If you don’t understand someone just take a look at their parents and it will all make sense. I’ve had the honor, and the heart racing zipper ride of coming to know my husband’s mom and step-dad. I understand why Brad can talk a blue streak and give ornery customers what-for. But just this last weekend the color and depths of Brad’s wonderful, quirky personality were illuminated after a simple, weeklong visit with Brad’s Dad. I knew Brad, but now I know Brad. The insatiable urge to hold the remote, the matter-of-fact tones, the passionate Italian-style complements, the elaborate stories, the strength, the drama, and the softy underneath it all. It all makes sense. My hubby is kind of like a mix between a ship captain and a roller skating waiter from the sixties—half commander, half sass and all heart.
To say the name Jesus
Loudly, in a crowd
Underneath massive praising oaks
And spunky, bold green grass
Under a starched-crisp blue sheet of sky
By a gentle swath of lake
Is incredible, and resonates
Again and again,
With the water ripples
Against the shore.
I imagine the angels, breast stroking through light
As they loop and swing effortlessly
From bough to bough
Of trembling tree.
Scarred and weathered faces
Are joining us in the shadows
With inquisitive eyes
Noticing this oddly refreshing gathering.
Life has me dog-tired too
—sometimes I am unrecognizable to myself—
But as I sing in the park I am a fancy-free child of God.
I imagine the good shepherd
Leaning on his staff with kind eyes
Ready to glean.
“We’re still hunter-gatherers, aren’t we?” she winked, as I stumbled on the bus with a backpack and a box full of meat.
Clad in a little blazer with puffed sleeves, a pleated skirt and rain shoes, she was the picture of cheer. She explained how she goes to locations all over Kelowna to gather her groceries and get bargains.
The raindrops were heavy and explosive and I was contemplating how I was going to walk home with a bike, a backpack and a box in the downpour when she sang, “I love taking the bus! We have a car but we rarely use it. Only if we need to.”
It was then that it hit me. It’s all about perspective. For weeks I have been moaning about how much smoother and creamier life would be with a car. Life gets so hard. I’m in a rut. Why me?
She twirled her umbrella in her hands. “ Look at the variety in those clouds. Aren’t they lovely?” And then I noticed they were wildly beautiful.
My husband and I are leaning through the switchbacks, as the forest grows cooler and denser. This trip our eyes are peeled for wildlife and hippies. We’ve plugged our backpacks full and geared up the romance. We’re driving in a punchy Subaru Forester from Budget, the destination: Nelson. It’s our one-year wedding anniversary and we have plans to visit the most Bohemian nooks and photo-worthy crannies of the little town.
There’re adventures in the alleys. Old doors, Broadway murals and brick walls lead us to beatnik galleries and hidden cafes. Today the rain slaps my umbrella as I take breezy steps in my bell-bottoms. I rifle through bright, crinkled up skirts and loosely gathered yoga shirts on racks by the store windows. We buy lattes at Oso Negro, a house converted into a sassy little coffee shop. Brad punctuates the day by taking brilliant photos of rusted cars; water drops; eroding architecture; and the falls just outside of the city.
We stay in a quaint, hundred-and-thirteen-year-old hotel with an elevator that lurches every time it stops, and a huge neon sign that marks up the sky in a classy way. Breakfast is chunks of potato and poached eggs in a blanket of cheese with a heavy smattering of hollandaise. We zig zag up the mountainside like Billy goats to see a view of the city. I relinquish my breath and my sandals to the ardor of it—shouldn’t have worn a dress on a grind like this. At the top we overhear a circle of locals talking about reincarnation and astral projection—only in this land of wanderers are such things commonplace.
Night two is spent at the White House Backpacker’s Hostel where Zaza in her scarves and legwarmers shows us the lay of the maze; pancake batter and coffee in the kitchen; a porch for lounging; a common room decked out in colorful paintings of moody tree limbs; and our own little pad done up in Bali wood prints. We meet Kendra, who is moving to Nelson from Whitehorse, and grew up in the South with a black maid when segregation was salvation to white folk. She is terrified of ticks, and loves taking abstract pictures of bits of things that she stares at for hours through her point and shoot. She says her children grew up in what felt like three seconds of time.
On the way home we rub our eyes and pinch our thighs to awaken from beautiful visions. Kootenay Lake stretches out before us like a majestic operatic note, snowy mountains, thick underbrush and blue sky quivering therein. Brad and I wind and lean and gaze and chat our way back to a more complicated and commonplace city.