13 August, 2008

no. 19: recharge?

So... I went to the folk fest this past weekend. I love the folk fest. It may be a physically exhausting weekend (um, four days), but it is well worth it for the amount of sonic joy that I get out of the whole experience. And the joy comes in many forms, from seeing old favourites, to discovering something new, to being so surprised by someone you never thought you'd enjoy... All of that happened this past weekend.

efmf stage at dusk1
Main Stage Saturday night

For instance, at a FOLK music festival, I would a) never have invited Chris Isaak to play and b) never have expected to be so wowed by his performace. But there you have it. The man in a pink sequined suit has a knack for blowing expectations out of the water. He was fantastic, and his pink suit left me speechless... forget the human mirror-ball suit he changed into for the encore. I've never seen someone sparkle so much.

Chris Isaak
The Pink Suit!

efmf stage at dusk2
The whole Chris Isaak spectacle.

His voice, and stage presence, not to mention between-song banter and ability to relate to the crowd. I've never seen someone do so much crowd ego-stroking and sound so honest. Granted, I know a lot of musicians take one look at the hillside from their bottom-of-slope position and say that it looks like they're staring at the night sky (once it's dark, people light candles that twinkle like little stars). I love it too... but it's still great to hear out of such an iconic person as Chris Isaak, the man who once opened for Roy Orbison...

And then Saturday's closing performance was such a fantastic dance and joy event that I will be forever thankful that Michael Franti keeps returning to our humble fest. ... even if I couldn't help but feel empty when he sang "Is Love Enough?" ... because right now, I don't feel like I can "love some more" and that was a rather sad revelation to make amidst the joyous dancers. But I think, with a bit more recharge and renewal (which the folk fest definitely helped), and a lot more sleep and better medication, I might actually make it back up there to a place where my heart wells up and overflows again... Or at least I can so hope.

Aside from the musical joy and unexpected introspection, there was a lot going on at the folk fest this year that really made me take pause. It was... special. Not necessarily special-wonderful, though I'm sure I could argue that, but really, just special.

For instance, how many shooting stars have you seen fall to Earth? Friday (I think) night, we witnessed one as we sat on the hillside listening to the main stage. It came out of nowhere, streaked incredibly brightly through the sky, flashed a bit and then seemed to burn out. My friend and I looked at eachother in awe and confusion as someone near us exclaimed "a shooting star!" ... we rationalized that we should have heard it, and for it to be so bright and so close, it must have been a flare. ... but no, it was a chunk of a meteor, burning brightly as it hit the atmosphere, leaving the largest streak of white light behind it that I've ever seen. (A friend I ran into on Sunday who works for Environment Canada looked it up, just to be sure) And when it burned out, I swear you could see the last little piece of it turn from white hot light to blue to orange... how could you possibly see something like that in a falling meteor? Apparently it was a lot farther away than perceived, but, well, the eyes can't interpret things they don't often see. It was phenomenal.

So, Friday: shooting star. Saturday: lightning storm that I swear was going to remove me from this Earth once and for all.

Now, I don't know about the average person, because if life has taught me anything, it's that normal odds don't apply to me, I get strange occurrences, and rare events. And right now I'm operating on the "third time's a charm" mentality when it comes to lightning. That's right, I've had two close calls. One, when I was 5 or so, I was playing in the back yard with a friend when a bolt hit the ground right next to us. We jumped into eachother's arms we were so terrified. White light and a noise that rent the air... It looked like a solid white waterfall cascading straight into the ground... at unimaginable speed and force. The second occurrence happened when I was about 8 or 10, we were weathering out (ha, sorry for the pun) a tornado warning at my uncle and aunt's place in eastern Saskatchewan. I was bored of being indoors, but the rain had started, so I was watching it through the window, with my forehead up against the glass when a bolt again shot to the ground very close by outside, the force of which pushed my body away from the window and brought my forehead banging back onto the glass (which thankfully did not break!). Now I'm waiting for the third. Two close calls... what will number three be like?

The lightning storm that hit our city Saturday night built up fast. Sure, you could see the storm front in the distance and knew that something awful and nasty was headed your way, still there's not much you can do at the folk fest except ready the rain gear and tuck your belongings under a tarp. As my friend and I were huddled under another tarp, laughing at the pouring fat drops of water that kept running down our arms and legs, the lightning kept creeping closer. It wasn't just a few flashes of cloud-bound sheet lightning either. These were full-blown forks striking the ground, and they were getting closer every minute. ... and there's nothing quite like sitting on a treeless ski hill sheltered by a sheet of plastic to remind you of how vulnerable you are to the whims of Mother Nature. And then we suddenly went from *flash one-one-thousand-two-one-thousand ... seven-one-thousand eight-one-thousand boom* to *flash one two BOOM!* And I thought for sure someone had been hit on the hill, it was that close. I was checking phone messages after the evening had finished (I buried my cell phone in my back pack to make sure it didn't get wet), to find that my cousin had called during that crazy blast of electrical storm, and had actually recorded the strike during his message to me. Thankfully no one was hit, including me, and the storm blew over in another ten or so minutes, leaving us with nearly clear skies for the Michael Franti dance-fest that ensued.

But that lightning storm made me wary once again, and I wonder when/how that third strike will occur, and what will happen... if anything. I already watch clouds, and I'm already cautious, throwing metal rods out of my hands under the worst conditions (and believe me, I've been in bad situations with lighting before, including carrying a pack full of lightning-rod-like metal "pigtails" during field surveys), but you can't be constantly vigilant, and sometimes things just happen, despite any effort to the contrary. I just wonder if it ever will for me, or if my odds are too high for that, ha!

clouds and bird

It makes me watch the clouds a lot more than I used to, that's for sure. Particularly after a close call such as Saturday.

At any rate, I have come to count on Folk Fest as being my recharge, my source of renewal (in at least some small way). And it was this time too, but it also reminded me of all the things I need to do to make things work better for myself outside of taking time to sit and passively enjoy music (and perhaps fall asleep on grassy hills). Things I need to start doing, like thinking about what's right for me, regardless of everyone else, and how I need to reconnect with so many of my old friends - friends I invariably see at folk fest and then never again until the following year, if we're lucky enough to cross paths at the massive festival. Things I definitely need to work on if I really want to find lasting renwal.