It is raining again in Corran. I took an hour and walked around the region to get some photos of the gloomy weather here today. I guess I should be happy it is not snow. The rain is expected to continue for a couple days before milder spring weather arrives. It will soon be time to begin my book tour, heading down to Toronto first before flying out to Vancouver.
Our little gatherings have come a long way in the past year and I plan on keeping them up through 2018. The last get together was on Monday the fifth and ten people made it out to visit. It is great to get together with friends and neighbours to talk about things. I believe this is a better way to communicate with each other instead of just sending out notices and Instant Messages (IM). The smallest gathering I held had about five people attend, the largest had over twenty stop by. I plan on holding another gathering on Tuesday, March 20th.
No winter lasts forever;
no spring skips its' turn.
Winter has left, hopefully for another year, from the Corran region. We have had a week of heavy rainfall and the lake level went up about 0.3 metres for the duration. The ice of the skate pond melted and broke up about ten days ago quickly ending the skating season just a day or two before the Gathering.
The rainfall has been great for growing and greening up the region, the trees are full and green while the dandelions and daffodils have taken over the landscape.
I have not seen my neighbour in over a week I think she must be away. I wonder if she knows that winter is gone from our islands in the bay. I need to start working on a new garden, the previous owners did not have one for some reason. I love growing my own vegetables, so much better than the canned food all winter.
“Sometimes you need to sit lonely on the floor in a quiet room in order to hear your own voice and not let it drown in the noise of others.”
― Charlotte Eriksso
It was a quiet week in Corran. I found a couple nights to be mild enough to take a walk around the island and take some photos. This is a photo of the aurora borealis that lit up the night sky above the region earlier this week.
The ice rink is still open down the hill from the Gathering Shelter. The Farmer's Almanac is calling for a mild spring for Corran so I will need to get in a few more skating nights before the ice begins to melt.
I have not seen my neighbour all week, I really should get over there and thank her for the treats back at Christmas but she never seems to be home. I walked by on Sunday night but all of the lights were off and it was only seven thirty, maybe she is away. With the lake solidly frozen you can come and go from anywhere on the island so she could have a parade come and go and I would not see it.
Sunday was the Black Sabbath Tribute Band performance put on by The Independents.ca to raise money for the Terry Fox Cancer Research Foundation. It was an awesome performance as usual. There were about fifteen to twenty people in attendance for the event plus the band. Toaster played Ozzy Osbourne, Sabrina as Tony Iommi and Kotu as Geezer Butler. The concert raised over MC$ 16,000 for cancer research.. At one point I said if other people donated to get it up over ten thousand Maples I would kick in another twenty-five hundred. They did so I did bringing my total donation to MC$ 5,000. Great lighting and special effects, smooth choreography and an uninterrupted stream. Roddie Macchi and many others showed up to cheer on the band.
Sadly because of my ongoing budget cuts in my RL world this will be the last fundraiser I am able to donate to. Podex is killing us Canadians with the unnecessary conversion rates (to US) and I can not afford to spend $1 for a lousy 78 Maples. I need to covent my remaining Maples for needs in the grid that might arise over the next year.
Did you read the blog we posted before this one called "Two Nights in Nowhere" you can read it by clicking on the title, the link will take you to the Corran Journal version of it.
And now, part two of Winter's week in Nowhere, Saskatchewan...
“Time, like an ever-rolling stream,
Bears all its sons away;
They fly forgotten, as a dream
Dies at the opening day.”
My week of activity in Saskatchewan seemed to go by so quickly. The meeting with the lawyers went okay suffice to say it felt like a waste of time and something that could have been handled through video conferencing and a few emails. It is hopefully done. The newspaper division of the Corran Journal has been sold and, from what I hear, will be broken up and merged with the buyers existing infrastructure. Whatever, I’m living comfortably off the sale and I have made some decent investments into my retirement plans.
I started to write entries through the week, but they were rather compact, so I decided today to merge them all into one entry.
My trip to Nowhere was relatively uneventful. It was great to visit with Alex, Barb and Chris again. It has been a year since I stopped by but not much has changed.
The weather was, for the most part, decent with only a couple hours here and there of blustery wind and wet snow.
On Tuesday morning I drove into the town, sorry the “city” of Humboldt, population just under six thousand residents, to pick up a few supplies I have forgotten to pack, toiletries and some snacks to munch on while watching Netflix in my room. I went for a late afternoon walk around Nowhere before dinner. I spent some money in the convenience store, cute girl named Hayley working there, but the prices were a bit high and the girl was too involved with her smartphone to really flirt with her.
