We’re all in the need of a melody


Blue Skies: by Vance Gutzman

I’ve got something to put in the Match-Up column.

BACKPACK: A blue backpack has been hanging from a branch of a tree off a trail where I walk my dog daily.

My dog’s name is not daily. If my dog’s name was daily I would have capitalized the D. My dog’s name is darwin. I mean Darwin.

I’ve already checked and the blue backpack doesn’t have a big bag of weed in it. I even went back to double check and all this blue backpack contains is two empty pop cans.

I’ve already checked and they’re not stuffed full of weed either.

If the blue backpack’s owner wishes to claim it they can contact me and I’ll tell them which branch of which tree off which trail it’s hanging from, but only if they bring me a big bag of weed. Or two cans of weed.

I don’t wish to appear greedy at Christmas… just trying to weed out the blue backpack’s owner.

I was reflecting upon that blue backpack, hanging forlornly as it still is from the branch of that tree, as I was sitting up in Swisha this past Sunday, waiting for Santa.

Normally I don’t sit around Swisha, waiting for Santa, especially a full six days before Christmas. Mind you, back in the day I used to sit around Swisha, waiting for a ride home.

And mind you, that was at three in the morning, outside the Second Hotel, at last call, and the only reason I was sitting was because I was having difficulty standing.

No, this past Sunday I was sitting around Swisha in the comfort of my car, waiting for Santa Claus to make his appearance in the village’s annual Christmas parade.

It was early in the afternoon and I was parked just up the hill from Lance’s Convenience.

From my vantage point, looking to the left and down the hill, I could just make out the First Hotel. Hidden from view, up to the right and around the corner, was the Second Hotel.

Guesstimating, I was about halfway between the two.

Of course, neither the First nor Second Hotel exists anymore, just the buildings which used to house them, filled with memories of both hotels, spanning back generations.

It’s one o’clock on a Saturday.

Bet you thought I was going to start singing Piano Man, didn’t you?

But the lyrics to that song start off with “It’s nine o’clock on a Saturday,” yet I wonder why there’s an old man sitting next to me, making love to his tonic and gin.

Hey, some people celebrate parades differently. Who am I to judge an old man waiting for Santa?

No, if it was nine o’clock on a Saturday that’s when Deep River would be holding its Christmas parade because in Deep River it’s not a Christmas parade unless it’s darker than my mother-in-law’s heart, necessitating the floats to be garnished with 3.2 gudzillion garish electric Christmas lights in order that they can be seen, so the town can live up to its new slogan “Live in Colour”.

Me, I’d rather be live in Swisha at one o’clock on a Saturday.

Swisha may not have the market cornered on electric Christmas lights like Deep River down the river, but is far more democratic in that it doesn’t require its citizens to spend money on electric Christmas lights in the first place simply to celebrate a season marking the birth of the world’s most humble man.

No, anyone in Swisha can take part in the Christmas parade because it’s one o’clock on a Saturday, meaning people can see and be seen without the aid of electric lights.

You don’t need to spend a hundred dollars to participate in Swisha’s Christmas parade. All you need to do is participate.

Even the old man who was sitting next to me has gotten (is too a word, for purposes of this column) out of my car and into the spirit of things and has joined in on the parade, making love to his tonic and gin while walking just behind the lady who has entered her two handsome dogs in the parade, dressed in their reindeer hats, and ahead of the guy driving a loader with small smiling children in the cab waving to spectators like me who are watching the beautiful daylight spectacle from the side of the street, about halfway between the First and Second Hotels.

It’s one o’clock on a Sunday, as I’m putting the wraps on this annual Christmas column the day after the parade, and I’m about halfway between joy and despair.

About halfway between fame and obscurity. About halfway between a rock and a hard place.

About halfway up the street, where I’ll be taking my dog Darwin for his third walk of the daily soon, there’s a house with an inflatable nativity scene in its front yard.

Now, Darwin hates inflatable anythings, and the big lunatic tries to attack it every time we walk past.

He doesn’t understand that you’re not allowed to eat Baby Jesus, and gets even more confused when I tell him that if we get dressed up nicely we can go to church and eat the Body of Christ.

Can’t say as I blame poor Darwin because I don’t understand much of anything these days myself.

I understand it’s Christmas but Covid seems to have taken the merry out of it.

So all I want for Christmas this year is for the owner of that blue backpack to get in touch with me and I’ll tell them which branch of which tree off which trail it’s hanging from, but only if they bring me a big bag of weed. Or two cans of weed.

We’re all in need of a melody, and we’ve got to be feelin’ alright.

Especially when the world’s gone to pot.

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