Friday, September 7, 2012

A very small coming of age story

B is letting us edit here to let you know that we have a new blog called "herbandartmuse". We chose Wordpress as our new blog home, and we are having difficulties understanding some of the ins and outs, but at least we CAN publish posts. We can't yet understand how to make the blog available to those who use Blogger, so if you would like to visit  "herbandartmuse", you could scroll down B's bloglist here, and click on "herbandartmuse".
Miaooow for now!! ... er we mean Ciaooow for now!! 
Herb and Art :)

I am remembering the late 1960's, and me as an awkward 13 year old. Our family had moved into a lovely new home, and my youngest uncle, Uncle Brian, came to visit for Christmas. I remember feeling shy around this uncle, who'd divorced my beautiful aunt, and was now living in Toronto. This was my favourite uncle, but he didn't know it. I'd grown up, having him and Grandma, living in the basement suite of our small home, but now everything had changed.

 In the late 1960's my family moved, from our small bungalow on Mullin Avenue, to a larger house, in a new neighbourhood, with undeveloped lots, and spindly saplings for trees. I had watched Uncle Brian grow up from a 13 year old boy entering high school, get married, move to Calgary for university, become a young business man, settle down with his lovely, intelligent wife, and their fluffy Samoyed dog. And then, the news that he had divorced and moved to Toronto felt like something shameful, not to be discussed, and so I found myself awkward, and even abit afraid around him. I believe it had something to do with feeling sorry for him, and afraid to say the wrong thing.

 As was my usual custom, as a child I eavesdropped when my parents had company. Generally, once my brothers and I had settled in upstairs for bed, I would soon sit at the top of the stairs, and just listen. I always was fascinated by what there was to learn about the world of adults, and most particularly the secret knowledge I might acquire about my parents and their siblings lives. I believe this may have been, because there were always undercurrents in our family, as there are in many families. Things that were not right - that were painful, disturbing, and sometimes even frightening. So, I would listen, store the information, and try to solve some of the mysteries of why things were unhappy in our home, perhaps with some thought of fixing them. I think this was the beginnings of my interest in psychology, and mysteries as well.:)

The Christmas, Uncle Brian came to visit, without his wife, and now newly living in Toronto, I naturally found myself sitting at the top of the stairs listening to the adults talk. Uncle Brian was talking about a street called "Yonge Street" and various small coffee shops where he went to listen to music, and mainly he talked about Gordon Lightfoot.

That Christmas, was for me a changing point, when I began to think more deeply about my family, and about the world, and why people would divorce, and what was happening out in the world. I felt quite alone at this time, not understanding that my family was not singular - that others were going through similar changes and upheavals. We were unique of course in many ways, as each family is, but as well we lived in a certain time, and were affected by it.

It didn't take long for me to find the music of Gordon Lightfoot, and become entranced by the beauty of his songs. Now, 44 years later, I'm listening to his music all over again, and rediscovering how fine his songs are. In some of Lightfoots' more recent performances, which I've watched through the magic of Youtube, he seems truly happy and lighthearted. His love for his music, and performing is very evident.  I found the following interview on Youtube, and am sharing it here. If you enjoy his music, you may enjoy this interview as well. It's quite long, so I  understand if you choose not to listen. :)


Geraldine said...

What an interesting post Brenda. I can SO relate to listening to "the grown ups" when they thought I was sleeping! And I remember well, the lovely house you moved to in Whitmore.

Love live Gordie! What a Canadian gem eh...On Yonge St and for all of us. I used to think about him sometimes, when I walked along that street, many years ago and also visited Yorkville. Never met him personally but as you know, did enjoy his concerts several times.

Happy Weekend, G

Mullin Avenue Workshop said...

It would be interesting to take a poll of how many adults eavesdropped on their parents, when they were thought to be in bed, sleeping. :0

I absolutely thought of you when listening to this interview...did you realize he was born in 1938? I hadn't and was abit Mom was born in 1937.

Do you recall the name of a famous coffee house that he was known for playing at in Yorkville? I think that was what my uncle was talking about all those years ago, but I "mis-remembered", and thought it was Yonge St.

I really admire his musical genius, talent at performing, and really he has a joie de vivre, doesn't he now in his elder years? It seems as if he's truly having the time of his life.

I'm glad you enjoyed this, and hope you have a great weekend.
Are you having good fall weather?

Teri Casper said...

Add me as a young listener also. I related to your post totally. I think listening to the adults also gave me was delightful to learn that my parents grew up having adventures and fun just like the rest of us.
I also like Gordon Lightfoot and how nice that he evokes these memories.

Mullin Avenue Workshop said...

Hi, there, Teri,
Thanks for your delightful comment, it's always cheering to hear from you. :)
I'm imagining that you began honing your obsevation skills, when a small child listening in to your parents - and now use these skills to make you amazing sketches of people, nature, and landscapes.

The Boston Lady said...

Oh my gosh Brenda, I think I'm feeling my teen crush all over again. I always loved how his songs told a story. Such a unique artist. And Yonge Street! I grew up until the age of 15 in Toronto and Yonge St in the late 60s early 70s was "the happening" place. Of course, I was too "young" to go on my own, but we often drove in that area and I secretly envied all the young people in that free/bohemian atmosphere. My dad never failed to say "look at the hair on that young lady" and of course, it was a guy. Generation gap!

My parents were a mystery to me growing up as there were many things kept secret or not deemed appropriate for discussion. I can remember feeling frustrated that they were not forthcoming with some family details. I had an uncle who was divorced, but I never knew it for 10 years until he was to marry again. I think it was the way my parents were brought up - Scottish/Swedish/Presbyterian/ultra conservative and somewhat Victorian and formal.

My parents' were wonderful people who did the best they could, but I knew I wanted a different relationship with my children where they could ask questions and get answers. I came to know my parents better as they got older and after I got married and had children. They were more relaxed and forthcoming with info. My brothers and I still wonder sometimes about those mysteries that we couldn't figure out.


Mullin Avenue Workshop said...

Thanks for your comments.
I thought of you growing up in Toronto, and wondered if you had seen Yonge Street.

In many ways I was quite sheltered as well, by my parents, until they separated when I was around 14, and then I did explore more widely.

I never visited Toronto, but did go to Vancouver once or twice, as I had a friend living there. It seemed like an exciting place to me at the time. :)

Your parents sound like wonderful people, and I'm glad to hear that they were able to open up with you as you became a parent.

My parents were very young, Mom was 17 when I was born. But really she was very competent, and did an amazing job with all the arts of raising a family, and homemaking. She was much more competent at 17 then I would have been. But this was more common those days.

Dad had been a boxer when they met, and quite successful in our city and western Canada - I believe he almost made it to the Olympics. So there was a bit of glamour that I felt from my parents, and lots to wonder about.

But truly, they were almost children - Dad was only 20 when I was born. Like your parents, they did do their best. They were fairly flamboyant, as were both their families, so lots for me to listen to, and think about. :)

I so enjoy having you visit here, and your interesting comments, Ann.