On Music, Camping, and Divergence

First, happy birthday to Bob Dylan!

Second, I was very sad to hear today that Gord Downie, lead singer of the Tragically Hip, has announced his diagnosis of terminal brain cancer. I met him a few years ago when the non-profit I worked for had a booth at one of his performances. Later we had another at Deer Lake, when the Tragically Hip played there, but this particular one was Gord Downie on his own. I didn’t grow up listening to his music, and honestly didn’t really know much of them until I moved to Canada, whereupon I began to really get into them. A couple songs are on my running playlist: “Ahead by a Century” and “Bobcaygeon.” Gord’s voice stretches out like an endless sky, and is kind of rugged like the back country. I always associate him with the great outdoors.

In an interview with Bullfrog Power, Gord Downie stated:

Music is the ultimate medium for expressions of love, and those expressions find a beautiful backdrop in the environment. Music is also a popular rallying point – at its central core, it’s a way for people to get in touch with the best parts of themselves and to voice the love in their hearts. And the environment is one of the great loves of our lives – when we think of the best parts of ourselves, the environment is always there, informing us, as a backdrop.

Beautiful words, and I really got a lump in my throat when I heard the news this morning about his cancer. One good man down, I thought–but not forever, as people like him continue living for generations in our collective memory.

We returned from camping worn and happy. I hadn’t tent-camped since I was a teenager, and it was pretty much what I remembered, only this time in a rainforest, where there was a lot of rain. We set up on Friday night, watched a deer forage nearby, and when we began to go to sleep, the rain began in earnest, but it was a beautiful sound to fall asleep to. I went by myself on a run Saturday morning. The first part of any trail-going was up a steep hill. This was more of an exploring run. I ran up to another camp area, where I saw a place with some primitive hot showers–something to revisit later after running. I then ran all the way back to the main road and shimmied down a trail near another camp, trying to find beach access. The lake was big and beautiful. I ran down a few non-trail areas, just to get close, but finally found a small sign that said “beach trail,” and it led to the tiniest of beaches.

Our tent looks so tiny, but in actuality, the trees are just that tall.
Morgan roasting a marshmallow.
View from trailside running.
View from the tiny beach.
Edited by Gerry Canavan and Kim Stanley Robinson–great reading in the forest.
Final afternoon.

We came back a day earlier due to the noise at night there. Our goal was more to get “out into nature,” not into a place where we’d be listening to car alarms going off, people using battery powered blenders, and being loud late into the night. We joked that we’d get more nature and quiet by pitching a tent in our back yard! But overall, it was nice to get out and simplify our life even if just for a weekend.

We want to go again, this time with some friends, but want to find a place that won’t be so crowded–such as was the case with a provincial campground on a long holiday weekend. Even though our tent area space was really private, and our closest neighbors were kind and fairly quiet, there was another private campground nearby whose sound carried over to ours.

The sense of divergence–to get out to nature, but even more so, led me to the idea of investing in a cabin by a lake somewhere. We aren’t home-owners, and refuse to buy in the lower mainland, given that the housing market is completely overvalued and controlled by foreign corrupt speculators–enough so that new families wanting to build a life here are choosing other cities to live in, instead–but I haven’t particularly ever been keen to owning a house until this thought of a cabin by the lake came along.

I was reading the book Green Planets: Ecology in Science Fiction during the weekend, and based off Auden’s poem “Vespers,” there’s a couple of types of writings that fall into positive futures: Arcadian (back to nature) and another one that can be thought of as Solarpunk or Eco-futurism (cleaner energy). The other darker future is generally seen as “Brave New World”…these are just some categories of futuristic eco-fiction found primarily in science fiction. I posted a poll to see what our newsgroup’s writers felt more familiar with. (It’s not too late to participate in the poll.) I definitely am back-to-nature in my writing. Even my newest novel, though part horror/weird, is looking at a futuristic world that is quite dystopian, yet the main character struggles to find a place of his dreams, which are Arcadian.

My novel-in-progress is based on my thoughts of Yeats’ “Lake Isle of Innisfree,” which, coming full circle, is also where my dreams of having a cabin by a lake are. I feel we have a few more years to save up for this–though I think I need to persuade Morgan a bit more! Both of us work full-time, he in the tech industry and me in academia. I think we can probably save up sooner than later for such a dream as long as we have that as a goal rather than a house near a city. After this weekend’s camping trip, and though finding some sanctuary at times with nature, it is simply not exactly my dream to camp around so many others that cannot do without the electronics and noisemaking necessity found in the lives we want to escape from in going back to nature.

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