The road-side stop is very isolated, with rolling hills on either side of the valley. If you slapped a glass dome over top of it, you could have a nice little snow globe. I will bet that on any given day the same four vehicles are parked in the lot in front of the cafe. It is a busy enough highway to keep them running but the day to day life of the area feels stuck in the eighties.
The ominous still of the night is broken only by ice cracking on the pond and the whooshing sound of slush mixed with the thump-thumping of tires of transport trucks zooming down the highway and through the tunnels.
I spent my down-time in my room watching the series ‘Stranger Things’ on Netflix. I’m not really into the show that much but it is neat to see things as they were back in the eighties. Winona Rider looks old even though her character is grown up. She has done a few good movies and a few crappy ones over the years.
Wednesday morning, I slept in but when I got up I grabbed lunch to go from the Prairie Moon café and headed into Humboldt to the Reid Thompson Public Library to do some research. The library is well lit but shockingly small compared to the insurance office building across the street. There is a nice park nearby, but the cold weather kept me indoors for most of the time I was there.
I got this off little tidbit of info from a pamphlet in the library stating that Humboldt was the hub of communication between Prime Minister John A. Macdonald and his forces in the west. It was a base for scouting operations and the last secure post of contact by telegraph with the east in the late 1800s.
I filled up the rental gas tank in Humboldt for $1.049 per litre at Petro, a lot cheaper than the $1.149 they wanted in Prairie Moon, sorry Alex.
It was snowing when I returned to Nowhere, but it stopped falling after dinner, so I went for another short walk down the highway and through one of the tunnels. It was quiet on the road, but I kept over as close to the wall as possible. The other side of the tunnel was nothing more than kilometres of desolate open farm fields dotted with a scarce couple century old farm houses and barns. I could hear a lot of coyotes howling in the distance, so I tried to stay as close to the lights of highway tunnel as possible.
Thursday was another trip into town after an eat in lunch at the café. Chris really knows how to make a delicious Black Bean burger with cheese and crispy sweet potato fries. There was an accident, in Humboldt, at the main intersection of 5 and 20, a couple people were taken away in ambulances. It looked like a blue minivan went through the intersection and got t-boned by a furniture delivery truck. The roads were mucky at the time, so I will bet the conditions were a factor and with it being a main intersection traffic was a mess.
The one thing I have noticed about Saskatchewan is that if you are not in one of the real cities all the buildings throughout the province are low profile. You do not see a lot of tall buildings in town, taller than the town clock tower or water tower except maybe a hotel or something. The urban landscapes are as flat as the rural ones. I wonder if you could stand in Manitoba and look all the way to the west and see Alberta, looking right over Saskatchewan, just kidding.
I got back just in time for the dinner special, a large piece of meat lasagna with green beans and mashed potatoes on the side with a coffee. My waitresses name was Winona, same as Winona Rider but far more attractive, apparently she was new at the cafe hired just last week. I retired to my room after dinner to catch up on editing a couple manuscripts that have been given to me for review.
On Friday morning I was up right after dawn and packed for the three hour drive to Regina International. I wonder why their airport does not have a long fancy name like Winnipeg does – the "Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport". The name is so long they had to build a new airport building just so they could hang up the sign for it.
The temperature in Nowhere and Regina was chilly but still a lot warmer than Corran, Ontario has been. I almost did not get to leave because the rental car would not start. I think there might be something wrong with the battery, but I had in plugged in, so it was not my fault. I reported it when I returned it to the agency near the Regina airport. I did not think they were going to believe me but then one of the attendants tried to start the car in their lot and it had trouble starting up again. I did not get a chance to fuel it up before returning it, but they comped me the fuel I had used driving from Nowhere to Regina for my trouble.
I flew back to Pearson International on early Friday afternoon and luckily caught the bus up to Coldwater and a taxi to Midland that evening. I spent the night in Midland and chartered a flight to Corran on Saturday morning. It was perfect timing too as a nasty freezing rain storm crashed into the region on Saturday night. The storm passed on Sunday and I got outside to clean the ice off things and check for damage. A couple of broken branches and a window shattered in the shed but nothing serious.
The weather has finally returned to the seasonal norms in Corran with daytime temps around minus five Celsius. I am planning on staying around home for the next couple weeks. I got word from my cousin Tarah that Bear arrived safely on Vancouver Island on Friday morning. She told me that the temps have been just around freezing there. We have decided that Bear will live with her until spring when I am back out there for a book show in April.
