On the Friday of Thanksgiving weekend I stayed in my classroom a little later than usual so that I could finish up some marking. It was a ground floor room, with large windows the full length of the outside wall and individual desks in rows facing the front. I was gradually working my way through a pile of student assignments with a cup of lukewarm coffee at my elbow; I had lost track of time, and when Will slipped into the room I looked up from my work and was surprised to discover from the clock on the wall that it was after five-thirty. Will perched on a student desk in front of me; “You’re working late tonight”, he said.
“I didn’t realize what time it was; I’m nearly finished”.
“I’m just about to leave, so you’re the last one here; do you want to lock up when you go?”
He put his hands in his pockets. “Listen, are you doing anything special this weekend?”
“You’re not going out for Thanksgiving supper with friends or anything like that?”
I shook my head; “This whole Thanksgiving thing is new to me”.
“No Thanksgiving in the old country?”
“Harvest festivals in churches, but not family gatherings or turkey dinners”.
“Would you like to come over to our place Sunday night to experience your first Thanksgiving dinner?”
“Will, you and Sally have been really kind to me, but please don’t feel you have to invite me over again”.
“We don’t feel that; we enjoy your company, and Sally told me this morning to be sure to ask you. Of course”, he continued with a smile, “it might be a little overwhelming for you”.
“How do you mean?”
“Well, it’ll be a little bigger than usual. More people, I mean”.
He frowned thoughtfully, obviously going over the guest list in his head. “Well, let’s see: Sally and me, and Joe and Ellie, and Kelly came home for the weekend from Jasper today, and Krista will be coming from Edmonton tomorrow. Then I think Sally’s brother David and his wife Anna are coming – they don’t have any kids of their own to cook for – and Sally’s parents, and my mother…”He smiled and nodded at me; “I think that’s everyone. How many is that? Eleven? Twelve?”
I laughed; “I hope you’ve got a stretchable dining table!”
“We’ll be fine; would you like to come?”
“I don’t want to intrude on your family gathering”.
“Don’t be silly; we’d love to have you over. And you’d finally get to meet Joe, too”.
“Well, that would be good; it seems a bit weird that I still haven’t run into him”.
“He’s been going down to the city a lot to spend time with Ellie, and he has to be on call some weekends too”.
“So we’ll expect you, then? We’ll eat at six, but come a little earlier – about four-thirty or so”.
“All right –thank you very much. Is there anything I can bring?”
“No – just bring yourself”. He glanced at his watch; “Well, I should be heading for home. See you Sunday, then”.
“Right; thanks, Will”.
“No problem. Don’t forget to lock up when you leave”.
There was a light rain falling late Sunday afternoon as I parked my car on the side of the road in front of Will and Sally’s house; there were already three vehicles in the driveway, two of them half-ton trucks. The living room curtains were open, and I could see Will standing behind the window; he saw me walking up the driveway and greeted me with a cheery wave. I followed the cracked stone pathway around the side of the house into the back yard; the back door opened as I approached, but to my surprise it was not Will standing there, but a young man of about my own age, with blond hair and a crooked nose, dressed comfortably in jeans and a faded green sweatshirt. I recognized him immediately from the family photographs on Will and Sally’s living room wall.
“You must be Tom”, he said in a quiet voice; “I’m Joe”.
“I’ve heard a lot about you”, I replied as we shook hands; “It’s good to finally meet you”.
“You too; come on in”.
I followed him into the house, kicking off my shoes in the stairwell and climbing the three steps into the kitchen. I could smell the turkey cooking in the oven, and as I entered the room Sally turned from the sink, wiped her hand on a towel and said, “Come on in, Tom; you’ve already met my son Joe?”
“He just introduced himself”.
She poured coffee from the carafe into a glass mug and handed it to me with a smile; “There you go”.
Will came wandering into the kitchen area. “Come on through, Tom”, he said; “I’ll introduce you to the others. Not everyone’s here yet”.
I followed him into the dining area, where he introduced me to his mother and Sally’s parents, who were sitting at the table drinking coffee together. Will’s mother, Erika Reimer, was lean and wiry like her son Hugo, and her eyes twinkled as she smiled and shook hands with me. Will had told me that she was eighty-two, but she looked at least ten years younger, and in her jeans and check shirt she was as far removed as possible from my image of the traditional Mennonite grandmother. When she spoke to me, I immediately recognized a slight German accent in her voice. “How long have you been in Canada?”she asked.
“About ten weeks”.
