Friday, September 22, 2017


Yes, when we travel, the sites and the experiences stay with us.  The truly transformational aspects of our journeys, though, grow out of the personal encounters with people, some planned, most coincidental and spontaneous.  It’s time to say thank you to the people whose openness to conversation brightened up our trip to Northern British Columbia, Haida Gwaii, and a few points south.

"I have some galoshes you can use for the trip," my daugher-in-law offers, the day before we leave.  Up the stairs she comes, with black and white polka dot galoshes with a saucy black bow.   A little youngish for this Memère, I think at the time, but why not? Their edge only enhanced their usefulness,  beginning in Prince Rupert, when the serious rain began.   I thought I could continue using the galoshes incidentally—night trips to the bathroom, hikes along damp trails. The day I stowed my runners and adopted the galoshes as my go-to footwear on Haida Gwaii, though, I turned a corner.  Not because everywhere I went, someone complimented me on the boots and I was able to acknowledge my daughter-in-law’s generosity (and her great fashion sense!).  At that moment, I embraced the essence of the rain forest I was visiting.  It’s as if I became one with what’s done there, what the climate obliges in outerwear included.  The galoshes have become the quintessential symbol of awareness by osmosis.  
Haida Carver Leo Gagnon

Leo Gagnon
In Old Masset, many Haida carvers work out of their homes.  They hang their shingle, and welcome visitors.  We happened upon Leo at work in his shop, and were delighted that he engaged with us on his career, his carving, his work with the next generation of Haida carvers.

Sarah, Jane, Marilyn
The server at the Island Sunrise Café in Masset Sunday morning indicated a half hour or so wait for a table for brunch.  Not problem, we had loads of time.  We could wait.   Books and devices in hand, we made ourselves comfortable on the bench in the entrance.  Just as we two were escorted to a table for four, two ladies in for brunch as well prepared to wait.  "You’re welcome to join us, if you like," we offered. 
"There are three of us," the woman we later came to know as Sarah said.  "Can we pull up a chair? We're actually three." 
"You bet."  
We exchanged stories and plans,  like old friends.  On our last day, at supper in Queen Charlotte Village, we waved at them through the restaurant window, and had a chance to trade more stories about our experiences.

Grant and Jane
In Spirit Square, a conversation that began over a car my husband noticed grew into a two hour discussion.  Again, fate intervened.  We saw them once more at supper on our last day.  That’s right—in the same restaurant as Sarah, Marilyn and Jane.  What are the odds?

Bunkhouse Campground Great Room
The owner of the Bunkhouse Campground in Queen Charlotte Village has invested a lot of time and ingenuity in replicating a backcountry experience.  The campground greatroom conjured up what my vision of a prospector’s cabin or a lumber camp might be.   Thanks to Sid, more discussion to churn the reflections.

We stopped at the Visitor Information  Centre and Museum in Port Clements to locate relatives of relatives that my husband wished to see.  Bridget, the receptionist, not only knew exactly who we wanted to see, but engaged in a delightful discussion that we will never forget.

Ted and Donna
Relatives of relatives in Port Clements, Ted and Donna made a leap of faith and decided to talk to people who knew people they knew.  What followed for us was a rich hour and a half  exchange.

George and Corinne
At Kleanza Creek Provincial Park, where we turned in to wait out the projected three hour highway closure, we met George and Corinne, who were there for the same reason.  With these seasoned travelers who were on a cross Canada journey, we compared travel experiences, made mental notes of tips they offered, and simply enjoyed their company.  This time, a drizzle turning into rain prompted us to trade addresses and say goodbye.

At her gallery in Old Masset, Sarah could have simply rung through my purchase with a smile and without comment.  She, too, engaged, and we are the richer for the time she gave us that day.

Jasper, Antonia, Oliver
At the park in Oliver, BC, we stopped for a rest before a visit with my cousin.  Next to our old van was its older blue and white cousin.   As I enjoyed the sunshine and the heat after almost two weeks of rain, one of the van occupants, a trio in their early twenties, I would say,  asked me what year our van was.  That initiated another exchange about travel with the entire trio.

Mea culpa, I didn’t get your name, although I know you’re originally from Onion Lake SK.    I did share my grapes and cherries, and I’m grateful that you stopped for a moment to talk.  Thank you for the smile and wave good-bye.   

Vic and Aruna
I hadn't seen my cousin and his wife,  owner of Gravelbourg vineyard in Oliver, BC,  for more than fifteen years.  He accompanied us to Church & State Wines, across the way, who transform his Gravelbourg chardonnay grapes into wine that flies off the shelf.
Sandra and Rick
My husband had never met his cousins, children of his mother’s brother.  That happens when life takes siblings on different paths in faraway places.  Still, Sandra and Rick welcomed us, shared stories and photos, accompanied us to dinner.  I felt my mother-in-law’s spirit at the table, as we chatted. 

I had last seen my cousin in 2010, at my father’s centenary celebration.  He had come all the way from Kelowna.  As we chatted over lunch, we recalled that celebration, as well as the bond that our fathers shared during their life and the stories of their wild youthful escapades.

People, then are the third element of the collage on the découpage that represents my experience in this most recent journey.  Thank you is all I can say to a host of special people for sharing of themselves in a variety of ways.  Through the gift of your time and your words, and probably without even being aware, you presented me with more pieces to my personal puzzle.

No comments:

Post a Comment