Late afternoon last summer, I took a cruise through downtown High River. Every business was closed, boarded up, caged, devastated – all except Evelyn’s Memory Lane. An apt metaphoric irony for our lost downtown, since we are all full of memories of the place as it was before the flood of 2013 – busy, vibrant, beautiful.
I moved back to High River last year, having been away for 25 years. I found it had grown into a place where I wanted to live again – with funky little businesses like Colossis Coffee, the famous Gitter’s Pub, Red Bag and Mel’s Music all adding to a sense of community. Murals on the walls, flowers along our historic streets, mature trees, parks and pathways giving High River a feeling of both growth and permanency. And of course our friend the Highwood River flowing peacefully through it all.
So much has changed since then. As I drove by the barber shop, there were posted the words “we’ll be back” in handwritten letters – brave and hopeful. My heart filled up, feeling for all those people whose businesses and homes were swept away. Will they be back? Can everything that is wrong be righted somehow?
Driving out of town past the old Couey place, I saw they had posted a sign for their refugees: the words “High River Strong.” It was the first time I saw the phrase, now a kind of mantra for all of us who live here. Every day our town gets a little stronger. With the help of our neighbors, and the strength in our hearts, we will recover. And even if things are never the same, maybe some things are better now than they ever were before. We in High River know now that people care. And that will give us the strength to move forward.
As I continued to my destination, the words “high river strong” echoed through my heart and mind in the form of a song. It’s been a long time since a song has come along for me with this kind of insistence. With the help of my friends Leeroy Stagger and John Ellis, we have created a single which we are releasing to raise funds for the High River Flood Relief Fund. Along with the song, available here via download, we’re also putting out a compilation disc featuring “High River Strong” plus songs from all four of my previous releases. I’ll be releasing it with a concert at Spitzee Post Pub at the Heritage Inn on Saturday October 5, at 8:00 PM. Afterwards you will be able to find it for sale in stores throughout the Foothills area, as well as by mail order and download through cdbaby.com.
Thanks for listening. And stay strong.