“I’ve got a few years on you, then; I’ve been here since 1924. Is your principal looking after you well enough?”
“He’s been very helpful, actually”.
“That’s the way it should be. Are you a good cook?”
I shrugged; “I don’t mind my own cooking, but I wouldn’t claim to be a gourmet chef”.
“Well, if you ever feel like a good home-cooked dinner, you come over to my place, okay?”
Will put his hand on my shoulder. “She means it, and she’s a superb cook. Come on down and meet the youngsters, Tom”.
I followed him down a couple of steps into the sunken living room; it had a big picture window on one side, and was furnished with a couple of large chesterfields, some easy chairs, and a coffee table in the centre. There was a large TV on a stand in one corner, and on the inside wall there were framed photographs of Will and Sally and various other family members. Two young women were sitting in one corner of the room, talking to each other; Will introduced them to me as “My daughter Krista, and my future daughter-in-law Ellie”. Krista, who had long blonde hair and a mischievous grin, shook my hand and said, “So you’re the famous Tom Masefield”.
“I’m Tom Masefield, but I didn’t know I was famous”.
“Well, you know what my dad’s like!”
“Yes, I think I do!”
Joe had followed us into the living room. “My other sister Kelly’s just having a shower”, he explained; “She was out walking this afternoon and she wanted to get cleaned up before supper”.
“How long is she here for?”
“A few days, actually”, said Will as he sat down in one of the easy chairs. “She arrived on Friday and she’s not going back until Wednesday”.
“That’s a nice break”.
“Yeah, she set it up somehow by combining stat holidays and days off. Have a seat, Tom”.
“Thanks”. I sat down on one of the chesterfields beside Ellie; she had dark hair pulled back into a thick braid, and she was dressed comfortably in jeans and tee-shirt. “I hear you’re a guitarist”, she said with a smile.
“Ellie plays the fiddle”, said Joe, glancing at her affectionately.
“I think I heard that”, I replied, turning to her; “What sort of music do you like to play?”
“Bluegrass and old time country music, actually; how about you?”
“Traditional folk songs”.
“Oh yeah? We probably have a few songs in common”.
“You think? I haven’t come across anyone around here yet who knows many of my songs”.
“Some of the old bluegrass tunes go back to the old country, although they’ve probably changed quite a lot in transit”.
“We’ll have to get together and play a few tunes. You’re still living in Saskatoon, right?”
“Yes, but I may be getting a job here at the dental clinic in the New Year, so if things work out, I’ll be moving up”.
I glanced at Joe; “I don’t remember whether you two have set a date yet”.
“We have”, Ellie replied with a shy smile; “May 21st”.
Krista grinned at me again; “That’s quite the accent”, she said. “We’re not used to hearing classy English accents around here”.
“I’ve noticed there aren’t too many of us”.
“Well, there is old Joanna Robinson; have you met her yet?”
“No; who is she?”
“She’s a relative of ours by marriage; she’s lived around here for a long time. I think she came over in the 1930s, but she still has a really strong English accent; she sounds like she just got here yesterday”.
Will nodded. “Sally’s sister Rachel is married to Joanna’s son Mike”, he explained to me.
“So Joanna would be Don Robinson’s grandmother, then?”
I heard the sound of a door opening in the hallway, and a moment later a young woman who was obviously Krista’s older sister appeared in the entrance to the living room. As I got to my feet she said, “No, don’t bother to get up; I’m Kelly”.
We shook hands formally; “Tom Masefield”, I replied.
“Masefield? Isn’t there a poet…?”
“Is he the guy who wrote ‘I must go down to the sea again…’?”
“‘…to the lonely sea and the sky’ ”.
“Are you related to him?”
“Not that I know of, but it’s a long time since anyone’s asked me that!”
“Well, I like his poems”.
She was seriously lovely, with blue-grey eyes and long blond hair still wet from the shower, dressed in faded jeans and a simple white sweater. She was short, like her father, but she had the sort of face and figure that no man ignores easily, and I found it hard to take my eyes off her as she sat down on the floor opposite me with her back against the other chesterfield. Her brother was sitting behind her; she looked up at him with a grin and said, “Get me some coffee, will you, Joe?”
“Right away!”he replied with a grin, getting to his feet; “Would you like some caviar too?”
Everyone laughed, and then as Joe disappeared around the corner into the kitchen Kelly smiled at me and said, “Dad’s been telling us all about you. Oxford University; that’s kind of classy for a place like Meadowvale”.
I shrugged; “I was born there, so I didn’t think about it very much”.