Unbeknownst to Winter his only neighbour Anna was in Nowhere at the same time he was. You can read her blog of her visit at this link "Return to Solitude" by Anna Wright.
This week I have a special presentation for you. I am writing an RP with Anna Wright of Prairie Moon. Winter is returning from his meeting in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and has made time to visit old friends in Nowhere, Saskatchewan. The RP on here and the Prairie Moon blog will include his visit but each version is from a different perspective so I recommend you read both. The link to Prairie Moon: Nowhere is located on the right of this page. Enjoy! :)
Monday, January 8, 2017
Winter Silversmith completed his meeting in Saskatoon, Sask. He rented a sporty black crossover and drove over to Nowhere, Sask. He arrived at 4:55pm just before sunset.
As Winter walked towards the Prairie Moon Café a trucker flashed an I know I'm charming grin at a woman walking by and tried to engage in conversation with her.
“Hello Miss. I've got a canine friend back home too. Is he friendly?”
He extended the charming smile to the Winter and then it faltered as his attempt with the woman simply tanked.
The café was full of locals from the area and the quaint rural lives of Nowhere, Saskatchewan blossomed like colourful fauna in each corner and at each table. There was a table of women friends on one side, a farmer couple and their friend adjacent, a man with a ponytail sitting at the counter being served and a cook at the grill being highly efficient. The din of conversation cut with the scent of coffee and fried food in the retro rustic décor created that frozen in time slice of roadside Canadiana culture that could only be lived through it’s consumption on an interpersonal plane.
Barb Melnyk looked down at her crutches and sighed. She turned her head to see who Marcie Jones was looking and then grinned broadly “Well hey stranger! Been awhile… Alex is waiting tables. Give him a real complicated order Winter!”
Barb laughed and then answered the question from the conversation she was in as he walked in “This was my rocky start to 2018. All it takes it one patch of ice, right? Thank goodness, we found another waitress for awhile. Hi June. Do you have pictures from the party on there?”
June Wilson beamed at the thought of sharing her photos and after Barb got seated and arranged her crutches the three of them got drawn into her finger swiping and talking non-stop.
Alex Melnyk reached to set the plate in front of Randall “You sold me the fish, but you order the poutine. Should I be worried old friend?” He looked up and noticed Winter and his face broke into a wider grin “And speaking of old friends! Hello there Winter! Happy New Year!”
Randall Bird laughed and then raised his coffee cup slightly at the stranger “Hi. No, I just eat a lot of my own catch. Thanks Alex.” He made a point of looking at the man Alex called Winter again with emphasis “I highly recommend the trout!”
The sizzle of the grill didn’t quite cover Chris Wilson’s chuckle at the whole exchange.
“Hello Alex, and a Happy New Year to you.” Winter smiled at the stranger seated at the counter and then looked back at Alex “the poutine sounds delicious” he said with a sly smile “and a coffee too please”. Winter sat down on a stool near the end of the counter and turned slightly to glance around the room.
“Nice wallpaper, I see a few things have changed here over the past year”. Winter looked toward the window to see the slow flurries curling and dancing behind the glass. “It is getting blustery out there, I didn’t know if I would make it down here this evening or not”. Winter turned back to the counter as Alex sets a bowl of steaming hot poutine down.
“Coffee will take a minute, just brewing a fresh pot” Alex said as he glanced up at the wall. “Yes, new wallpaper, do you like the ducks, Barb picked it out” nodding across the room toward his wife.
“They’re Canada geese not ducks, you know that Alex” Barb called back in return catching the last part of the conversation.
“Ducks, geese, all dinner in my book” Alex turned to check on the coffee and saw Chris nodding in agreement.
Barb rolled her eyes at the foul statements and turned back to Marcie and June. Marcie was detailing the long saga of caring for her aging poodle and June was offering helpful suggestions.
“Maybe if you put the pill in a meatball?”
Barb nodded along.
The next table over were in a clearly amused conversation with the three of them nearly tipping over with laughter.
At that time a white Subaru rental pulled up in front of the store side and Anna Wright stretched her neck side to side before getting out and pulling a backpack from the back seat. She saw Barb through the window and waved with a big smile.
Alex noticed Anna but just nodded and stayed focused on Winter and Randall “Wacky weather everywhere eh?”
“Sure is” Winter replied, “back home in Ontario we’ve been getting nothing but snow and cold for weeks now, nothing like last year when it was so mild”.
