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protest song

When was the last time I heard a crowd of people singing? The Giant’s game. Doris’ funeral. Christmas eve…

Gentle voices lift into the air, whimsical, breathy, songs of liberation. Pete Seeger tribute. He wrote these words originally in a thunder of protest against the Vietnam war and now we’re singing them under dappled leaves waving in flowy summer linen like one of Martha Stewart’s gentle reminders.

VanFolkFest

“there’s one thing I must confess, bring them home, bring them home. I’m not really a pacifist. Bring them home, bring them home…”

Sometimes the cry for love is a shout. Sometimes it is a whisper.

A mother has her blanket spread in front of us, with a splay of children’s books and a bag of nuts and raisins. Her little girl twirls her sun dress round and round and round. A tiny little lady shuffles along past them with her cane, wearing a hippy skirt and a toque. She knows all the words. So does the suburbanite man, uncharacteristically dancing around rapturously with his eyes closed, under a sturdy tree. I think to myself, “he’s old enough to have dodged the draft.”

I am moved by the variety of ages around me. By the gentle humility that comes when one is asked to join in song with strangers close enough they can hear you and far enough away from the band they might be in a different key. But we do it. We sing along. Because the words are full of truth and beauty.

“Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time passing.
Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time ago.
Where have all the flowers gone?
The girls have picked them every one.
Oh, When will you ever learn?
Oh, When will you ever learn?”

I think of Rosebud. A tiny hamlet I still call home. A hill I want to be buried on. A stage that is currently playing my imagination. An old Toyota corolla on a dirt road where I kissed my first banjo player and was introduced to folk. Where God rolled over with the clouds in the big Alberta sky and stopped in to say hi.

I see the end if we don’t protect it…environmentally, artistically, spiritually…they’re all being threatened right now in ways I am at liberty and not at liberty to explain. The empty streets. The weeds in the window boxes. The “for sale” signs blown over by the wind. The prowling abandoned cats. The theatre being converted into a race car repair shop. I see a friend who can sing, dance, teach, act, write, compose, and play several instruments, stocking soft porn mags at the 7-11 in Drumheller.

“Maybe you’ve been working as hard as you’re able,
But you’ve just got crumbs from the rich man’s table,
And maybe you’re thinking, was it truth or fable,
That this land was made for you and me.”

 

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photo by film maker Matt Palmer

Addendum: some have taken this post to specifically mean Rosebud will die if changes to management happen. This is incorrect. If you wish to know my particular viewpoint about recent changes, I have widely circulated a letter I have written to the board about my specific concerns and suggestions. It is separate from this post for a reason. This post is about many things. It is about the racetrack debate and other environmental changes/threats Rosebud has had over the years. It is about the Budding Playwrights festival and the question of censorship and honouring a wholesome mandate. What is the balance? It is about hate mail cowardly being given to management anonymously. It is about the usual politics and romantic intrigue that can make living in a small town a small hell. It is about not embracing change. It is about businesses, individuals and government bodies making changes without consulting the community thoroughly. Like all of us who love Rosebud but are far away, it’s important to stay active and informed and not take things for granted. What I am protesting here is apathy.

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3 comments

  1. James Westgate Snell

    Thanks

  2. Joanne Linsey

    Brilliantly written. Thank you for your inspiration.

  3. Leah

    thank you for your heart. i am grateful for the knowledge that you are with us, Lucia.

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