“It must be an amazing place – all those old buildings and history. Was it a tough university to get into?”
“I suppose so. I’d always hoped to be able to study there, so I was lucky”.
“I’m sure luck had nothing to do with it”, she replied as her brother came back into the living room, carrying a cup of coffee for her; “You must have been a good student”.
I shrugged my shoulders again, feeling a little embarrassed; “I suppose so”.
She took the mug from Joe’s outstretched hand with a smile, and moved over a little to make room for him to sit down on the chesterfield behind her. “Does your family still live there?”
“My parents live in a village about ten miles south of Oxford”.
“Do you have brothers and sisters?”
“One brother in university, and a little sister who still lives at home with my parents; she’s twelve”.
“What made you decide to move to Canada?”
“I met someone from Canada in my college; he told me about it, and it sounded interesting. And with the economic situation in England right now, jobs here were a lot easier to come by”.
“I suppose, but I still find it hard to understand why someone would move from an incredible place like that to come to little old Meadowvale, Saskatchewan”. She smiled and glanced around at her family; “Well, we like it here, of course, but it isn’t normally considered one of the most popular destinations for immigrants from Oxford!”
“Kelly, give the man a break!”Joe exclaimed; “He’s only just met you, and you’re already questioning him like it was some sort of inquisition in here!”
She smiled apologetically at me. “You’ll have to forgive me; I tend to be a little direct”.
“Just a little”, Joe added with a mocking grin.
Everyone laughed, and Kelly turned and took a playful swipe at her brother. He dodged her blow and caught her wrist with his hand. “Now don’t try this again; you know you’ve never won”.
“Children, children”, Will said reproachfully; “Not in front of the company, please!”
“And not with a cup of coffee in your hand, either”, Joe added, wagging his finger at Kelly. “You’ll spill it on the rug, you know!”
Kelly glanced at me; “Is your brother as annoying as mine?”
“Well, I’m the oldest, so he probably thinks I’m the annoying one”.
“Is he studying at Oxford too?”
“I’m afraid so; he’s at Balliol though. I went to Lincoln; I don’t know if you know anything about the Oxford colleges?”
“Not really; they all sound kind of magical to me”.
I shrugged; “They have their magic, I suppose. When we lived there, we sort of took them for granted”.
Krista grinned at her sister; “Kind of like the way you take the mountains for granted”.
Kelly shook her head; “No – I really don’t”.
“Well, you don’t exactly go crazy over them the way you used to”.
Kelly shrugged; “I suppose not, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love them just as much”.
Krista smiled at me. “I get to see Kelly’s mountains from time to time; I’m studying in Edmonton at the U of A”.
“Wildlife biology, right?”
“Yeah; I’m working on my masters’ thesis”.
“What’s it about?”
“Caribou. There are four small herds of woodland caribou in Jasper National Park; there have been warnings for a couple of years now that the populations are in danger, so I’m doing a study to investigate whether or not that’s true”.
“What do you think?”
She smiled sheepishly; “Are you asking Krista the scientist or Krista the lover of wild animals?”
“Does it make a difference?”
Joe laughed; “Krista the scientist will tell you that she doesn’t have enough evidence yet to decide one way or the other. Krista the lover of wild animals will tell you that introducing human beings onto the earth was one of God’s more questionable decisions, and that whenever humans and wild animals come into contact, wild animals suffer for it”.
“Which is usually true”, she replied defiantly.
“Do you know why the populations are at risk?” I asked.
She shook her head; “I’ve got hunches, but at the moment that’s all they are”.
“So you’re not just writing a thesis for its own sake, then?”
“What would be the point?”
“Some would say, to get a master’s degree”.
“I suppose. But if I can make a difference while I’m doing it…”
Kelly gave me a grin; “As you can see, we’re a family of idealists”, she said.
“I’m definitely starting to get that impression”.
Sally called us to the supper table around six; by then her brother David and his wife Anna had arrived, and as I had not met them before I had to answer the same questions about how long I had been in Canada and where I had lived in England. I found myself sitting between Joe and Kelly, and when we had all taken our places Will, who had an enormous turkey on a platter in front of him, asked us to join hands. “Shall we sing something, since we’re all here?”
“How about ‘We thank thee Lord, for this our food?’”Sally suggested.
“Wonderful”. He glanced at me; “We’ll sing it through a couple of times, Tom, and you’ll soon catch on”.
