Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Post-Tour (A Cynthia Flood Post)

When east-bound planes take off from Vancouver they fly west first, past the delta and towards the Gulf Islands. Far below, the great plume of the Fraser River, cloudy dark brown, meets the green of Georgia Strait. Then the jet turns. The mountains are pale blue in the early morning.
After that, days and days of Book Tour zipped by before I really looked at any landscape again.

Toronto -- Ben McNally's beautiful store, with family and friends gathered for my reading. Thanks Rebecca for the fine intro! Afterwards, dinner at Torrino's, and then an unexpected ride home in a convertible Volvo with the top down and Ferron singing at high volume as we five roared along Richmond Street in the rainy dark, waving to the multitudes.

Ottawa -- People from The Nation's Capital smile fondly when I say, "My reading was at the Manx Bar." Such a great place that is, and a fine reading series led by David O'Meara. Pals from college days appeared (we are all even more beautiful than we were then), and also friends from other rooms in the house of my life. That's a fine thing about Book Tour: remaking connections.

Waterloo -- Another terrific bookstore and manager, Words Worth and David Worsley, and a meeting at last with Terry Griggs, and then a tiny audience that was nonetheless fun to be with. We had a good Book Tour evening together.

Guelph -- One more many-star store! The Bookshelf, with owner Barbara and manager Dan Evans, plus a restaurant/bar, plus a movie theatre -- a cultural hub. At last, after exchanging 100s of emails, I happily met Dan Wells of Biblioasis. Then Terry Griggs and I were joined by Kari Grimstad, widow of Hans Eichner, the author of "Kahn & Engelmann." In a magical Book Tour way, our three readings all leaned towards the comic, and the large audience had a good time.

Windsor -- A unique venue, the Canadian Anglo Club, on a little strip mall. Ah, the decline of Empire. . . yet within, no decline! Dartboards, flags, a startling handpainted mural of Britain, and a terrific spread of culturally appropriate food prepared by Biblioasis' publicity manager Laurie Smith: cucumber sandwiches, Peek Frean biscuits, a huge trifle, and Empire cookies. Paul Vasey, retired CBC host, interviewed me as part of the evening's entertainment.

Toronto again -- in the reference branch of the Public Library I clicked on the Globe's review of The English Stories. Such a moment when that headline appeared: "In A Class Of Her Own." I'll savour that Book Tour memory too.

Now I'm back in Vancouver, resettling into my life here.

The day after my return we went with friends for a picnic in the arboretum at Riverview. That's a sad though beautiful place, once a vast institution for thousands of mentally ill people; now it houses only a few hundred. The grounds are large and feature many unique or unusual trees, planted over nearly a century by devoted gardeners. Sycamore maples, camperdown elms, rare locusts and oaks and tulip trees -- all have been spared the pruning that trees in parks usually suffer. Need I say that the condo developers have their eye on this spectacular greenspace?
We wandered about the greensward among these huge beautiful creatures, trees tall enough to make worlds of their own. At one point we lay down on the grass under an enormous European beech and looked up. From a distance the leaves had looked dark red, almost black, but now they were soft green edged with pink, in a great plume against the pale blue sky of early evening.

That made a beautiful end to Book Tour.

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