Walking with Thunder series takes fifth trek along Millennium Trail

ANOTHER STROLL Conrad Beaubien's fifth chapter of the Walking with Thunder series 'Ice Out on Wellers Bay' took place recently. (Desirée Decoste/Gazette staff)




Even though the wind was brisk and blowing hard, the fifth chapter of DeRAIL’S Walking with Thunder: Ice Out on Wellers Bay by Conrad Beaubien, took to the Millennium Trail for a nice afternoon stroll with around 15-20 masked participants, this time starting at the Smokes Point Road entrance. 

DeRAIL’s 2020-21 program on the Millennium Trail takes place during the slower tourism months of October – May, to safely draw people into a placemaking experiment in an open public space to inspire new ways of understanding the popular local trail.

The monthly treks are led by Beaubien, a storyteller who takes you on an adventure into the landscape with Thunder the donkey. 

A passage of self-reveal and a re-finding mission, Walking with Thunder takes a close-up look at the material of every day during this time of social isolation and rapid change. Walking with Thunder is storytelling of today; it’s an exchange with an audience through new media and conventional means of communication. Since their launch in Oct. 2020, Beaubien brings his Walking with Thunder project alive through stories and drawings in his weekly reflections in the Wellington Times.

“The whole idea here is the grounding animals give us,” expressed Beaubien. “The difference between a small animal and Thunder is that this guy is in control. If he really decided to run, which he has done, I have to let go of the rein unless I can turn his head in. So you will see me sometimes we will stop along the trail and give him a chance to look behind because he hears 360 degrees, there is eight muscles in each of his ears and so he just wants to know what’s going on around so I stop once in a while or he’ll stop. And what I’ve learned a lot is paying attention and watch and see what he’s hearing and sometimes you just stare out there wondering what he’s thinking and then he’ll start moving again. He’s really becoming accustomed to being around people, he enjoys the walks”

As part of the walk Beaubien invites special guests/artists who come and show their craft and/or tell about it. Invited on the March walk was poet Jane Macdonald and owner of Thyme Again Gardens Lorraine Schmidt with partner Lori Aselstine.

Schmidt spoke of their farm and how everything comes into play, to not plucking the weeds to digging in the garden with the chickens, and what and how important a yield is.

“Together with Lori we run Thyme Again Gardens and have been for about 25 years,” stated Schmidt “In the 25 years so many changes have happened on the farm and so many things have grown. One year we do one thing and the next year we change to another thing- it’s all about change, change is so important to us and that we can go along with it and accept the change. What I’ve learned over the years is that a yield is not just what we eat or what we take off the farm. A yield is so much more. That’s the pleasure we have with our animals that is treating them, there is a yield of eggs but also from the chickens yield is the feathers, we have them scratching the ground it’s all part of it, so what the animals are doing we’re actually doing to we actually go out in the garden and dig and we had the pigs that were rooting up and that’s what we do to and so we have all these connections with the animals. But I thought naw I don’t want to do all the hard work, let the animals do the work and they have done that in an amazing way.”

At different parts of the walk, Macdonald read three of her poems . The first poem was Macdonald’s first impression of how people are responding to our pandemic situation. The second poem was about spring and finding your lighter clothing and getting out your raincoat. She finished the walk off with a poem she said would maybe would touch on something “untalkaboutable.”

“As I’m listening to Lorraine speaking, a lot of things are coming through my mind,” Macdonald said. “The oral tradition of the stories we tell each other and how perhaps in horoscope and in other ways of folk remembering what we know about the land and also just noticing and observing and experimenting, and what I really love about poetry is what I notice I get to put down on a page and when I come back to it later it’s like, yeah I can see what I noticed. And just the thought of well, anyway it’s ‘untalkaboutable’ maybe this poem will touch on it”

Beaubien’s love of storytelling has engaged him in a life of the arts. A creator, writer and director of films his expression includes music, painting, and sculpture. Currently writing for stage, Conrad has garnered audiences for recent theatre works: Stringman’, ‘Back of Hoards Station’, ‘Bridge Street ‘and ‘The Undoing of Billy Slim’. Living in Prince Edward County, he shares a two centuries old worker’s cottage with squirrels in the attic.

“All these walks I’ve somehow drawn myself to bridges and I began to realize, really the significants of bridges right now in the era we’re living in because in many ways we cross over from one life into another and its definitely a passage.

And we’re there right now that’s what’s happening right now with all the natural world and everything, the messages are out there. So the idea of the bridge and then when I look at the architecture of the bridge very briefly, to have a bridge the architecture involves all the various beams and cross beams and posts, that to me is very symbolic of the unity, and we can do that, we can hold up a bridge, we can make it happen.”

DeRAIL Platform for Art and Architecture is a registered nonprofit, independent arts producer, and alternative platform for dialogue and collaboration across disciplinary, geographical, and ideological boundaries. DeRAIL commissions and produces place-specific art projects to foster new conversations about public space design. Established in 2016, they bring urban and rural landscapes to life through contemporary art by moving beyond the walls of a traditional gallery space to offer a new experience to both citizens as participants and artists as contributors.

 DeRAIL is co-founded and co-curated by landscape architect Victoria Taylor (VTLA) and designer and public art curator Gelareh Saadatpajouh. With years of combined experience as designers, artists, exhibition and public art curators, these two cultural producers push the definition of public art to produce unique and creative socially-engaged/place-specific art and programs. Together with collaborators and supporters, their vision is to inspire and expand the public dialogue around contemporary art, placemaking, landscape, and the experience of the outdoor spaces we share.

For more information on Walking with Thunder please visit www.walkingwiththunder.com

For more information on DeRAIL please visit http://derailart.com