Road trip diary (# 6)

Today we continued west along some of the very narrow red lines on our paper map, meaning the road was paved but minor and narrow. At least at the beginning. We wanted the straightest route west from Saskatoon to Red Deer, where we’re staying this night with my brother Victor and wife Doris. It took us through farm country, the landscape slightly rolling. The sky was cloud filled and it was the clouds that seemed to draw us forward. I wish I had words for clouds. There’s so much variety in them, so many different shades of white and grey, so many effects

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(l-r) Katherine, Dora, Sarah (photo courtesy Turnstone at Facebook)

Last evening in Saskatoon, I read with Sarah Ens and Katherine Lawrence in an event Turnstone Press billed “an evening with memory seekers.” We’re all Turnstone authors, Sarah with a book of poetry (The World is Mostly Sky) to be released next spring, and Katherine with a book of poetry (Never Mind) a couple of years back. We read from our work, they graciously giving me the longest time because my book is the newest, and then, with Sarah moderating, we discussed a series of questions about memory. It was a good discussion, in my opinion, and the preparation for it was interesting to me too. I haven’t thought about memory as idea in relation to All That Belongs, though it’s a big piece of it. I suppose I thought more to remembrance as activity and to the content of what Catherine remembers, which came to me as the “story” being told.

Memory is fraught with partiality and unreliability. And yet within it, we three agreed, lies potential for authenticity and even transformation. We also talked about the value of documents and objects, as well as the impact of technology upon memory seeking/keeping.

Leaving Saskatoon I couldn’t help thinking of memory fragments of the short period we lived in that beautiful city of bridges back in the early 1980s. We moved there on account of work and planned to stay, but work took us away again. We had two young sons at the time. In the busyness of life with preschoolers, I signed up for an evening course in Canadian literature at the University of Saskatoon. I remember driving down 22nd Street in our leased Grand Marquis (actually the nicest car we’ve ever had) on my way to the university, the boys safely in the care of their father and me free of them for the evening, listening to CBC-FM which at that time played mostly classical music, a memory which remains with me as a sensation of luxurious happiness.

Driving into Red Deer late afternoon we managed to get rather hilariously lost, but eventually we got to my brother Victor and Doris’s place, where we enjoyed a delicious supper and visit with them and some of their grown children.