They started to sing, and I suddenly realized that this was not your average family singalong, with half the members barely able to hold a tune; these people sang in four-part harmony, and they were obviously well-practiced:
“We thank thee, Lord, for this our food;
God is love, God is love.
But most of all for Jesus’light;
God is love, God is love.
These mercies bless, and grant that we
may live in peace and reign with thee.
May live in peace and reign with thee;
God is love, God is love”.
The tune was a simple one, and the second time around I was already humming along to it, following Joe as he sang the tenor part. When the song ended Will smiled; “Amen”, he said, picking up a carving knife. “Who wants some turkey?”
“That was beautiful”, I said as he began to slice into the bird. “Is that a sort of family tradition?”
“It’s a Mennonite grace”, Sally explained.
Sitting at my right, Kelly gave me a playful grin; “I assume you’ve heard that we’re a hot-bed of religious fanatics in black clothes who drive horses and buggies?”
“So I’ve been told, although I haven’t seen the horses and buggies yet”.
They laughed, and Will’s mother said, “Hey, it’s not so very long ago that we used to get around all winter with horse and cutter”.
“I remember those days, all right”, said Will, “and going out to milk the cows at forty below in the winter, and cutting wood”. He winked at me; “It was a tough life”.
“Oh yeah”, said Kelly, “walking for miles every day to a one-room schoolhouse”.
“Uphill, both ways”, Joe added with a grin.
“You know very well that I didn’t walk”, Will replied; “I rode a horse”.
“I was up there”, I said, “but I didn’t see any hills”.
“Just the banks of the creek”, said Kelly.
“Have you been up to Spruce Creek?”Will’s mother asked me.
“A couple of weeks ago; we went to help Hugo with the harvesting”.
“That was where we settled when we first came from Russia; that was our homestead”.
“I remember Hugo telling me that”. I looked around the table; “Well, since I have a whole family of Mennonites here tonight, there’s a question I’ve been meaning to ask ever since Will told me about the history of this town”.
“What’s that?” said Will.
“What brought the Mennonites here in the first place? I know they came from Russia, but why did they come here?”
Will turned to his mother; “You want to tell him the story?”
“Sure”. She smiled at me; “Yes, we came from Russia, after the First World War. It was a hard time for our people. The Bolsheviks didn’t like Mennonites, or Christians of any kind for that matter, and they persecuted us. Thousands of people disappeared. Anyone who could get out, got out. My husband and I were lucky; we had relatives in Canada, so we came over here in 1924. But we didn’t go to Waterloo where most of our relatives lived, because the government was giving land away for free out here, so we came to Saskatchewan and homesteaded. All you had to do was settle on the land, clear a few acres and plant a crop, and within a couple of years they gave you the title to it”.
“Was there anyone living here back then?”
“My cousin Hermann Paetkau was here two years before us. He was the one who sent us word about this place; he was already homesteading when we got here. And there were some English and French people, too; they’d been here for about ten years. But they settled around Meadowvale, and we stayed in Spruce Creek. We didn’t speak any English at first, but my husband and I made sure to learn”.
“What language did you speak?”
“Low German for every day, and High German in church on Sundays”.
“Right – Will told me the Mennonites originally came from Germany and the Netherlands. That’s quite something, though, to keep a language alive in a foreign country like that”.
“Well, we wanted to keep our faith. We lived simple and peaceful lives, far away from the world, speaking our own language and following our own customs. That’s what most Mennonites did in those days”.
“What about you, Tom?” Joe asked quietly; “Were you raised in any sort of religious faith?”
I shook my head; “Not really; my dad’s a strong atheist, and we were never encouraged to go to church. My best friend’s a Christian, though, and he and I have talked about it from time to time. But I don’t really know much about Mennonites, except the whole horse and buggy and black clothes image Kelly was talking about, and since I’ve met your mum and dad, I’ve realized that may not be an accurate stereotype”.
“Different groups of Mennonites have taken different approaches”, said Sally; “Our group doesn’t put such a strong emphasis on outward signs like clothing and language”.
“You guys are definitely going to scare Tom off”, Kelly said with a grin; “All this stuff about Mennonite culture and history!”
“Hey, I’m the one that asked the question”,I replied, smiling gratefully at Will as he passed me a plate of turkey. “It’s true that my dad’s an atheist, but I don’t necessarily share his views on that particular subject. My dad and I disagree about a lot of things, actually”.
Joe grinned at Will. “Fathers and sons!”
“Yeah; you send them to university, and they grow up to stick their hands up the rear ends of cows”.
