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chewonki-inlet

I am still in Freeport Maine.  The weather has turned to spring bit by bit, but the clouds are moving in again and it would appear that we are going to be cold this weekend.  Oh well, if one dances harder, you warm up just fine.

 

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Did a talk at the Maine Audubon Society’s Gilsland Farm in Falmouth the other night.  A nice crowd – half were Audubon folks, the other half friends from this area.  Was great to see everyone and they all seemed to enjoy the presentation. Only sold a couple of books but as long as I keep my expectation low (selling one makes me happy) then I’m not disappointed. 

I’ve stayed on here at Mast Landing Sanctuary with Peter and Cocky, who, as always, feed me healthy food, share whatever dancefloor we can find and keep the conversation stimulating.  We have decades of history together, much of it while being social activists in the Temagami area of northeastern Ontario, and never fault for political talk. They went to Cuba this year (I was there maybe five years ago) and what with the American government’s change in policy towards Cuba happening quickly at Obama’s hand, we are all wondering how Cuba will fare as the wealthy Cuban-Americans return to their homeland and the American tourists follow.  I sure hope that the Cuban government has some sort of transition plan ready.  Cuba will never be the same – and some think that is good, but “progress” could just as easily turn against the people of Cuba as work for alleviating poverty or hardship. 

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Best of…with Jacob Augustine on right

Cocky and I went to an event in Portland the other night – the Best of Portland – with free food and music, it was a celebration of the best of everything in the city.  It was quite the crowd – we met music promoters, the guy who did the interior design of the building we were in, musicians, insurance men…well, a wide swath of Portland’s finest.  The food was phenomenal – a bistro version of tamales, divine – and the music – well, we really only caught one act, Jacob Augustine, a great big bear of a man with a small horn and string section behind him – an act we’d both go and and see again.  Great political, social commentary with a rocking backbeat.

dancing

I am now preparing to talk to a class at Bowdoin College in nearby Brunswick on Monday.  I’m also staying on top of all the details of Philadelphia (which has grown to 4 presentations in 3 days) and the Sunday afternoon at Marian Howard’s home in the  Bronx in NYC. So each day I’m doing a little work, trying to keep the focus, but mostly enjoying being here with my friends, getting out for walks in the sunshine and dancing  most nights.  Our pal Dennis came over last night and you couldn’t stop us – put four dancers in a room with a huge selection of music and you almost have to shoot us to get us to stop (or remind half of the folks that they have work early the next day – that’ll get them home.)

And I made an executive decision to not go to the west coast this summer.  I haven’t got enough lead time to plan it properly and get booked in places I’d like to be (and my sister is starting a new job this year and therefore may not have the flexibility to spend time with me.) It felt like a huge relief when I finally decided that I can’t do it all.  I can now stay longer in Costa Rica when I return there in May and that sounds just fine to me.

chewonki

I was invited up to the Chewonki Foundation, an environmental education center near Wiscasset Maine, just a half an hour north of here.  As serendipity would have it, Katy Van Dusen, a friend and great supporter of the book in Monteverde – along with her two sons, Richard and Francis – were visiting the area, checking out the colleges that the boys have been accepted to as they continue their education here in the States in September.  The director of Chewonki, Willard, along with his wife Jenn and their young daughter Sirena invited us all for dinner and I had the joy and privilege of seeing this world class outdoor classroom and dining with a table full of interesting people.  It was also wonderful to be with Monteverde people in Maine, to talk about Wolf,  get an update on Benito’s sloth, and tell stories from the Tapir Trail (Wolf has just sent me an email proclaiming this week Tapir Trail week – you had to have walked this difficult path over the ridges between Monteverde and Arenal, or minimally have read the last chapter of Walking with Wolf, to appreciate the significance.) I felt like a breath of home had whispered in my ear.

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Since then I’ve danced away the kabanga blues with the Blues Dogs at the Freeport Cabaret (believing this sardine-packed house was a normal night out in the little LL Bean town), and swirled and swished and sipped a variety of great wines at the Freeport Cheese and Wine’s little wine tasting event.

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I also visited with Cocky’s brother Henry and his wife Christine – even more stimulating talk aided by the addition of her mom Pat who is supposed to be suffering from alzheimer but seemed awfully witty to me – and today did the ten minute talk at Nat’s class at Bowdoin. 

A very interesting class for me, listening to Nat’s stories from Monteverde and about Dan Janzen, the well-known biologist and conservationist now at the University of Pennsylvania, who wrote the naturalist’s bible on Costa Rica – The Natural History of Costa Rica – and is also going to provide an endorsement blurb for the back of Caminando con Wolf, the Spanish version of our book. I’m going to be taking a copy of the English version to him in Philly this week, so hearing of his powerful work, his irreverent  personality and his intriguing style as a speaker which has all contributed to a new kind of conservation in Costa Rica has really got me excited about possibly meeting the man.

peter-cocky

No two characters on earth could be more fun or better friends than Cocky and Peter -they’ve been so generous and supportive all week, giving me love and soul nourishment constantly along with their wisdom and advice. They know I love them – but here and now I declare it publicly!

gang

With my gang of Mainiac friends at the Audubon talk

 

I’m going to get in that car tomorrow and start driving right straight on through New York City to Philadelphia – they tell me that’s the only way to go, I95 all the way. Last night, I spoke with Roberto, holding down la finca in Cahuita – giving me an update of the plants we had planted, the monkeys who were stealing his ripe bananas and the death of a character in the area who has haunted me for years – with all due respect, I can’t say I’m sad to see him go. Roberto told me that he prays for me every night, that I’ll be okay out on the highways.  I thank him for that, and promise to be very careful – and with that said, Noo Yawk & Philly here I come, highways and bi-ways make room!

