Friday, January 1, 2010

new years eve in clayton

a while back i decided that i would spend New Years Eve in a different city each year. last year i spent it in Lakefield, Ontario, about a stone's throw from Peterborough (you know you're in rural Ontario when Peterborough is the nearest big city to drive to), hanging out with some special friends at Eccles' cottage Shady Acres.

this year, rob and i headed down to Clayton (guess i love rural Ontario), where a bunch of his buddies were hosting a party at the Clayton Community Centre. here's an interesting fact: Clayton is so small that it doesn't have a wikipedia page. the Clayton Community Centre doesn't show up on google maps. it's a little eerie...and old fashioned. i mean, let's be fair, i always thought that until the age of eight, i grew up in small town USA, but as it turns out, my childhood stomping grounds Highland, Ulster County, was not actually big enough to qualify as a "town", or even a "village" was a hamlet (although apparently big enough to have a Wikipedia page).

well, Clayton is a part of the larger Mississippi Mills, which altogether *is* big enough to qualify as a town. we actually have spent a lot of time here over the years, especially rob, who hangs out with the surprisingly thriving community of musicians here. the area is home to the recording studio of Ken Friesen who has worked with Canadian artists over the years such as the Tragically Hip, the Sadies, and Hawksley Workman. it's also where the Concert on the Clyde takes place every year, the summer festival which seems to always catch acts just before they become huge (like Tokyo Police Club, Land of Talk, Kate Maki). it's also the home of Tracy Brown and Randall Prescott, of the juno award winning country group Family Brown fame.

anyway, enough raving about Mississippie Mills, which has a name that sounds like it should be deep in the South where it's so hot all you have the energy to do is sit on your porch and lazily pluck at your half-strung banjo, as opposed to being knee deep in wintery snow in vast farmfields lit only by the full moon casting a strange purple glow on the blizzard. the Community Centre attracted all sorts of folks, the whole family - not my family, mind you, who would not be caught dead in town without a Chinatown - but other people's entire families.

the party featured acts Adam Puddington, Tracy Brown and Randall Prescott, their children's band Prescott (how often do your parents open for you?), and the Brother Chaffey. most importantly, for me, the party also featured a proper lunch, as in the practice held by some parts of rural Canada (like Manitoba) where they serve an extra meal in the middle of the night. i whole-heartedly approve of this custom.

the country music set the right mood for the party. people were filling the place up, dancing with everyone else's daddies, and there were more men's plaid shirts than you could shake a stick at. beer was served too, although my choice of Coors, Molson Canadian, and Budweiser at four bucks each made me really miss Holland, where you could get delicious Grolsch, Heineken, and Amstel beer on tap for one euro apiece, and also you could hop the train to the nearby Belgium where you could get EVERY AMAZING BEER YOU DARED TO DREAM OF. sadly, as much as i've always proclaimed my loyalty to Canadian beer (which is at least better than American beer), my New Years Eve sobriety was not due to any religious convictions about temperance, or a renewal of the straight edge teatoler movement, but simply because i couldn't stomach downing more than two beers.

midnight hit with balloons popping everywhere and my discovery that you can't kiss your loved ones and blow noisemakers at the same time, and Tracy Brown's dismayed disapproval that this generation doesn't know the words to Auld Lang Syne (although interestingly enough, the Korean national anthem used to be set to the melody of Auld Lang Syne). afterwards, folks headed off to an after-party at a farm owned by rob's friend, but i was too pooped to continue (Curley's comment: "rednecks don't fall asleep in cars on the way to a hoedown afterparty") so rob and i took the slow, long journey through the blizzard home. by the way, for my non-ottawa readers: IT'S STILL SNOWING IN OTTAWA.

it was a fun way to ring in the new year, and the new decade, and quite different from where i was, ten years ago in 1999: stuck at a church service with my parents, wondering what was going to happen when Y2K hit and all the machines in the whole world shut down, secretly hoping Thom Yorke would show up at the church and kiss me at midnight.