Will’s mother laughed; “I seem to remember you doing your fair share of that when you were younger, Will Reimer!”
“Yes, but Joe does it by choice!” said Kelly, smiling playfully at her brother.
“Some people like math, some people like cows”, he replied.
“This is a fine conversation to be having with the turkey!”Sally exclaimed.
“Sorry, Mom”, Joe replied, “although Dad was the one who started it!”
“I haven’t seen a lot of cows around here”, I said to him; “Are there many?”
“There are quite a few actually; we do a lot of work with cows and horses, but we have plenty of small animal work, too”.
“Are you busy?”
“Oh yeah; I could easily work seven days a week if I wanted to. There’s a lot of travelling involved, of course, because, funnily enough, most people would rather not load their cows into trailers and bring them in to the vet’s office – at least, not if they can help it!”
I laughed; “I never thought about that”.
Supper was huge; the main course was big enough, and everyone had second helpings, but then after a break of about half an hour Sally brought out pies: pumpkin, apple, and Saskatoon berry. “Anyone ready for some dessert?”
“Oh, I couldn’t possibly!”her brother David replied with a grin, holding his stomach.
“But you will!”his wife said, smiling at him affectionately.
“Who made all these pies?”I asked.
“Mom and I made most of them”, Sally replied, “and then Kelly brought a couple with her from Jasper”.
Fresh coffee and tea were served, the pies were carved up and shared, and the conversation continued at the table until after nine o’clock. I was content to sit on the edge of the family circle and listen, enjoying the sense of warmth, and the knowledge that they were entirely happy to have me there.
Eventually Sally and her mother got up and cleared the table; the older folks moved into the living room, but the younger Reimers stayed at the dining table. “Do you play Scrabble?”Kelly asked me.
“I do, actually”.
“Excellent. Are you ready to be massacred, Joey?”
“Comingright up”. Joe bent over beside a cupboard, opened a drawer and took out a Scrabble set.
“Is this another family tradition?”I asked.
“This is serious business”, Krista replied with a grin.
“Too serious for me”, Ellie added apologetically; “I let them persuade me to play once, a couple of years ago, and they totally wiped me out, so I’m really glad you like Scrabble, Tom!”
“Clear the decks”, Joe said, taking the Scrabble board out of the box; “This is my year; I can feel it coming”.
Will was coming around the corner with an empty coffee cup in his hand; “Let not him that girds on his armour boast himself as he that puts it off”, he said.
“What the heck is that, Dad?”Kelly asked.
“A quote from the Bible, of course! Don’t let me interrupt the slaughter, though; I’m just on my way through to fill up my coffee cup”.
The three Reimer siblings were definitely serious Scrabble players, and they were good at it, too; they didn’t use any words that I didn’t know, but they certainly used words I’d never seen in a Scrabble game before. It quickly became obvious that the real competition was between Joe and Kelly; Krista and I held our own, but we were not up to their level. The score was close right to the end, but eventually, after about forty minutes of intense play, Joe won by using all the remaining letters in his hand to form the word ‘dyslexic’ and go out.
“Unbelievable!”Kelly snorted; “How long have you had the ‘x’and the ‘y’?”
“About half the game; I had a hunch they might come in useful”.
“How about a rematch?”
Joe grinned at her; “Not competitive, now, are we?”
“Me? Surely not!”
He laughed. “Last time we played we only had one game, and you totally annihilated me, so tonight I think I’m just going to cut my losses and savour my brilliant victory!”
Joe and Krista got up and went into the living room to join the others; I was just beginning to think that I should be on my way as well when Kelly gave me a smile and asked, “Are you enjoying yourself?”
“I really am. Your mum and dad have told me a lot about you all, so it’s really good to finally meet you”.
“Dad’s mentioned a few things about you, too”.
“You keep in touch, then?”
“We do. You’ve probably noticed already that my dad’s kind of gregarious, and Mom and I are pretty close, too”.
“I can see that”. I shifted a little in my chair. “Tell me about Jasper”.
She smiled, and I saw a faraway look in her eyes. “It’s a wonderful place; it’s in a pass through the mountains, where the Athabasca and Miette rivers meet. When I stand on the balcony of my apartment in town, I can see mountains wherever I look. There are beautiful green lakes, and deep gorges and waterfalls, and lots of different hiking trails. It’s a great place to see wildlife, too – caribou, moose, bears, elk, wolves…”.
“Are any of those animals dangerous?”
