Seeking the Past

A few days ago, when I was visiting Sharyn in Mannville, Alberta, I asked her if she’d be willing to drive me to Myrnam. Later, she told me that her first thought was “Why does he want to go there? It’s just an ordinary village.” Ha, ha! Perhaps this makes me strange, Sharyn.

Maybe thirty-five years ago, I was in this area of Alberta, visiting family. I crested the hill west of Myrnam just before sunset. A vast vista of rolling hills and ponds greeted me, bathed in a warm pinkish light. I was stunned by the beauty. And I’ve carried that sublime vision with me to Ontario and beyond. “Myrnam. Ahh.”

Now it’s 2019, and I’m approaching that hill once more, this time in the full light of day. But something’s wrong: there’s no vista, the light is flat, the gazing down seems blocked by trees. Where’s the magic? In response, I’m so disoriented. Did I make all this up? Have I held onto a lie all these years?

***

Yesterday, I drove down from near Edmonton to Lethbridge to visit Jody’s uncle Ray. Five hours of big sky and the sweet contours of the land. I booked a room in the Lethbridge Lodge Hotel, a place of memories: Jody and I having a cocktail in the lounge in an interior courtyard full of towering trees and splendid flowering plants. The breakfast room full of conversation and slanting sun.

The current truth was different. The hotel is under reconstruction. Towering blue tarps reduce the lobby to a temporary front desk. The lounge in the courtyard is gone, replaced by rectangular tables apparently only used for the breakfast buffet. The room of vast windows is now an Italian restaurant, with tiny panes bringing in only a small fraction of the outside world. Who pulled away my memories?

And now I smile. Clinging to images of the past … and then letting them go. Silly goose. I vote for the future. After all, my eyeballs do point forward. What moments can we create together just beyond the horizon?

A Little Adventure

Why not create moments of oomph in my life?  And why not do it every day?

On Wednesday, I got an idea.  My neighbours Borot and Petra were about to leave on a 12-day Caribbean cruise.  They’d be spending a few days on the road before walking up the gangplank and they were so excited about it all.  Borot told me that they’d be setting off this morning sometime between 5:00 and 6:00.

So I did what any normal human being would do.  I bought a 20-pack of Timbits from my local Tim Hortons coffee shop.  They’re tiny donut balls – majorly yummy.  I went to bed early, setting the alarm for 4:15.  But I was too excited to sleep much.

After a morning shower, I brewed a cup of coffee, grabbed the Timbits, pulled on my winter coat, toque and mitts and sat down on the porch at 4:55.  I couldn’t wait for Petra’s garage door to start climbing.  I was ready to rush over with a Fare Thee Well present.

5:15.  Not a peep from two houses down.  Oh well.  The coffee’s good.  5:30.  The coffee’s cold so I rushed inside to the microwave, somehow believing that I could hear the garage door from my kitchen.  5:33.  Local human being bursts onto his porch, cup in hand.  Walks down the street.  Sees that there aren’t any lights on in Borot’s home.  Gosh, they better start showering soon.

5:45.  Nyet.  Those Timbits start looking good.  Then a possibility hits me: my friends left before 5:00.  Strangely, though I felt a twinge of disappointment at the prospect, I was almost giddily happy.  I’d never sat on my porch at this hour, watching pinkness grow in the east.  I was on a heroic quest but it didn’t seem to matter whether the result was produced.  The journey was lovely.

6:10.  Silence everywhere.  I imagined Petra and Borot zipping down the highway.  I thought of the Grade 6 kids I’d be visiting this afternoon.  I bet they like Timbits.  Twenty-seven children … twenty donut balls.  Oh, we’ll figure something out.

And we did.  Three kids were away.  A couple who were there didn’t want a donut.  The rest lined up in front of me and almost everyone thanked me for their little sphere of pleasure.  Two Timbits were left.  What if all three kids come back tomorrow?  Ahh, we’ll handle that too.

It was a fun day.  Here’s to many more.