The door opened, and an icy breeze slid through as Anna made her way to Barb. She smiled at Alex and glanced at who was at the counter. Two men, but one is familiar in an uncanny way. She frowned slightly as she moved to her cousin and plunked down in the seat beside her “Hey you!”
Barb shifted a crutch and leaned over giving Anna a half hug “I’m so glad you’re here! How was the drive? You remember June and Marcie?”
Anna hugged back and then looked a bit vague and distracted “Maybe.... hello anyway!” She greeted politely.
The ladies across returned the greeting and then returned to the dog conversation.
Anna took the opportunity to discreetly whisper to Barb “The guy at the counter... the tall one. Do you know his name?”
Barb darted a way too obvious glance at the counter and whispered back “He’s Winter... old friend of Sasha’s.” Then she smirked “Why, do you think he’s cute?”
Anna cringed at the obvious glance and then swatted Barb for her insinuation. “Shut up... I think....” She broke off awkwardly and dared not look back directly. She’d seen Winter. She’d seen him walk by a fair few times now, completely avoided meeting him and left cookies at his door. Six degrees of separation failed again. This man was her neighbour. She quietly explained this to Barb and Barb looked way too amused by it.
Anna tried to ignore Barb’s teasing and strained to listen in on the conversation at the counter, pondering whether to go introduce herself. Alex was clearing his plate and offering Winter room one to rent and going to grab the key from the wall. Between the dog conversation at her table and the other man at the counter suddenly bantering with the cook she could barely catch the words between Winter and Alex, but before she had decided whether to talk to Winter, Alex was waving at him as he walked towards the door and outside.
Anna sighed. She could try again tomorrow as he appeared to be staying the night. Barb elbowed her and chuckled. She’d come all this way to meet the person who lived next door. Life was truly odd sometimes.
Winter clutched the key for room one in his hand and pulled up his collar as he stepped into the darkness. The sun had set behind the hills and the gusting wind blew tiny flakes of snow against his face that stung like needles against his skin. He grabbed his suitcase and laptop bag from the back seat of his rental and hurried out of the wintry blast and into his warm motel room.
Winter stepped into the room and hesitated, glancing around before closing the door behind him and flopping down on the bed. He rolled over, sat up against the pillows and pulled his laptop out of the black leather case.
He opened the laptop up to his journal editing page and started typing.
I have arrived in Nowhere, Saskatchewan after driving here from my meeting in Saskatoon. I had a meeting there this morning with lawyers over the sale of my newspaper publishing business last year. They wanted to iron out a few of the final details on the settlement.
The Prairie Moon has not changed much since the last time I was here a year ago. I first stayed here to write a murder mystery novel back in the nineties. Sasha was the owner and we got along great at least so long as there was a spare bottle of vodka in my suitcase. He was quite the drinker. He made for a great character in my book. Too bad the book bombed. Sasha died a few years back and his family took over.
I did not mention that I had to take a car down to Pearson to catch my flight to Saskatoon, apparently there are no direct flights from Barrie. The plane, WestJet, was supposed to depart early on Friday evening.
It is never a dull moment when you go to the airport and you find out your flight is delayed because of "unforeseen circumstances" which translated into "two planes colliding". Fortunately no one was seriously hurt. It makes you want to re-think your travel plans and sitting for two hours delay does not help. My flight finally took off for Saskatoon at almost ten o'clock and we landed in the city just about two thirty Eastern time. It is two hours behind so I had to adjust my watch to twelve-thirty which made the day even longer.
The meeting went okay on Monday morning. I had a couple issues to settle over the sale of the newspaper division of Corran Journal. I sold it to a larger company who wants to merge it into their existing operations. Their lawyers in Saskatoon wanted to clarify a few more points on my settlement. Anything that keeps in living in the black for the rest of my avatar days is fine with me.
I have a few things to get done here in Saskatoon then its off to Nowhere to visit with friends before my flight back to Toronto on the twelfth.
Another frosty day in Barrie as temperatures hover around minus twenty-one Celsius. I have decided to catch a flight tonight for Saskatoon. I checked the forecast and it is a lot warmer there around minus eight today. Who would have thought that Saskatchewan would be warmer than Central Ontario. I hope to rent a car and drive to Nowhere around the ninth.
It is another cold day in Barrie as I spend every day indoors waiting for my flight out west to Saskatoon at the end of this week. I have divided my time between watching movies in the hotel room to shopping at the malls in the area.
70% chance of rain
70% chance of rain
Tales from Bear Island is written by Winter's neighbour on Corran, GCG
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