Monday, December 09, 2019

Geese and things

I've been hard at work on our annual Christmas poem (I'm nearly finished now) and as I was thinking about design, I kept coming back to the rocket-birds Zoë drew (to entertain Alexander, our resident bird-lover) and how much she loves the song Christmas is Coming.

Whenever she sings it she ends it with a little sneeze because, you know, the last line is "God bless you."

Anyway, as I was thinking about her drawing goose-like creatures and about her singing this song (all the time, guys, all the time), I thought her little Christmas goose-obsession needed to be immortalized in the Christmas newsletter, so I sprinkled her little geese throughout along with some lines from goose songs and poems.

I don't know if it's because I'm Canadian or what, but I'm aware of several. I chose three to highlight in this year's newsletter: Christmas is Coming (of course), Something Told the Wild Geese (by Rachel Field), and Wild Goose (by Wade Hemsworth).

The latter song I first learned from my teacher in grade four, Mr. Lowe. He was a folk musician on the side and he taught us all sorts of wonderful songs. When my family moved in the middle of the year, he gave me a cassette of a recording he'd done with a friend of his. One of the songs on the cassette was Wild Goose (and, honestly, I like their version much better than the video I found of Wade Hemsworth himself performing it).

I still have that tape; I've loved the songs for years, finding some comfort in them as I've left home after home behind. I thought today that I should tell my teacher that I still have his tape but I cannot find a trace of him on the internet (that's not quite true; I found a few very small dead-end clues, but only after a whole lot of searching)! What I did find was his friend from the tape. I knew her last name from the paper in the cassette (Sidor & Lowe) and I remembered her first name from Mr. Lowe talking about her in class. So I searched for her and found her and emailed her and she already emailed me back and it was such a lovely exchange!

She told me she's done a couple of other recordings since then, and although she hasn't heard from Mr. Lowe in quite some time, she had just received a Christmas card from his daughter so she knew he was alive and well. She promised she'd forward my email on to him.

So that's kind of fun!

I thought it was kind of funny that I knew right where to find the tape—which I was given twenty-five years ago now and which I don't even have a player for (no matter—Andrew transferred it onto a CD for me years ago (not that I have a CD player anymore; no matter—that's what digital files are for) and which has been packed and unpacked more than a dozen times. This music has travelled the world with me (in one form or another).


I finished reading The First Four Years to the kids tonight, the last book in the Little House series. Laura isn't so sure she wants to settle down on a farm forever, for she was raised as a pioneer and has a bit of wanderlust. I sympathize with her.

Settling down is scary, but here we are with a house and a steady job to which we've committed several years of our lives. It's fine...

The last few pages really resonated with me this evening.

That poor couple went through a lot of terrible things their first few years of marriage, but the fourth year was probably the worst—with their baby dying and their house burning down in just a few weeks. But still, they decided to keep trying:
"It would be a fight to win out in this business of farming, but strangely [Laura] felt her spirit rising for the struggle.
The incurable optimism of the farmer who throws his seed on the ground every spring, betting it and his time against the elements, seemed inextricably to blend with the creed of her pioneer forefathers that 'it is better farther on'—only instead of farther on in space, it was farther on in time, over the horizon of the years ahead instead of the far horizon of the west."
I suppose every day, then, is a chance to blaze a trail through the unknowns of the future.


Oh, and here's a video of Alexander singing O Christmas Tree, if you're patient enough to listen your way through it. He reminds me of Beaker with his "Meh-meh-meh-meh! Meh-meh-meh-meh!" I think he finally sings it around 1:45. Zoë doesn't know the chords for this song yet so she's just strumming with all her strings open (and belting out the tune). So don't mind her...


  1. I loved those videos! Also, I am so glad that you are trying to get in touch with Mr. Lowe! I LOVE the Sidor & Lowe tape! Could you maybe share the digital file with me? I would love to listen to them again! Mr. Lowe and music and maypole dancing! What a great, creative teacher he was!