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On Tour

April 19, 2008

Four Strong Winds (the last night)
Posted by Theresa Kishkan

Driving back to Terrace from Smithers, on the final stretch of the river, nearly full moon at play in the clouds above the mountains, we listened to Johnnny Cash. This was that last recording (“A Hundred Miles”?), produced by Rick Rubin. John’s ravaged ethereal voice sang right into our ears (as Nan observed), an oratorio for this last night of ours on the Northern Tour. We were returning from readings in Vanderhoof and the Smithers Public Library. Mary and I really loved our time with the students of Nechako Secondary School. Again, a dedicated group of teachers and Richard the librarian; a fine gathering of young people asking intelligent questions about research and revision. And it was great to return to Smithers, a town with such appeal. We ate at Java’s again, lured back by the wild grain pies and fresh salads. The library was welcoming, the turn-out warm and friendly. (On a personal note, I should not be surprised that the librarian, Cathy, turns out to be Ian Mackay’s sister. Ian is the source for the black cod in my essay, “Autumn Coho at Haskins Creek”, as well as an old friend. His sister asked where I lived and when I said, “Pender Harbour”, she said, “That’s my home town!” This happens all the time but somehow I wasn’t expecting it tonight and was so pleased. “Say Hi to my family,” she said as we left.)

This tour has been an extraordinary experience. Nan, Kari and Mary are wonderful writers and beautiful strong women. I haven’t tired once of hearing their work. Nan brings drama and deep poignancy to her presentation of childhood’s disappointments and moments of clarity. Kari is a force of nature—ebullient and imaginative. Mary illuminates the 17th century with her own rich elegance. I’ve begun to see the ways our work intersects, too, which is of course a result of the human desire to find connection.

I have the Johnny Cash recording at home but I wonder if it will ever sound as beautiful as it did tonight as we drove that dark highway, one of the hundred he sang about, his guitar as intimate as anything I’ve ever heard, while Bryan guided us safely back to the Coast Hotel in Terrace. God speed us all.

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