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

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.

stephen

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.

manuel

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.

eva

 

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. 

 

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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!

and-juliana

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.

Perhaps the title is a little melodramatic, yes, but life is truly a whirlwind for me right now and I feel like I need to come up for breath every once in awhile. I’m back home here in Hamilton Ontario.  Thankfully the snow is long gone, the tulips and other spring bulbs are out of the ground, the weather is bouncing around between sunny, cloudy, windy, cool, and springtime warm, sort of like Monteverde was much of these last few months.

flowers

I have exactly two weeks today before I get in a car and travel to Maine – to speak to the Maine Audubon Society and to a class at Bowdoin College; to Philadelphia – to speak at Swarthmore College and Pendle Hill and maybe a public school or two; and to New York City! Me – Noo Yawk Noo Yawk ! On Sunday, April 26 I’ll be doing my book presentation at Marian Howard’s home in the Bronx. Marian is a long standing member of the Monteverde community and has been kind enough to offer me her home. We hope to see lots of faces that we recognize from over the years in Monteverde.

So I’m very excited about all that.  I’ll also see my friend Manuel Monestel, a Costa Rican musician and very smart man, who is teaching at Cornell in Ithaca New York.  I’ll spend time with my friends Cocky and Peter in Freeport Maine and my other friends in that area.  I’ll have a visit with Carlos Guindon who is working on the Spanish translation of Walking with Wolf.  It will be an action-packed two weeks on the road, I’ll hopefully sell lotsa books and spread Wolf’s and Monteverde’s positive stories even further.

us

And it is a good thing that this is going on, as I return to Canada body and mind, but my heart remains on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica with Roberto. This long-distance stuff is both poignant and frustrating. Fortunately I have reason to return to Costa Rica in May and so it won’t be such a very long separation.  In the meantime, I just have to keep my nose to the front and head that way. 

I am preparing here for a presentation to the McMaster University Biodiversity Guild, a radio spot with my friend Gord Pullar on CFMU, the university radio station, and to correct the few errors found in the first edition of Walking with Wolf. We will be going to print again here real soon. I’ll be back in Monteverde to help receive those books when they come in. I learned last time that the printer can ship at half the cost I can, so will be sending as many as we can store down to Costa Rica directly from the printer this time.

I am so low in books that I have to get my sister in Washington State, where a friend had dropped off some boxes of books for a western coast tour in July, to ship some boxes back to Maine so I have enough for this coming up tour. Less than one year later, we have almost sold out 2000 copies of Walking with Wolf.

turidmarg

Turid and Margaret

 

Last Sunday afternoon, before leaving Monteverde, a wonderful afternoon was spent in Margaret Adelman’s house. This is the kind of thing that Monteverde excels at – homemade quality music played in a beautiful setting to a friendly group of people.

heatheralan

jonathan1

As the sun shone in on us through the open doors (thank goodness the summer weather has finally come to Monteverde), the string quartet of Jonathan Ogle, Heather Gosse, Alan Masters, and Paul Smith, along with piano accompaniment by Turid Forsyth, soothed our souls.

paul

Except for Paul, they have been playing together over the last year and had a very nice musical program (I particularly liked the English Bach’s Quartette).  Paul is known for his many talents as a painter and musician but widely for the string instruments he makes. So the cello, and violins and viola were all made by him (well, Alan apparently worked on his with Paul). 

wolfluckyrob

That evening Roberto and I went up to spend Sunday dinner with the Guindon family – which now includes Alberto’s step-daughter Melody and her son Jayden who recently arrived from California, Annika and Heather and their sons and a friend – who will be leaving Monteverde soon when Annika’s two-year position as director of the Friends School is up in June, and a baby sloth. 

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Benito, baby & Melody, Wolf’s son and daughter

 

I really have seen more sloths this year (see recent posts about the Sloth Center in Cahuita) – and this particular one, maybe six months old, that Benito is caring for after a tyra killed the mother, was as soft and furry and slow-moving and gentle as the others.  Watching it wrapped around Benito, taking feed from a baby’s bottle in Lucky’s lap, and stretching slowly to meet the hand of any inquisitive child, once again brought me a great sense of peace. I don’t know how long Benito will keep it and what it’s future will hold, but I know it was lucky to end up with the kind Guindon family.  As was I.

I managed to get the contract with the Canadian Embassy signed along with Pax Ameghetti, a highly recommended computer artist in Monteverde who will use the money from the Embassy to do all the changes to the computer files, maps, cover and index, into Spanish. I am very appreciative to the Embassy, particularly Jose Luis Rodriguez and Stuart Hughes who helped me so much. I’m only sorry I’m not in Monteverde for when Pax gets the check and the fiesta is held.

chair

I’m also in talks with an organization in Monteverde for a part time job as an information director. Between the translation, this position, receiving the books being shipped down, and Roberto, there is alot of reason to return to Costa Rica in May.  I hope to find Mr. Guindon, sitting in his new rocking chair given to him by the Tropical Science Center, telling stories, drinking coffee, and happy to see me back in town.

July 2020
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