During the summer of 2012, Jody and I spent two weeks visiting her brother Lance, our sister-in-law Nona, and their three boys – Jaxon, Jagger and Jace. They live in the village of Longview, Alberta, in the foothills of the Rockies southwest of Calgary.
We had a great time, camping in the Kananaskis, hiking in the mountains, sitting around watching TV, and talking at exquisite length to people we love. I wanted to spend some time on my own as well, and so dipsydoodled around Longview to see what’s what and who’s where.
I wandered into a gift shop on Main St., and was thoroughly welcomed by the woman behind the counter. She was Donna. We just fell into conversation as if we’d been bosom buddies since the beginning of time. We talked Alberta and we talked art, since she was selling originals and prints done by a local artist, Bernie Brown. I ended up buying a drawing that showed a medicine man in mid-dance, but that wasn’t the important thing. Donna was important. She glowed. It didn’t matter the topic – she breathed life into every word, and the wrinkles by her eyes got a workout. Other folks came into the store and she lighted up with them as well, drawing out their humanity and humour with ease. Then she’d chat with me some more. Ahhh. I went back to visit her two more times. Such a pleasure.
One day, Jody and I were walking along a residential street when along comes a gentleman dressed up cowboy, complete with a ten-gallon hat. He was smiling at us from way back. And then we to him. He was Pete. As we got near each other, I noticed that he had a large pink price tag on the toe of one boot. After a few minutes of good-natured Easterner razzing on Pete’s part (and a similar repartee from Jody and me), I decided to broach the footwear topic. “Oh, that. Still haven’t decided if I want to keep these boots so I left the sticker right where it was, for an easy return if need be.” We laughed. He laughed. Pete became an instant friend.
Later in the week, I was sitting on the front deck of a bar on Main St., having an orange juice (or some reasonable facsimile), when I spied Pete strolling along on the sidewalk across the street. He spotted me too, and started waving madly. I naturally waved back, and yelled “Hi, Pete”. Neither he nor I was remotely troubled by the looks we received from the other sunning patrons. Truly, who cares?
The following week, having found out where Pete lived, I knocked on his front door. How did he respond to the unscheduled visitor? “Come on in.” (Big smile) He was preparing supper and listening to the day’s rodeo on the radio. Sure, he wanted to hear the results of the bull riding and the bronco busting, but he kept me and our conversation front and centre in his brain. So very much like himself.
So .. friends around every corner? I think so. Just gotta say “Hi”.