Freedom Is Measured Out In An Environment Of Obstacles

M and music

Luck Is A Product Of Judgment And Opportunity

Nova Scotia Bluegrass Festival

Aug. 1, ‘82

Bruce suggested I stay an extra day because of the rain, and I spent much of it (after the rain quit) at the Citadel, a large fortress built by the British to defend Halifax. I was still feeling the affect of last night’s hangover, so I spent part of the afternoon sleeping on the pristine greens that surrounded the Citadel. After that I went back to the Video Art Center where Bruce had his studio. He wasn’t there, but a lot of friendly people were, which made it easy for me to find a comfortable place to read my book. Bruce finally showed up and gave me the key to his apartment. With key in hand, I left with Major, his dog, leading the way.

As far as I knew, Bill was still with his girlfriend, but after I phoned him from the apartment, I found I was a bit misinformed. “I haven’t the faintest idea where Bill might be,” the girl on the other end of the phone said. Bill finally called me late in the evening. He didn’t stay with the girl he left the bar with. Instead, he met two other ladies and took them out for drinks and dinner. Eighty dollars latter, apparently, he was invited to spend the night with one of them. Budget wise, Bill and I were worlds apart, and that bothered me some. On the phone, we made arrangements to meet and leave town in the morning.

Over breakfast, Bill and I disagreed on routes. He wanted to bicycle the south shore, a continuation of the beautiful scenery we had been traveling through, while I wanted to take the valley route, which both Bruce and another person I met on PEI (who lived in the valley) said was a “must see.” The distance to Yarmouth was the same in either case, so we agreed to go our separate ways and meet in four days. We would meet on the Yarmouth docks, and together board the ferry bound for Maine. Our decision was a good one, but a couple of hours out of Halifax I met Michelle, a female bicyclist out of Winnipeg, Manitoba. She was also biking the Maritimes and was heading down the valley. There was a mutual attraction between us, so we agreed to travel together.

Bicycling was good, a little breezy, but not overly difficult. Last night, when it came time to camp, we agreed to share the price of a campground, but before we could find one, we came to a sign that read the 11th annual Nova Scotia Bluegrass Festival. Michelle was not too excited about it until I regaled her with stories about the Wheatland Traditional Music Festival that I attended almost annually. She still was a little hesitant, but she agreed to give it try. We spent the night listening to some excellent music, some fair music, and some not so good music, but Michelle didn’t care. As far as I could tell, she had an excellent time, and that was what I hoped would happen. There is still two more days of music and we are planning to catch most of it before we head out on Sunday.

Aug 2

According to my belief system, we are free to direct and determine many aspects of our lives. However, life being what it is—part of a much larger whole, that freedom is restricted. It is measured out in an environment of obstacles. Becoming familiar with the terrain makes it easier to make good decisions. In other words, as individuals, we either ignore or utilize the opportunities that are presented to us and, for me, spending time with Michelle was an opportunity of the most inviting sort. In fact, this entire trip has been an incredible opportunity that in almost every case has produced positive results. I can’t explain it, but I certainly do appreciate it. Things keep getting better and better and better. True, this luck, in many ways, is a product of both judgment and opportunity, but I find the way it continues to expand absolutely overwhelming. I sent a message to Bill wishing him well on his bicycle trip home.

Yesterday, Michelle and I spent the day in the hot sun listening to excellent music. Joy and happiness were infectious at this festival. After listening to the Jarvis Bennoit Quartet, which might be the best band I have heard, exception taken for the Paul Winter Consort, we met Earl. He and his friends were camping in the beautiful pine forest next to us. After introductions, he said, “If we like you, you’re family, and we like you.” Being family meant free access to all the alcohol we could drink (Michelle didn’t like to drink, so I practiced some abstinence—less than a six pack the entire time), and a dinner of the best chowder I’ve ever tasted—potatoes, onions, haddock and lobster. Donnie, the black fisherman out of Yarmouth, who everybody admired for his excellent guitar playing and cordial nature, cooked up the chowder. Dessert came when Donnie picked up his guitar and played the hell out of the Jamaican song Marianne. Billy, the banker, and Vern, the septuagenarian, accompanied him on the fiddle, while Elto kept the music together and flowing on percussion. We had just as much fun at our campsite as we did down at main stage.

As I write this, Donnie has already informed me that breakfast will be ready shortly. Last night, after the last set of music finished on the main stage, Micelle and I toured the campsites. We enjoyed the many different musicians we found jamming together. It was a great evening and, for us, it came to an end around 3 am. In fact, Michelle is still in her tent sleeping. It’s too bad that she has a boyfriend. I know we could have shared even more if she would have let her guard down even a little. I was okay with that, though. It’s just that there’s always a desire for more, especially when boy likes girl and vice versa. The romantic in me, however, still believes that Michelle, like this entire trip, is a gift, and perhaps, just perhaps, if Michelle is willing, our chance acquaintance might yet turn into something more meaningful and las
ting.

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