Maine in the springtime – what a lovely thing. It’s still cold, but the sky is blue and the sun is shining as bright as a lighthouse beacon warning us of summer approaching.
Peter and Alpha the wonder dog
Have some time here to write something so thought I better do it. I’m reworking my powerpoint for tomorrow night’s talk to the Maine Audubon Society in Falsmouth. My lovin’ family here, Cocky and Peter, have put a lot of time into make this work and inviting people and trying to get local media attention…we will see how it goes. As usual, I approach it all the same – think of who I’m talking to and do the best I can to entertain them, hopefully sell at least one book (that makes it worth it and keeps my expectations real low) and enjoy the experience. You never know what might happen or who you might meet. Each presentation gives me the chance of having something wonderful happen…and minimally enjoying myself. And gives me the opportunity to spread the story of Wolf and Monteverde a little further.
Before I left home, I went to Toronto to slurp oysters with my book boys, Ken and Bruce, and was getting interesting cellphone information from my pal Sol, when I ran into my cousin on the street. I guess that often happens to people, meeting up with relatives you rarely see on the busiest street (Queen West) of one of the busiest Canadian cities, but when they are on a gigantic horse and dressed out in full winter police wear, it adds a new twist. What an imposing sight they were. Stephen has been a policeman in Toronto for years and a cop-on-horseback for maybe eight years or so (probably many more and I just don’t remember.) It was great to see him, chit chat while standing in the heat of the horse’s breath, realizing how little I see these relatives of mine from nearby Mississauga and Fergus – that it is more likely I will run into Stephen riding a horse through downtown Toronto than in one of our houses is crazy.
On Saturday I got my rental car and drove to the border listening to JP Reimen’s new CD, Love is a Dog – the first song, the first of this roadtrip, is Troubadour and its lines about spilling wine and leaving my troubles behind was an appropriate send off. Nice songs again from the boy from tobacco country.
I got through the border but did get processed and so I guess I will have to talk to a customs broker before I cross with books again. The border guy – I have to be glad he was a nice one – let me through but warned me that since 911, boxes don’t just travel around the country, big brother needs to know what they are and who they’re with. Yeah, well, books. With me. Whatever.
I got to Ithaca, New York, near the Finger Lakes, where my friend Manuel Monestel is teaching a course in Music Industry and Society – the state of contemporary music in society and its relationship with the music industry and market. I’m betting it’s a fascinating course. I stopped for the night at his nice rented home in the pretty town that sits in a valley below Cornell University (a small city in its own right). I had come to not only see my friend (a Tico being only four hours from my Canadian home is well worth the trip) but it was also a good stop on my way to Maine and I had a favour to ask of him. Manuel has agreed to write a new endorsement blurb for the back of the Spanish translation of Walking with Wolf – Caminando con Wolf. I’m honored that this well-known musician, author, professor and all-round wise and talented man is going to put his name to the book. So I dropped one off for him to read and managed to get a full night of music in the process.
I did find out from Manuel, who has written a book on the history of calypso music on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica and is very knowledgeable about not only the history and culture and music but the dialect there, that the term I’ve been using – cabanga (read former posts) – which Roberto taught me, does indeed, as he insisted, have Afro-Caribbean roots. It is in the Spanish dictionary and the Ticos know it but it comes from the southern Caribbean. It meant that you should be sharing something – and that kind of worked its way around to feeling that you lost something – and that further got fused with the idea that you are feeling a loss, melancholy, the lovesick blues. That’s what I’ve been feeling – and with a capital K – Kabanga – all the more apropos. Roberto will be happy to know he was right, the proof in a book on Afro-ethnicity.
There was a Peruvian celebration going on at the university, and the great Eva Ayllon, the beautiful star of Afro-Peruvian lando and festejo music, performed in the nice small room with her hot jazz band. That was a very sweet treat to arrive to a show like that – she took the chill off the wintery night.
A dance and cajon band from New York City, Carabumbe, also performed, including an Afro-Peruvian dance workshop (that I of course joined in to sweat a little). It was powerful to hear six of those wooden boxes being beaten together. There was also a typical dinner served. Viva Peru!
Afterward we went over to the house of some grad student friends of Manuel’s – Marcela, a Costa Rican and Juliana, a Columbiana, both who know Monteverde well and bought a couple books (always working I tell ya.) Manuel and Juliana, along with friends from Chili, Mexico, Uruguay, Tennessee (and of course Canada), played guitar and sang till the madrugada, a variety of political, social and romantic latin songs (stirring my poor little tender soul again). Juliana had a powerful expressive voice and Manuel is always butter in your ears (or that would be buttered rum in this case.)
By the time we got back to the house, I was lucky to get a few hours of sleep before getting back in my car and driving seven hours east to Freeport. I was flying on the highway but without any sense of incident – it was Easter Sunday after all and the roads were relatively quiet as everyone was home eating turkeys and rabbits and pigs and things. So here I be in Maine, preparing, relaxing, visiting, happy to be on the road again.