like “open when you’re happy”, “open when you’ve had a great day of work”, “open when it’s been raining for days”, “open when you’re frustrated” … you get the idea – so it would sort of feel like she was there keeping me company. I really looked forward to opening them when the opportunities presented themselves.

Then, on my last day, I realized I had missed one card in the stack: “open when you have a cool experience”. The project had been full of cool experiences, but I’d forgotten that was one of the cards. And even if I’d remembered –  after which “cool experience” would I have decided to open it? So many cool things happening, and only one “cool thing” card. So, I sat down with my journal (which is actually a “page per day” Moleskine day planner, which is awesome, in case you were wondering), and wrote all the cool things I could remember happening since July 5th. It became a very long list, and what had sort of become a congested blur of events in my recent memory shifted into more of a narrative as all the awesome things came back to me.

And so, I’m going to share a few of the things from the journal. I could go on forever, but I won’t. Some of you need to go to bed in decent time tonight, I’m sure.

“… Trying to record loon calls at Sleeping Giant, but never having the gear running to catch the best one. Maybe it was better that way; I’ll remember how the most amazing ones sounded, and it’ll be a secret memory just for me. My beautiful site at Rainbow Falls (I had the best spot in the campground) [no, I’m not telling you which one it was]. Discovering a love of instant ramen, while sheltered under the back hatch of my car in a vicious thunderstorm. Recording the perfect pass-by of a train at 11PM in the pitch black. Warming up by the fire after a cold day writing by the lake. Discovering the Pic Island lookout and understanding how Lawren Harris would have felt the first time he saw it. Recording a thunderstorm in a downpour at the Neys point. Stargazing at Agawa Bay, not knowing there’d be a meteor shower. Befriending a raven at Old Woman Bay [it literally followed me around for an afternoon]. Time-lapse recording fascinating cloud patterns. Making pancakes at Pancake Bay. The feeling of small victory when I finished a song. Well, they may be small victories, but they feel like shifting a mountain when they finally come together …”

Before I sign off here, I want to thank you – yes, YOU, person who is reading this post! – for reading my blog. I assume if you’re reading this, you’ve probably been following along since earlier in the summer (and if not, why are you starting here? Start at the top!) and I can’t quite express how pleased I was to hear that people were reading what I had so enjoyed writing.

I want to thank and acknowledge the Ontario Arts Council for financially supporting my project. I also want to thank Ontario Parks and Parks Canada for making the field component easy to carry out in the parks I wanted to visit, and giving me the opportunity to capture them in recording and film. All the staff I encountered in the parks were such a pleasure to deal with, and I even made a couple new friends along the way which, when you’re camping alone for seven weeks, is a really nice thing to have happen.

I’m giving a performance in the campground at Sleeping Giant Provincial Park on Saturday September 22nd. The album, of course, won’t be finished by then, but I’ll be sure to play some material from it!

I hope you’ve had fun following along on my weird adventure.

And now, your last batch of photos:

1. Pancake bay dunes. 2. It’s fall now. 3. Pancakes at Pancake Bay, duh! 4. Interesting dead tree in a fen. 5. Warming up. 6. Home in time for a gig at the Foundry a couple nights ago. 7. Album cover? (Taken by my sister Megan!)