On Tuesday, November 24, I set out with Ashley Dunn of McClelland and Stewart for Guelph, Ontario, where something completely different was awaiting us. It was The God’s Gardeners of Guelph, presented by The Bookshelf, one of the great independants (Doug and Barb Minett, props.), at Norfolk United Church.
Turns out that the God’s Gardeners had established a branch of their religion in Guelph, not an unlikely place, as it was first known for its Agricultural College. The Evening Choir welcomed us with their angel-voiced “Oh Lord You Know Our Foolishness,” with music composed by their very own Eve Nine (Sue Smith, who composed the music for all of the Evening Choir hymns: (“Guelph’s own Sue Smith is a singer/songwriter, performer and teacher. She spent 10 years as part of acclaimed vocal trio The Bird Sisters and is a co-founder of the Hillside Festival. Her wonderful debut solo album I’m So was released in 2006.”)
Then Adam Fifteen (Michael Doeleschell) preached the Saint Euell Day sermon, the Choir sang “Holy Weeds,” and Adam Fifteen asked the Oracle to read from her Book of Prophecy. (That would be The Year of the Flood…and me gping around saying it isn’t necessarily a prophecy, it doesn’t have to be that way, etc. Oh well.) Adam Fifteen then read from the Mole Day sermon, the Evening Choir sang the Bright Wings hymn, and three new Gardener initiates come forward from the audience and asked the Oracle their questions. (Which the Oracle answered as best she could!)
The evening concluded with Adam Fifteen hoping for the best and the Evening Choir singing “The Earth Forgives,” in joyful though pensive tune, led by Sue on the piano. Then the Oracle — rather uncharacteristically for Oracles, usually they just go into trances and writhe — signed books. No writhing, sorry!
A pleasure for me was the presence of Jennie and Colin Wiebe, who, some years ago when they were just kids, spent a couple of summers on Meadowlark Farm on Pelee Island, doing — unbeknownst to themselves, and even to me, at the time — some early modelling for the God’s Gardeners. Not only did they do the botanicals and the bee-keeping, but they also sang beautifully.
Altogether it was great fun and well thought-through. Thank you, God’s Gardeners of Guelph, and when next I’m there I expect to see all those front lawns dug up and replaced with native-species edible weeds…