Opal’s life is dictated by my activities. Where I go, she goes. Lucky for her, I tend to go to varied and interesting places. Yesterday, for example, we attended the annual ILRC (Independent Living Resource Centre–now renamed ILC Independent Living Canada) picnic. It was held on the grounds behind the Natural History Museum; a perfectly lovely and fully accessible setting. She dodged wheel chairs and scooters like a pro. Once again, she shone when the guy with the nutty guide dog allowed his dog to wander (in harness) and attempt to pin Opal into, uuhmm… a compromising position. Actually it’s all about the handler, not the dog. It’s the handler’s responsibility to keep track of what their dog is up to. I yelled out, “John, sort your dog out!” while ensuring that his ‘boy’ did not get too carried away and that Opal maintained her cool. We were waiting in the food line at the time. My friend remarked that John had not noticed that his dog’s paws were stationary on the hot paved path. I had Opal on the grass beside it. It boggles my mind that handlers don’t think more about the comfort and safety of their guides. We eventually got our plates and settled at a table in the shade to enjoy our meal. The food was excellent; a Mediterranean feast of tabbouleh, humus, vegie cabbage rolls, pita, tomatoes and olives. Later, an excellent baklava was served. Numerous prizes were drawn, and my friend won a t-shirt. The after-food activities included visits from a face painter ( Opal and I passed), an offer to create a chef d’oeuvre from a balloon artist ( I passed on that too, given my irrational fear of balloons popping). However, when we were invited to join the drum circle, my interest peaked. A drum circle facilitator (Heather Pentz of Tidal Beat) passed out dozens of drums and shakers. SHE had a Djembe drum which I fell in love with. Djembe drums have a wonderful, rich sound that, in the right hands, can soothe, rouse, calm, or move (emotionally) whomever is in the circle. It brought back memories of Saturday mornings in Montreal where, on the slope of Mount Royal, upwards of 25 Djembe drummers would gather to play together. It was an intoxicating experience that I recall sharing with hundreds of other Montrealais who would gather to listen. I imagine they still do. The little drum circle at the picnic was not quite of that caliber, but I enjoyed it all the same, as well as the trip down memory lane. Opal appreciated it too. At the very least, she liked the smell of the goat skin drum cover stretched over a hand carved base of West African wood. I KNOW Opal ‘gets the beat’, like her mum. Hmm. I sense the purchase of a Djembe drum in our future! I think it’s my answer to my search for a ‘stress-buster’.
Thanks to ILRC and it’s director, Lois Miller who always puts together a great event. Her dedicated work and unparalled commitment to the community is appreciated by so many. Her husband (sound guy) and staff are remarkable people who always help out and make it a fun event for some folks who don’t always have an opportunity to ‘step out’.