I am grateful for Tina and for our friendship, the kind of friendship that grows when we are young and full of ideas, friendship that finds its birth before the world turns its complicated side on us, the kind of friendship that has no ending, even when forty years falls between being face to face.
I’ve had a reunion with just such a friend. We share a time and space that was quiet and accepting, that was safe and restorative, that was innocent and pure. And all the textures, smells and sounds of those moments are tucked firmly away where time can’t get them and dim their value, can’t silence the honesty and certainly can’t lock up the laughter. We were, in the purest sense of understanding, friends. And the summer of our youth is a place I visit to find comfort, to find joy, to find purpose, and just to remember.
Forty years flew by in what seems like a heartbeat and we have come together, perhaps a little battle weary, perhaps with a heavier step and with no evidence of having a bounce, but very much intact and we celebrated in a single long drawn-out hug all that was.
Tina twisted her fine blonde hair up into a knot in the back of her head, pushed the loose strands from her face as she taught me to play the guitar. We rode horses and explored along my Rainy River farm. Tina and I camped. We paddled a canoe across the quiet of Rainy Lake and found shelter on a rock beneath white pines and birches. We encouraged small mouth bass on to our fishing line and then cooked them in foil that snapped and sizzled in our small fire and ate the fish with our fingers. I can hear still the paddle bumping on the side of the canoe, feel the cool water on my hands and on my toes and legs and all of me as we slipped beneath the water, shivering until our body adjusted. I can hear the sound from Tina’s flute and recorder drift up around us and take us somewhere within the magic of sound.
We slept under the stars, in our sleeping bags, swatting at mosquitoes until they gave up and let us be. We pointed at constellations and felt small and insignificant and valuable all in the same breaths.
Tina was and is a musician of the extraordinary kind. She is able to create sounds that she pulls from her past and from her future, from her environment and from her imagination and it is her innate talent that I celebrate with such vigour. Her music is about Rainy Lake, the deep earthy green of the water on Red Gut Bay, the glass clinking of waves on rock, the soft thick thud of stepping on moss and the crunch of lichen. Her music is about being a daughter and being a mother. Her music is about all things real.
So we came together in Victoria, her now home, and we laughed easily and eagerly, we cried a wee bit from the remembering and the value of having loved each other, of the trust we counted on. And we said our good-byes, knowing now that as real friendship ensures, we will never forget each other.