“Bears are dangerous, so when you’re hiking you have to keep a sharp lookout for them. And if you go far enough off the beaten track there’s a chance you might see a cougar, but I never have. Moose are usually okay as long as you keep your distance and don’t startle them. I’ve never run into a moose on a hiking trail, although I have seen them on the sides of a lake when I’ve been canoeing. It’s a great place for canoeing, and trail riding, and skiing as well. Do you ski?”
“No – I’ve had the opportunity a couple of times, but I’ve never been brave enough to try it”.
“I was a cross country skier before I moved there, but now I’ve started downhill skiing as well”.
“I like walking a lot; we had great footpaths back home, but there doesn’t seem to be anything like that here”.
“No – Saskatchewan’s pretty much a car and truck culture. I like walking and hiking, but I’m in a minority. Are you a hiker?”
“I suppose so; I’m not really sure where exactly walking turns to hiking. When we were teenagers, my best friend Owen and I would often spend the whole of Saturday walking out in the country, and we kept that up when we were in university. Sometimes we went further afield; Owen’s family used to go camping in the Lake District – that’s a mountainous area in northwest England – and I often went with them. The views there are pretty spectacular, although probably not by your standards”.
“Show me some pictures some time”.
“Alright, but fair’s fair – I’d like to see some of yours, too”.
“Next time I come home I’ll bring some. But now it’s your turn; tell me all about Oxford”.
“What do you already know about it?”
“Well, I’ve read some of Colin Dexter’s novels, and a little C.S. Lewis, and Brideshead Revisited of course. It’s quite old, isn’t it?”
“The college I went to was founded in 1427”.
She grinned; “Right – pretty old, then!”
“There are some colleges that go back to the 1300s; one of the differences between Oxford and a lot of other university towns is that the individual colleges are older than the university. Tutors and lecturers are attached to the colleges, but the university oversees the whole thing and sets the exams and runs the science labs and all that. Not that I know a lot about science labs; my degree’s in English Literature”.
“You didn’t do a teaching degree?”
“I did a BA in English and a postgraduate certificate in education”.
“Right. And Dad said you were also playing folk music in a band”.
“Yes; my friend Owen and I had been playing guitar together since our early teens, and a couple of years ago we met a girl with a fantastic voice who joined us”.
“Are you famous?”she asked playfully.
“Hardly! We had lots of fun, though”.
“What’s the teaching like at Oxford; are the classes big?”
“The lectures are big, but the tutorials are small”.
“What are tutorials?”
“You meet once a week in groups of two or three students with your tutor; one of the students will have been assigned an essay, which they read, and then the tutor critiques the essay and encourages everyone else to chime in”.
“No kidding? I’ve never heard of anything like that before”.
“Well, it works alright with arts and humanities, but I don’t think they use it so much in the science courses”.
“I guess not”.
Joe wandered back into the dining area and sat down with us; “Is she still interrogating you?”he asked me with a smile.
“I don’t mind”.
“How are you finding Meadowvale, Tom?”
“It’s good; it’s different from what I’m used to, of course”.
“A little challenging to get into for an outsider?”
“A bit, but most people have been really welcoming. Sometimes people just forget that there are lots of things I don’t know about. I know they don’t mean to be unkind, though”.
“No; people are just used to each other, and it takes them a while to get comfortable with a newcomer”.
“Your dad and mum have been great; I’ve had supper here at least once a week since I arrived, and when I was setting my house up they couldn’t have been more helpful”.
“Where do you live?”asked Kelly.
“In a little rented place over toward the highway”.
“Ron Ratzlaff’s house?”
“That’s the one”.
“I know where you live, then. Maybe I’ll come over tomorrow and take you out for coffee”.
Joe grinned; “She’s really shy, my sister!”
“That would be fine”, I said; “I’d enjoy that”.
“Actually”, she added, “have you discovered Myers Lake yet?”
“No – what’s that?”
She grinned; “It’s a lake!”
We all laughed; “Sorry”, she said, “but I couldn’t resist that!”
“No need to apologize; I walked right into it!”
“It’s actually a regional park about seven miles north-east of here. The lake is a great place to see waterfowl in the summer, but what I like are the walking trails. There are several miles of them; they run along the shore and off into the bush. Of course, the poplars and willows are bare by now, but there are some spruce as well. And once the snow comes you can go cross-country skiing or snowshoeing”.
“I’d like to see that”.
“Well, tomorrow’s a holiday; why don’t I take you up there?”
“I’d like that”.
“Good”, she said with a smile; “Sounds like a plan!”