Cottage on the Bay: Postscript

So I’m home.  Been home a few hours, finished the laundry and chores and some of the work I didn’t get done before I left town.  The temperature has dropped, even here in the city, so I’m sitting, wrapped in a blanked, thinking about the weekend, and wishing I was still on the Bay.

It was COLD- as expected, yet you never REALLY expect just how cold cold can be when you have no windbreaks between you and that farfarfar shore of the Great Lake, and the temps fall rapidly as the sun disappears.  I swear I only survived Friday night without freezing because I lucked out and the dog decided to sleep with me rather than her lord and master (there was some bitterness about that, let me tell you).  Thank you Scout!

But it was beautiful.  Clear nights- star filled with a half moon and even sightings of Mars setting on the horizon (although it might have been Venus, or not a planet at all- even with all the astronomy apps at our collective command we couldn’t agree just what it was that shone so brightly before being extinguished in the lake as the earth turned to hide its flashy sparkle).

There was a UFO sighting Friday night.  No seriously.  It can’t have been a plane.  It zigzagged crazily across the sky and remained visible for quite some time before disappearing completely.  Was a little freaky, actually.

My cottage reading material, Jian Ghomeshi’s 1982, was thoroughly enjoyable and gave me more than a few laugh out loud moments as I related, or at least remembered friends who certainly could have related, with the slice-of-life stories he had to tell about growing up in a northern suburb of Toronto at the beginning of the New Wave era, with an abiding love and respect for Bowie- and music in general- and how the seeds were sown and began their development into the musical and cultural career path that he has earned and enjoyed in subsequent decades.

I especially loved his story about sitting outside of a suburban studio every day for weeks as Rush prepared for their tour of the then-newly released Signals album (practicing, among other songs, Subdivisions, their iconic tune about life in Canadian suburbs).  Young Jian and his friend listened to the rehearsals day after day, clutching valued albums to their hearts in the chance that the band members would appear and be gracious enough to sign them.

They did.  And, of course, they were.  They are Canadian after all.  And incredibly classy dudes by ALL accounts I have ever heard.  So Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson acknowledged their devotion in hanging out there every day and offered to sign the albums when the 15-year old fans were too overcome to make the request.

Great story.  Solid memoir/creative non-fiction and very evocative of that particular time period.  The backing music of the weekend frequently fit nicely with the words I was reading.  Nicely done, Jian.

The Bay Cup was played- we have a new Champion (congratulations Shawn!)- and there were no casualties over the course of the fairly decisive victory.

The temperature actually began to rise through the day Saturday- although the wind also picked up, adding the music of the winds and waves to the soundtrack of the weekend.  I was able to remove at least a couple of layers of clothing as the evening progressed, and didn’t need Scout to survive the night (although she again chose to hang with me.  Good judge of character, that dog).

There were some moments of disagreement the first night as we realized that our host (whose hospitality was most appreciated) was attempting to contravene the rules of song choice and repetition.  He had a new bluetooth gizmo that was hooked into his iPhone- and therefore only HIS music- and he wouldn’t give us the code.

Fortunately we had an IT guy along, so this was remedied relatively early on (thanks Shawn!).  But Will retained control of the music for much of the weekend regardless.  Since it didn’t become a Phish-fest (all Phish all the time!), the rest of us let him get away with it.  He was also playing good and/or highly amusing selections.

In addition to the great food, games, leisure time and liberal napping policy, we had lots of great conversation, including the requisite debates about politics and religion.  Some will say that these are topics best avoided in polite company, but despite all of us being Canadian- polite by definition- we don’t tend to shy away from expressing our opinions.  The conversation does grow heated at times, but we all truly do have the courtesy to respect each others’ views and hear each other out.

After we discussed atheism vs. theism and the comparably humanist ideology behind the specificity of our individual beliefs regardless of whether or not we added supernatural players into the equation, our host (a theist, for lack of better definition) had this song for us:

I had never heard it before, and boyohboy did it make me laugh.  I was previously completely unaware of the John Butler Trio, an Australian band that Will discovered on an extended trip Down Under years ago, but I WILL be looking further into their catalogue after this weekend.

Interestingly, John Butler started his career as a busker.  Jian Ghomeshi’s band Moxy Früvous similarly spent some time busking as they developed their repertoire of political- and locally-themed folk-rock satirical tunes.

Butler is an advocate and activist for causes that embrace environmentalism and global harmony, and his musical influences include bluegrass, celtic, roots, funk rock and alternative rock.  And that song is hilarious.  The part about ‘knowing the sheep biblically’ seriously had both me and Matthew (two of the atheists among us) in tears of laughter.  Awesome- and accurate- description of the vengeful deity of the OT tradition.

Another contribution to our ongoing musical education was this song by Bobby Darin.

A lovely, and simple, song written in reaction to the Vietnam war.  Given the recent events in the world- and the push of certain world leaders to get involved in international conflicts- the song had a pretty emphatic poignancy.

‘Now no doubt some folks enjoy doin’ battle
Like presidents, prime ministers and kings
So let’s build them shelves where they can fight among themselves
and leave the people be who like to sing’

There is always room for Jack White.  Always.  But one song in particular- Shawn’s choice- very much spoke to the atmosphere of the weekend, and the reasons why we were all there.

Another simple, lovely song about the innocence of childhood friendships- and their potential for longevity.  So in keeping with the decades-long relationships that continue to bring us together at that cottage on the Bay.

There was lots of music- old and new.  There was this surprise choice from Nick:

Surprising, not because it isn’t a great song, but because Bob Seger is somewhat outside of the norm of his usual choices and tastes in music, which tend toward the shoegaze-y.  As he explained, he wants to be remembered as ‘surprising’.  Wants it on his tombstone, actually: ‘Here lies Nick.  He will surprise you’- in the hopes that it will freak out unsuspecting visitors to his grave.

But, under Will’s insistent tutelage, the weekend really belonged to The Airborne Toxic Event.  He introduced me to this band years ago- right after the release of their first album in 2008, but they had fallen off the playlist somewhat of late.  They’re back up on top- especially since they have a relatively new album that most certainly needs a thorough listen.

There were a number of ATE selections played (repeatedly, I might add.  Nick frequently asked- ‘Why do I know this song’- with the response being ‘Because you’ve heard it 7 times in the last 24 hours.’  But, by consensus, we let this go since we were all jamming to the selections.  And since it wasn’t Phish).  These two got the most airplay:

Between the incredible prowess behind both the lyrics and the music and the sentimental yet borerline bitter edgy subject matter, this is a band that deserves more exposure than they have received (here at least.  Conan O’Brien, for one, appreciates them greatly).

As we sat and watched ‘Grandma’s Sitting Log’ (a HUGE chunk of wood that our host, somewhat ill-advisedly- due to its size- added to the fire at around 2 am) struggle to burn, we all appreciated the songs- likely for different reasons- but as a group, joined in sharing- our stories, our songs, out experiences and our enduring love, respect and friendship.

(All while Matthew complained about the ‘ironic potato chips’ we were also sharing- ‘Grilled Cheese and Ketchup’ one of Lay’s ‘Canadian selections’- limited time flavours.  We have yet to really figure out exactly where the irony lay, but the chips honestly weren’t that good- despite the fact that Marty Short is acting as the advertising spokesperson for the chips- and Marty can usually do no wrong at ALL.  We were all too afraid to even OPEN the ‘Maple Moose’ flavoured ones).

That’s a pretty good synopsis of a fantastic weekend.  My reserves have been restored and I feel better able to face the week ahead than I have in quite some time.

Big thank yous to all those who made it possible.

Same time next year.