Once upon a time, in a glorious place called East Van, there lived a young woman who had a little artist studio. It sat on a piece of land that nobody else wanted because it wasn’t pretty, but it didn’t matter, because she loved it very much. She and her friends used the space to make magic happen. She was known for her beautiful voice which could sing high or low, and soften the hardest of hearts. She played upright bass with it’s low hums and also a saw, coaxing high ethereal sounds from it. She also played the accordion, hugging it as it wheezed sounds like a favourite old dog. Her friends also played music with her, and it could be heard drifting from the little artist space over the rooftops of the old houses in East Vancouver. When people heard the music, they couldn’t help but smile.
She and all her friends also painted and made wonderful works of art. When they had enough to cover all the walls, they invited other people to their space to see it, and played music. People danced, laughed and were in the thrall of the magic. The girl had with her friends made an enchantment over their studio where everyone who walked through the doors were excited and happy. Now the little studio on the land that no one else wanted, was somewhere everyone wanted to be. It was a good time and the girl welcomed all her visitors to it as she would her home.
One day, a group of men came to see the little studio. They had heard it was hip and that it was cool. They met with the girl and her friends and listened to the music they played and saw the wonderful art they created. The men wanted to possess the magic of the little artists studio for themselves. “We’ll buy it from you,” they offered. “Oh no,” the girl replied with a smile. “If you buy it from us, where will we make our music and our art?”. The men were adamant, “But this is the cool place to be. People want to live here because it’s magical.” Suddenly, the little studio on the patch of land in East Van that nobody wanted, EVERYBODY wanted for themselves. But the girl and her friends had worked very hard to make the space theirs and weave their magic there. She said, “I know it’s a wonderful place, but we worked hard to make it this way. And we don’t want to leave it.”
“Fine.” The men said and they stormed off in a huff. As the girl and her friends had made their own magic, these men too had their own magic. Terrible, greedy magic. They were determined to own a little piece of land that now everyone wanted, no matter what. They began casting spells by buying up all the land around the little artist studio. When they owned all the land, they placed a curse on the artist and her friends.
The next morning something strange had happened. The girl and her friends had turned into Canadian geese. Confused, sad, and scared, they flew out and into the day. Everywhere they went, they were shooed away until finally they sought refuge under a bridge in Granville Island, in a little park. There was a pond there, and many children who fed them delicious seeds. But the girl and her friends were heartbroken, having been driven from their little artists studio in East Van. She couldn’t play an instrument because of her wings and feathers, and she could no longer sing in her wonderful voice. All that came out was a HONK that the children laughed at. The artist and her friends spent many nights under the weeping willow tree, crying with their heads tucked into their wings.
But then something wonderful happened. When the men who had cursed the artist and her friends bulldozed the little studio and when they did, all the magic that had been stored in there was released. In a strange twist, the ability to sing in her wonderful voice and for her and her friends to play instruments was restored. The men built condos, which were poorly done, charged a lot of money and moved people into them who wanted the magic they had been promised but found none. It had gone back to where it had come from, in the hearts of the artists of East Van.
The next morning, the artist and her friends, waddled up to a group of buskers with instruments and politely asked if they could borrow them. The buskers, being artists themselves, were happy to lend their instruments to these strange and wonderful birds. The Canadian geese picked up and played a fantastic song. All the people in Granville Island stopped everything to come listen and see this wonder. Soon, more and more people came to see the musical Canadian geese play and before long, they had recreated their magic again, even though they were still Canadian geese.
One day, there was a crowd of many people, and the artist and her friends finished their last song. When the last note could no longer be heard, something extraordinary happened: the artist and her friends all turned back into people. They thanked the buskers for sharing their instruments with them and helping them to change back. The buskers and the artists agreed to find a new space to make magic there again.
But why did they change back?
Because the people watching them and listening to their music had an idea. Maybe, it’s not the place we are in that is magical. Maybe the magic is something that we create. It can’t be bought on a parcel of land, a piece of clothing, or a thing. When the people of Vancouver realized that by taking the artists out of the magic space, the artists take their magic with them. Artists will make art no matter where they are forced to go. When the greedy men with their greedy magic realize this, they will no longer look to possess the magic, but maybe make some of their own and help to keep it alive and share it.
The girl and her friends, old and new, eventually found other places. But it didn’t matter where the places were, because in the end, they were always the ones who made the magic happen.
Little Miss Risk
PS: Wonder if this could make a good children’s book?
PPS: I need a good editor. This is the result of high energy cardio, feeding geese and way too much coffee…