Rolling out of Fort St. John, I take in a little sprawl on the highway. It's a boomtown, not a pretty town. Oil and booze have left their smudges on this place- and indeed they are never too far from the surface here to extract at a glance. Quite by accident I have breakfast with an Inuit throat singer and healer. I come away feeling a little charged. Like the blues, or moreso, throat singing is or can be healing music. The throat singer tells me that when she was young she used to sing casually, but now her singing is more "purposeful." I like that word today, and I am carrying it with me like a gift. It's a little jewel I am turning around in my brain as I navigate these winter roads.
I really can't capture it well. I am reminded of taking pictures on my first visit to the Grand Canyon. Any three or four of them would of been fine. Fifty of them all look the same! You can just keep on grabbing images until they lose their meaning. Life is like that, too, perhaps. There are signs along the way warning of the impending battle against flooding this historic valley for a giant hydroelectric project. The concept shocks me, but I reflect that humans have long done this kind of thing. And what are the arguments? Human needs— consumption– vrs vast beauty. And beauty, as always, a fluid concept, perhaps more a Platonic form in the mind of the beholder, transitory, sometimes a memory, sometimes like bold fingers reaching to touch you in special ways in special places.
Nobody seems to know what Hudson was hoping for. Perhaps it, too, lies hidden and ripe in this valley, ready for drowning.
The afternoon seems to be turning. These days are short, and a blue tinge reaches out across the snow.
But now, a solar encore. There's a tremendous glare as the road twists to point directly at the sun. I am reminded of one of Huxley's books, (no, not Huxley... who?) where the narrator concludes the story by staring into the sun, destroying his eyes. I'm wearing shades and using the sun visor to try and avoid this kind of conclusion! I'm not at all weary of this world, although it is getting harder to see sometimes.
Chetwynd ahead. I roll through and search for my destination address. Remarkably, my GPS takes me right to the edge of the long and twisting drive to the Round House.
There's nobody about and no lights on. Just a huge dog barking at me. I do as I've long learned to do in the southwest– wait in the vehicle for a respectful period of time when approaching a country home. If there is someone at home, they will know you've arrived, and they will have a few moments to compose themselves and make ready to greet you. I've also learned that you don't get out of your vehicle unless there is an owner for any roaming guard dogs!
I sit outside the house in my car for two hours before someone comes out, calls in the dog and welcomes me to Chetwynd. It's not too cold, but I'm glad to get inside and set up for this evenings show.
The house is pretty nice— round, with big thick walls. It is also a good deal larger than it looks in these pictures. My host, Ian, makes coffee, a bite to eat, and before I know it the place is filled with people. Folks have come up from Dawson Creek, down from Fort St. John, Hudson's Hope... Wow. I better be good, eh? I'm a little surprised that everyone has been able to find this very rural location on such a dark Tuesday winter night.
The show is really fun this evening. I have a great time, and am so busy socializing between shows that I don't sell any cd's! However, I do make a pile of new friends– which is actually even better.
At the end of the night Ian and I hang out. I have a glass of wine, and listen to some of his songs! Ian is a fingerstyle musician and teacher who is well known up and down the valley. I'm quite flattered that so many musicians actually came out to the show this evening.