Once day broke, the first order of business was taking a picture with Sunny & Jack for Pioneers Press’s contest to win ten copies of Adam Gnade’s: The Do it Yourself Guide to Fighting the Big Motherfucking Sad.
It’s the day off and Bella started barking at me from across the field while Alex and her headed out. We stood over the fence and wished each other twenty-four hours of rest and recuperation; after so many long days and sleepless nights this tech week. Alex asked if she could borrow the zine to read tonight. I tossed it through the wooden fence into her basket.
As I waved Alex off I saw at my feet my favorite organism on earth – Lichen!
Ullr we need you! Snow is melting fast. The tropical storm that hit the coast is swelling over us, bringing rain and warm breezes. We ran dress rehearsal with the sleigh teams last night. It all went pretty smooth but the teamsters said if it melts anymore; without new snow they’ll have to switch to wagons. Wagons are not terrible but sleighs are faster and we want this adventure to clip. Snow is easier to run in as well. I skidded over ice and splashed though slushy puddles last night, sodden by the time we did post show tech notes. I had my second fall of the winter too. Walking in to preset scene one, Cody radio’d me to say he found his glove. I started laughing and twisted to unclip the radio with my free hand, then -up-down- smash! My first fall was during rehearsal at scene three. I slipped on the hill carrying the little bow & arrow prop, let it go and did a roll. Jay said it looked like I was moving in slow motion. Snowboarding and skateboarding have taught me how to fall without injuring myself. I’ve inadvertently embraced tumbling which use to be my least favorite part of gymnastics. I’ve also come around to stinkbugs! Jay plays a stinkbug in the show and the character is all heart and clumsiness. During tech notes, there was a lil’ stinker slowly crawling along Rachel’s chair with a missing leg and I thought “Oh you poor, little bugger.” Tomorrow we have our first audiences, then hopefully I’ll start to get some sleep.
When the commercial fridge in the cookshack powers up, the lights on stage at Scene one surge as well. If the wood shed light is on: Blackout. Tech week, no sleep. All the horse teams arrive today and learn the route. Tomorrow we run together and really see the dance. Thursday, we have two audiences, 6 & 8pm. Friday, three audiences 4 & 6pm; the 8pm show is considered Opening. Post show party in the cookshack; friends from far and wide; bonfire, howl to the moon – this is the show we’ll play sixty-two times for ten thousand, give or take, people. Come on team, let’s do this!
The snow came in one furious blizzard. I drove home from the farm that night at 40 kms, making the journey three and a half hours in a surreal whirl of white flakes and head lights. Cars pulled over or on their sides in ditches. Tensely gripping the wheel, hunched forward. I turned off the radio when I realized the news was only making me feel worse and listened to the wipers. Oil field trucks speeding past coating my windshield in slush. I was so relieved to get home to a brightly lit house and Darby practicing piano.
Luka’s going to stay at home till we open the show. It’s too busy and crazy for her to keep up with me here and she doesn’t like being cooped up in the cabin. She made this clear by tearing all her bedding into tiny pieces, something she has only done twice before in the three years she’s lived with us.
After a day to re-coop, I drove back to the farm the next morning long before dawn for the second week of rehearsals. Judas Priest Sad Wings of Destiny and black-as-fucking-metal coffee keeping me focused on the drive back, rising my spirits up for the brutal, cold weather ahead.
Week two we transition the show out of the wood heat rehearsal hall and into the forest and fields. The winds came screaming all day from the south. -21 Celcius. There is no time to lose when making theatre under the gun. We took a break and all clustered around the wood stove in the cookshack. Kim looked at me with his ice blue eyes and frost melting off his beard “How do we keep convincing ourselves that this is a good idea?!” I laughed, my face numb and frozen, fingers defrosting and aching as I tried to write a schedule change on the chalk board.
Yesterday it was only -15 C, the sun was out and the winds were calm. We were rehearsing scene three in the asparagus field, near Jason’s old hitching post. Alex was practicing his Cree pow wow dance atop the knoll, carefully footing over the ice. Cheri, Mohawk nation, standing next to me in her Skokomina headdress, both of us squinting into the sun watching Alex slowly spin with his arms outstretched. She turned, almost clocking me with the beak and smiling said “It’s times like these I can’t believe this is my job.”