those who loved her best and were with her till the end
9:45 AST, Tenty
I want a shower, but the towels are in the car and the keys are with the boys, who went on a ramble a couple of hours ago.
11:45 AST. Blues, Fox Island Stage.
I gave up the shower. My hair has assumed nightmarish and decadent shapes of ultimate horror (oohh, too much Lovecraft!) but so has the line to the showers. I brushed my teeth in the arena, where I discovered that I had sunburnt all around my glasses. Fetching. Blake and the Boy are also red, despite the continuous wearing of hats. I guess I’m just too stupid to live – I thought the Tilley would protect me from the medium-warm sun. How many times do I have to be Sunburnt in Canso before I put on some bloody sunblock?! Two, it seems. I used to think that the sun wasn’t strong at this end of the earth, but I now think that the reason I wasn’t burnt the first two years had more to do with staying in out of the rain than percentage of unclouded sunlight on my too-fair skin.
We missed Guy Davis’ set on Friday night, so I wanted to catch this. This is awesome - he’s already done Muddy Waters on the banjo and killed the crowd. Blake is napping, as usual. It’s nice to see Charlie A’Court again, now that he’s not doing the electric blues anymore. He’s still Mr. StanFest Congeniality.
We saw Stan, finally. I ate my arena bacon n’ eggs standing up, feeding the suddenly-ravenous Blake as well, while the four of us caught up. Good times. Last time I talked to him, he couldn’t get a job anywhere. This year buddy’s the VP of his school and four courses away from his Master’s degree. In comparison, I feel like I’ve been standing still for four years. Still, I’d forgotten how much I liked Stan. He’s got an excellent character so often lacking in a VP and I’m sure he’s fantastic at his job.
2:15 AST Rylee Madson
I finally saw “Singing Stan,” the mid-day communion of sing-alongs and celebrations of the festival’s namesake. In previous years I always found it necessary to take a nap, but then again, in previous years I was able to stay up for late shows both nights in a row. Arriving too late for the stage on Friday and turning in early on Saturday has given me the juice to finally stick it out.
Most of it was pretty good. The women were kind of boring, and Chuck Brodsky stunk up the joint with a long, boring song that was more interesting when he used the same material to introduce the piece, but Poor Angus and Nathan were in exactly the right place. (It reminds me of my second year, when I saw Angus Finnan singing his heart out during the festival finale to “The Mary Ellen Carter,” even though he was nowhere near a microphone.) When we got to the finale (“Northwest Passage”), the moment couldn’t have been built out of better materials: Blake in my arms, snug in a sweater I knit for him; the Boy holding my hand; and all of us standing with an equally moved crowd. The magical beauty of the song soaring out over the muddy fields was a moment 6 years in the making, and my only pang was that St. Stephen and Dirk (our previous StanFest sidekicks) weren’t there to share it with me. And Theresa, who’s never been to the festival, but always wanted to come. Unusually for him, Blake didn’t sleep through any part of the set, and yet he behaved pretty well all things considered. The guy next to me thought he was as cute as a cut button, and despite the struggle to keep him from my used tea bag and the time when he made a serious bid for freedom, I have to agree with this stranger.
Blake’s having a pretty good day, considering that when he woke up this morning he immediately began sobbing wildly, completely unable to name his malaise. His usual morning mood is insanely perky; this wailing, unexplained sorrow was upsetting just in its rarity. His cold has been worsening, and I think he was just miserable from a hundred little things that us older folk have the language to contextualize. When he found his voice, he insisted on going home. Poor dude. We just couldn’t adequately explain how much more he would suffer if we took him at his word and packed up the car for another 2 days of continuous driving. Best to space it out. Anyway, he’s feeling better now.
Rylee Madson: a solid set, but I mostly spent the time writing and waiting for Sean Rooney, the balloon artist. He arrived toting a huge balloon frigate, complete with a balloon mermaid, and then didn’t refer to this sculpture for the entirety of his set. Weird. Tho’ the weirdest was the whole rant he did about not being the kind of clown who did balloon poodles or giraffes (as he made and destroyed each in turn). Made me wonder about the poodle we were given last night.
It’s been a great StanFest in terms of weather. I had grown used to howling storms that would rip up professionally-installed stage tents and driving rains that could and would give you trench foot over the weekend if you were too stupid to keep your socks dry. What we’ve had this weekend is somewhere between the blazing sun of our third StanFest and the steady storms of the first two: mostly dry weather with a bit of rain on Saturday to keep us all on our toes. The nights weren’t even as cold as they usually are; I could sleep without a toque. Today we started seeing claws, however. The wind started going in the morning, and by the time we came back to Tenty in the afternoon, she had collapsed. (And, according to our site neighbours, she had completely flipped over.) The people tenting around us lent us strong pegs to reinforce our crappy plastic specials, and rope to tie Tenty to the fence. It was a really neat barn-raising experience to have all of these people lend a hand, considering all of these folks were utter strangers to whom we had yet to speak even in passing. Blake got to play with someone’s mallet, and if I had had a second to spare in re-establishing our site, I would have taken several pictures of him rushing around self-importantly, “helping” us with “his hammer.”
(The funny thing was that shortly before this discovery, the Boy had started to agitate for an early return to the Valley. I argued against it, feeling that to miss the Sunday night show after missing the Friday night show would make our tickets a joke. I have a lot of unhappy memories of leaving Blue Jays games in the 8th inning so that we didn’t have to sit in traffic; one of my favourite things about the Boy is that he taught me to ride out jams and line-ups by ignoring them and focussing on the present moment. Leaving early would have been giving in to the same ugly, proud impulse, in my opinion. I should mention that his motivation was not to avoid the rush; he wanted more time with Sister Silver before she left for PEI on Tuesday. Still, I think we both had other issues on the table. Anyway, we stayed, he had a blast at the final show, and we’ve never regretted the decision to re-establish Tenty and Stan On.)
We had dinner before the main stage show started. I thought that Blake would dig a nice piece of grilled fish, but he decided that he wanted my Lion’s Club Fish n’ Chips instead. Clever, clever boy. This is the first year that I’ve had enough self-control to wait until the last night before buying this Canso delicacy, as once I buy it I can’t stop. Serves my piety right to have half of it stolen by a mischievous toddler. The Lion’s Club also gave us a free order of onion rings, which made us very popular at our shared picnic table.
Halfway through dinner, Blake decided that he was ready to go have a good time on the playground equipment. As he made a dash through the food court, the high winds took this opportunity to knock my tilley off my head and send it scudding across the ground. Given a choice between the toddler and the tilley, I of course chose the toddler, and once I scooped him up I turned back to see two men running after my hat in exaggerated slow motion, yelling “free hat!” Once we established that I wasn’t giving up my hemp tilley without a lot of kicking, they started admiring Blake's sweater. I preened. Not a lot of people think much of a handmade sweater besides other knitters, and I’m very proud that I can keep my child warm with two sticks and my wits.
Blake’s worsening cold made it impossible to stay up for the main stage show, so I stayed in Tenty while he slept and the Boy caught the show. I was getting pretty tired at this point anyway, so it wasn’t much of a sacrifice. The only thing worth reporting second hand is that for the festival finale, Sean Rooney wore his boat balloon sculpture and “rose again” during the choruses. Unreal.
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Don't make me send out the Blake. He doesn't listen to *anyone.*