Picture it…Ottawa…summmer 2006. I was but a young woman of 31. My newlywed husband and I went to his family’s cottage at a lake near Perth for a week of nature worship and family communion. When planning this visit, I recalled that my favourite author performs in a band with his wife and various others at a local pub in Ottawa on Thursdays. I’d been eager to do this pilgrimage for a couple of years and now the timing was just right. Auspicious even. Well, maybe not. Either way, off to Ottawa we went.
The day was lovely. We found a convenient hotel in Byward Market. We had a bite to eat at an Indian restaurant. Quite tasty. We walked to the National Gallery of Canada to view the Emily Carr exhibition. She just happens to be one of my favourite artists. We were disappointed to find that the painting “Decorative Landscape” by Lawren Harris was nowhere to be found. Loaned out to another gallery, perhaps? Oh oh, I feel a tangent coming on….and I’m off! In highschool we studied the Group of Seven. I hated them. The paintings were dull and cold and stark. I didn’t see what all of the fuss was with these foolish artists who didn’t know when to come out of the cold. Several years later (okay, maybe only five) I went to an exhibit at Kleinberg. Then I understood. Their art captures nature in a way that is almost otherworldly. It is mesmerizing. Then one day I was at the National Gallery of Canada and saw the aforementioned painting by Lawren Harris. Seeing that painting struck me in that way that only occasionally happens. My heart starts to ache and I want to cry because of the beauty or truth the moment (or in this case, art) possesses. I stared in awe. After pulling myself away from the painting, I went to visit the boutique. I had planned to buy a print of the painting but was disappointed to see the beauty could not be reproduced. That’s when I realized why I couldn’t appreciate the Group of Seven in school. Slides, prints, and posters, cannot capture the magic living in their work.
Okay, back on track. So, my husband and I left the gallery and wandered around a few shops. I was tired and thirsty. We returned to the hotel and decided to have a swim in the pool. I have quite a fancy for hotel swimming pools. Luckily it was dinner time so there were no other occupants. We sat in the jacuzzi and swam to cool off.
Then it was time to get ready for the big event.
Before we get to that (in the next post) here is a little background info. I first came across the writing of Charles de Lint in 1998. My sister had a copy of “Traders”. I’m guessing she thought it was business related as that is her type of thing. When I asked her about it, she said “it’s ok, a bit weird, but ok”. I was hooked with the first page. The second book I read was “Memory & Dream”. The story hit a little too close to home as I had studied art at college with a class of 18 students. The instructor who claimed to be a wiccan priest was quite eccentric and took to whispering in my ear while I sketched. He would say that I saw things differently and that I understood the magic in the world would soon be sniffed out. Many strange things happened that year. Including his boxing my ear one day and encouraging the students to take acid. But I digress… I had to rely on the library to read anything else by Charles. The bookstores weren’t selling his books. At least no where that I could find. Luckily, my library had quite the selection. Recently, I’ve found his books are showing up in abundance at Chapters (in Canada) and Borders (in the US). My favourite book is Onion Girl. Okay, that’s enough background info. Read on…