2012 A-Z Blogging Challenge (Places I've Lived), Alison Boston, Home, Snap Shot Series

Beacon Hill Park, Heaven in the Springtime

I first visited Victoria in about 1974 – came here on a summer holiday with my parents.  I fell in love with Beacon Hill Park.  It was summer time and the rose bushes were in full bloom.

All these years later, it’s wonderful to return, most especially in the springtime when the cherry trees are blossoming, and shedding a blanket of pale pink petals on the ground beneath.

This is the park which is my new back garden – where I can run on cushioned chip trails through the park up to the cliffs which overlook the sea, then come home and relax in a sauna and hot tub in my new apartment building!  This is my new home.  I love it.

Everything is springing to life, and leafy trees have that special shade of green we see only in the spring time.

The forsythia is in full bloom – its bright yellow flowers bring sunlight even on a gray, overcast day.

Fir trees tower gracefully, they are so elegant. I love the trees on Vancouver Island.  It was here that I first understood that trees are very old souls.  Look at them!  They dance, though are rooted in the soil

Blue Camus and yellow buttercups paint the meadows behind Beacon Hill Park, along Dallas Road

It’s especially nice to return to Vancouver Island after visiting so many other beautiful places.  Everywhere I’ve lived has had its unique beauty, yet Vancouver Island always held a special charm for me.  My photographic skills with my old Nokia N73 don’t do it justice, but serve to give you a taste of the natural beauty.

There are parts of the world I’d love to see and have yet to visit – Central and South America for example – and I’m sure they all hold a  piece of the heaven we are blessed with on this planet.  As I revisit this little piece of Vancouver Island, I remember driving through eastern Hungary, after cycling solo along the Tisza River, and remarking to the gentlemen who had offered to drive me and my bicycle back to Budapest, how very beautiful Hungary is, and how – if they ever have the chance – they should visit Vancouver Island.

I had a job interview last week with a local language school and the man interviewing me told me Victoria is a hard sell to foreign students – they want the night life of a larger city, and yet I’ve only been back a week and have found many things listed in the local events calendar that answer my special interests, while at the same time I’m here on this beautiful, wild and natural island.  And – I think – we just have to sell it to special language students, the ones who want a deeper experience.  The ones who want to learn something they can’t learn anywhere else.  No matter where you go in the world, you can find a night club – and we have nightclubs here – and they all play the same music.  Here – in Victoria – you can cruise homogenized night clubs, and visit this beautiful park every day changing with every season.   You can also experience natural wilderness on a weekend trek in a temperate rain forest, go sailing, ocean kayaking, scuba diving, cycling…and breathe some of the best air you’ll find anywhere.

2012 A-Z Blogging Challenge (Places I've Lived), Alison Boston, Amazing, ART, Blogging, Blues, Experimental, Home, Improvisation, Installation, Mixing Audio, Music, Performance, Poetry, Singing, Spoken-Word Events, Theatre and Drama, Visual

Life in the (artistic) Zone

“Can I have your ticket please?”

I show the young woman with the stylish hair-cut my Royal B.C. Museum ticket, the one I paid $15.00 plus GST for.

“No,  your ticket with a word printed on it…look….”  She deftly produces  a small, brightly colored laminated card palmed in her hand.  Only thing is, she shows it so quickly, and the word’s printed so small, I can’t see it.

“Oh I don’t have a word ticket.”

“That’s all right, you don’t need one.  You can just shout out a word.”

Wanting to play – and having been brainstorming for the letter “Z” – I pull out a pen and write “Zanzibar” on the back of my Sight and Sound ticket and hand it to her improv partner.

“Zanzibar!?” he says, “Where’s Zanzibar? Does it even exist?”

“Off the coast of India, isn’t it?” she says.

And so it started, the improv session of Dave Morris and Missie Peters in the Majestic Theatre at the Royal B.C. Museum’s Sight and Sound Festival.  A one-night performance installation, bringing the permanent exhibitions to life with the use of sound.

Attracted by the laughter and applause of the preceding audience, I’d wandered into their act after being mesmerized by the U Vic Drummers in the First People’s Gallery, where local poet laureate and visual artist Janet Rodgers was drawing and coloring a plastic sheet overlaid on an archival photograph.

Janet Rodgers, Victoria's current poet-laureate, added her vision to archival photos at Royal B.C. Museum, Sight and Sound Festival, April 28th, 2012.

It had been an almost transcendental experience hearing the group’s rhythmic drumming of the single big drum, accompanied by traditional First Nations singing – for this evening, a call and response – while I gazed at a mural-size archival photograph of totem poles, and viewed a short historical film of war canoes, the rowers’ oars rhythmically entering the water, the leader – dressed in animal skins and mask, doing a war-dance at the head of canoe – all in perfect time with the live drumming.

I only stayed for one set of Dave and Missie’s evening-long  performance before being distracted by the sounds of The Victoria Phonographers Union coming from the adjacent Old Town: four digital composers seated behind laptops round a single table, periodically sending commands to play their creations through loudspeakers, bringing to life the installation with the sound of people milling through the streets of old town, while up on the next level, Buddha machine sound installation – also working with laptops – enlivened an otherwise static installation of The Mine, with sounds of miners working.

Next stop, the Tremblay Farm: a pioneer settlement.  Definitely one of the highlights of the evening with local blue-grass players Garret Thompson and Shanti Bremer.

On my way down to the second floor, I pass the Gum Sing Musical Society, representing Victoria’s Chinese community with their traditional instruments and music.

On the second floor, in the Natural History section, I get a personal favorite, and another excuse for the letter “Z” – Zoology: Paul Walde and Tina Pearson‘s installation of Music for Natural History in Four Parts, their 15-player ensemble filling the space with the environmental sounds of Prelude in Ice, Elk Concerto, Shoreline Operetta and Delta Sequence.  Each musician creating a unique bird, mammal, or natural sound with their instrument: drums, whistles, horns, strings, percussion, vocals.

So what about the letter “Z” and living in the (artistic) Zone? Well, as an artist and performer, there have been many Zones that have inspired and nurtured my creativity.  I’ve touched on some of those places in this A-Z Places I’ve Lived.  It’s great to finish the challenge with a post about other artists and their work.  Sight and Sound was terrific opportunity to be introduced to the work of so many gifted artists living and working here in the Artistic Zone on Vancouver Island.  And it was very special to meet them in the Royal B.C. Museum and witness how they draw inspiration from our shared heritage. I look forward to getting better acquainted with them all.  It’s good to be home!

What zone do you live in?