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Archive for January, 2012

Not Peru

January 21st, 2012

Hi Folks,

Here’s the fourth installment in my Winter Short Story Series telling the story of a long road trip across Canada. Scroll down to catch the earlier installments. Enjoy and feel free to share…

The rest of Ontario slid past my window like an old cassette skipping in the tape deck: trees, lakes, little houses with large trucks in the driveway, every hour or so a general store and a gas station. Occasionally, like a thundering refrain, a stacked logging truck passed us and my father would sweep away chunks of bark and woodchips with the windshield wipers. I knew, every time, that the smell of it took him back to his days working in the woods – planting and cutting, planting and cutting, life and death, life and death…

Eventually, the tempo quickened: less trees, bigger houses, cars made more for pleasure than hauling. Into Quebec where the Laurentian-style houses peeked out from under their curved eaves. Through Montreal where we dreamed of sesame bagels while locked in traffic. Passed the silhouette of Quebec City cut out against the reddening sky. And on to Riviere du Loop where we bought french fries from an old bus and slept in a chain hotel.

“Let’s find some place to get pancakes,” my father said the next morning. “There’s nothing like Quebec maple syrup.”

There was a small restaurant not far from the ramp back onto the Trans-Canada where an old lady in a yellow dress spoke in French and my father pointed to the photo of pancakes in the menu and held up his fingers to indicate two.

“I only learned the swear words when I lived in the Townships with your mother,” he admitted afterwards.

“Tell me one,” I whispered.

My father laughed. “They all have to do with the Church. I don’t remember.”

“Yeah right.” I fiddled with the brown napkin lying helpless at the side of my placemat. “You never remember the good stuff.”

“I remember the first time we tried to tap the maples,” my Dad answered, holding the glass bottle of dark syrup up to the light.

“You worked all spring and only got a liter of syrup.”

“Yes. Your mother made cheese blintzes and we ate about half of it that first night!” he laughed.

“Yeah, I know that one.”

We ate our pancakes then my father slapped twenty-five dollars onto the table and we snuck out before the French waitress could attempt to describe the exact amount of the bill.

“Can I drive?” I asked as we approached the Jeep.

“Not till New Brunswick,” may father answered.

“You said after Montreal.”

“New Brunswick is after Montreal.”

I rolled my eyes and rounded the back end of the car to the passenger side. A tall woman stood smoking with a leather leash hanging from her wrist. A black dog stared in the opposite direction the woman was blowing her smoke. Neither moved to acknowledge us, although they stood inches from where our front bumper aligned with the curb.

“French women,” my father said with a bit of a wink as we backed out.

“Yuck. How do you even know she’s French? She could be from Alaska or Peru for all you know.”

“Not Peru,” he said.

“Okay. Not Peru. But anywhere else.”

“Maybe.” He steered the old Jeep back toward the highway, glancing for a moment into his rearview mirror. “Did that sign say east?” he asked as we took a ramp onto the highway.

Est.” I exaggerated the accent.

So we headed east again. Toward New Brunswick and Nova Scotia and Cape Breton Island where I was born and where my father was too, in some ways I suppose.

Waywords Location #7: Seaside, Florida

January 18th, 2012

Some places I visit once and never wish to return to. But to Seaside, an 80-acre collection of white beach houses perched at the edge of the Gulf of Mexico in Northern Florida, I longed to return.


I stumbled upon Seaside, initially ignorant of its wealth in history and purpose, in 2010  when I was invited to play the 30A Songwriters Festival. 30A is a stretch of old County highway that parallels the white sugar-sand beach for about 30 miles. The Songwriters Festival fills little listening rooms all up and down the 30A for one weekend in January. They put me up in a beach shack in Seaside and I played three shows that first year.

In 2011, I returned as an Artist in Residence for the Escape to Create program and spent the month of January writing in a little house hugged by pine trees a few stone-throws from the beach. And, in 2012, I returned once again as a guest of the 30A Songwriters Festival. This time, I brought my typewriter.

Seaside was built on a dream, a theory. It looks at development and land-use from a community prospective: quaint homes nestle in around open green spaces, community gathering places, and a large central square, all within walking or cycling distance. Every east-west street culminates at the Gulf, and you catch a glimpse of the water, or at least a turquoise suggestion of it, from almost any interior intersection. Robert Davis, a renowned architect and a man I would meet several times during my stays in Seaside, founded the town in 1981 as model of New Urbanism. It has changed, of course, taken on some of the inevitable qualities of a tourist attraction since (especially after it was used as the location for the blockbuster film “The Truman Show”). But still, if you stand on Tupelo Street, among the little salmon-colored and white clapboard beach houses, and stare down toward the Gulf, you can sense the original idea: simple, natural, thoughtful, idyllic.

I placed my “Waywords” typewriter in the town center at Central Square Records and collected two full pages of typing. My little blue Olivetti looked at home there, surrounded by vinyl albums, hand-screened posters, and T-shirts with graphics from famous book covers. I almost bought the Walden one. It occurred to me later that Robert Davis and Henry David Thoreau would have had much to say to one another, and I considered for a moment inviting them both to dinner…

"Waywords" is supported by the Nova Scotia Department of Culture & Heritage

30A Songwriters Festival Brings Music to the Gulf Coast Again!

January 9th, 2012

I’m excited to announce that I’ll be returning to beautiful 30A for the 2012 30A Songwriters Festival this weekend. It will be a real pleasure to be back in that wonderful coastal community.

The Escape to Create organizers, who had me as an artist in residence last year, are also putting on a great event for me at Central Square Records in Seaside on Thursday. I’ll be reading from my recently released book “Creature of Habit” and playing songs from my new album “Creature”.

Reading & Performance
Thursday, Jan 12th 3-4pm
Central Square Records
89 Central Square, Seaside

30A Songwriters Festival Performances
Friday Jan 13th – Sunday Jan 15th
Schedule TBA or visit www.30Asongwritersfestival  for updates

See ya there, Florida!