I’m back! And what a fantastic weekend I had in Fredericton! The bus ride over was pretty good Thursday afternoon. The driver was a non-smoker, no-nonsense, all business type of dude so he drove a pretty good clip and didn’t prolong the few stops along the way. We ended up getting into Freddy about 10 minutes early, but of course traffic was a nightmare going over the bridge so we arrived a few minutes late.
I cabbed up the hill to the Amsterdam Inn where all the writers were supposed to be staying, checked in and raced up to my room to get ready for the opening ceremony. I didn’t have much time. I was excited to wear my new black strappy sandals that I’ve had since Spring but have never had the opportunity to wear. 3 1/2 inch heels! They’re nice shoes, the kind where the strap double wraps around your ankle. I put them on and wobbled around my room a little debating whether I should wear them or go with the more sensibly heeled silver grey sandals with the 3/4 inch heels. Thinking the event would be mostly a sit-down show I went tall. Oops! Oh well, I’ll know better for next year.
About 6:45 I called a taxi to take me to Old Government House. In the lobby I met up with Shirley Bear, a poet I was looking forward to hearing read later in the weekend, and her sister. Since we were all headed the same place we shared the cab. The building was beautiful of course! Ancient stone covered with Ivy and clinging vines, some stained glass windows, cathedral ceilings, antique furnishings, lavish rugs, lots of portraits, paintings, statues, big vases, huge chandeliers, real china and silverware, velvet cushions, framed photos of visiting dignitaries like Prince Charles — everything that one would expect to find in the home of the Lieutenant Governor and more. There was plenty of wine, red and white, fruit punch, vegetable trays with dips, fresh fruit, cheese, crackers, and cream cheese, smoked salmon, and other tiny sandwich rolls. It was not exactly the sort of feast a starving woman required, but it did in a pinch.
Joe Ward from Eel Ground got the ceremony underway with his drumming. I was feeling too faint to stand in the circle and hold hands so I went out into the hall and sat down while they did that part. A group called The Raging Grannies performed. They were wonderfully funny and entertaining, dressed up in flouncy hats and shawls, keeping time with a wooden spoon and kazoo. They are political activists and write what I can only think to call protest songs. I had never seen or heard tell of them before but apparently they’ve been making quite a name for themselves with appearances on shows like Breakfast Television. They were there to tribute M. Travis Lane. Every year the festival honours a poet and this year it was her turn. I think Travis is a Raging Grannie. They shared a story about visiting a dying friend in hospital and singing them off. I liked that. Travis was celebrating her 70th birthday and what a happy energectic woman she seemed. She obviously comes from good blood because her 90-year-old mother was quite happy to have the house to herself for evening while Travis attended. She and the Grannies believe life should be celebrated until the very end with singing and poetry. There will be time enough for grieving after the dead have departed. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t fascinated by this woman, who seemed to effortlessly bring every conversation round to her pets. Jeannette Lynes and Liliane Welch also gave lovely tribute speeches to Travis and shared some of her poetry.
A personal highlight of the evening for me was meeting up again with Ed and Elaine Lemond from the Attic Owl bookstore in Moncton. They are lovely people, so down to earth and friendly. Elaine kept getting me confused with Kelly Cooper who was going to read later in the weekend and wishing me luck — very supportive 🙂 Just running into them makes me excited to move to Sackville where I’ll be closer to these people and get to spend more time with them. Fredericton is a nice city . . . but I find it a little cold. Many Miramichiers live there but they seem to be the ones who think themselves a little bit too good to live on the river, not the proud Miramichiers. It’s like they haven’t grown past that stage so many of us go through right after high school where we want to be from anywhere but here. Funny, how most of those people go to Fredericton and never come back. But the people who go elsewhere come to realise what they’ve left behind and either move back or long to with every visit. Everyone in Fredericton seems a little too full of themselves. I don’t know, it’s kind of an odd thought I suppose and like anything else there are exceptions. I also know some very down to earth great former Miramichiers living in Fredericton. But Moncton does not have that feeling at all. People will talk to you in Moncton and not down their noses until they judge whether you’re worthy. There’s a different feeling about Moncton.
Anyway, after the tributes and more mingling, we headed back to the hotel and convened to have a glass of wine. Dorinda, Noeline, Elizabeth, Judy and I sat around talking for a little while. I learned that the Miramichi Writers’ Guild is thinking about publishing another little chapbook. While I’m sitting there thinking what I would want to contribute if anything, they sprung it upon me that they wanted me to do the editing, layout, design, etc. I was surprised but thought it would be cool. They would even pay me a little, even cooler! About midnight everyone went to their own rooms. I went to the lobby and grabbed snacks from the vending machine and a movie. It was the sequel to The Talented Mr. Ripley with John Malkovich as Tom Ripley. It might have been good, but I was too looped to stay awake.
And that was the first event. I’ll write more later and tell you the rest of the story. It gets better, I promise 😉
Mood: Pleasantly exhausted
Listening To: Keep the Faith, Bon Jovi (This Left Feels Right)
Hair: newly dyed!