It was a wintry walk along the shore, cold and monochromatic. I spotted a couple of seals cavorting and despite the sub-zero temperature I thought once again how lucky we are to live on the Pacific west-coast , on the edge of the rain forest. The winter so far had been mild, except for the Nordic blast the past few days, which pales in comparison to the deep freeze back east and the mid-west. Minus 40 degrees is just no temperature for any living thing and neither is +40 degrees on the other side of the world where roads are melting and animals and people are dying in the furnace of Australia.
When I mentioned this to Campbell, or Camp as he is known all over the Sunshine Coast in British Columbia – not Australia – he just shook his head of grey curls and said: “But Trump said there is no climate change because it’s cold outside.”
“Yes, I read that. I expected nothing else from an ignoramus but now we also know who put him in the White House,” I said.
“Ah, you’re referring to Sarah Sanders arrogant statement on the Christian Broadcasting Network,” he chuckled.
“Yes, the one where she said that Trump was chosen by God to become president. She didn’t say which God.”
“And neither did she mention that the same God also put Putin, Assad, Maduro, Orban and all the other despots into their jobs.” Camp said. “Everybody except the pope who has been elected by his peers.”
”Reminds me of that Dylan song: With God on our side. There are plenty of dangerous fools in this world that believe that God is on their side,” I said
“To those who believe, no explanation is necessary – to those who do not believe, no explanation is possible,” Camp quoted. “That’s from The Song of Bernadette, a 1943 film starring Jenniver Jones.”
“Where do you find these gems?” I asked.
“I own a bookstore and have a lot of time to read during the day, especially at this time of year,” Camp said.
We both watched silently as Vicky put a couple of fresh pints in front of us. We hadn’t even finished our first ones.
“What’s that?” Camp asked suspiciously, eying the darker than usual beer.
“It’s our own lager,” Vicky said. “We’re having it brewed just for us. The first ones are on the house. Let me know how they compare.”
“Never turned down a free drink,” Camp said as we both hoisted our glasses. “Not bad,” Camp said. “It goes down easy.”
“Looks like May got her votes for her tepid Brexit version,” I said.
“Yeah, I still think the British people were misinformed about the consequences of this myopic divorce. I’m sorry for all the young people who couldn’t vote but will be stuck with the deal. Many of the Brexit advocates won’t be alive ten years from now,” Camp said.
“Closer to home we lost Tain Sung Chong from Fong’s market. He lived behind that counter for as long as I remember, 365 days a year, day and night,” I said.
“Yes, he’s a real loss to the community. He leaves behind his wife Lee and four children. I think he came to Gibsons in the early eighties after having immigrated to Alberta from Borneo. His store is a treasure trove and I can’t think of a thing that you couldn’t find in the labyrinth of Fong’s store. Chinese baskets, vases, lanterns, mats, ice cream, magazines or groceries, milk, hot sauce or toothpaste, you could always find it at Fongs.”
“I hope the store continues,” I said.
“Are you talking about Mr. Chong?” Vicky asked. “Getting lost in the isles of Fong’s market as a kid was like Alice jumping down the Rabbit hole. The shelves were crammed with stuff from floor to ceiling with lanterns, wind chimes and toys hanging from the ceiling. I loved going in there and Mr. Chong was always nice to us kids, like a Buddha behind the counter. He’ll be missed.”
We toasted the passing of one of Gibsons most well known citizens, even though he hardly ever left his store.
“Looks like another week of winter on the way. I think I’ll need a couple of weeks in the sun,” I said.
“Oh yeah? Must be nice just to be able to get up and go. Where are you going now?”
“Grenada is nice I hear. The spice islands. I’ll bring back some nutmeg and vanilla.”
“Does that mean I have to drink by myself next week? Maybe I’ll convince Muriel to join me. Mind you that wont be the same, she doesn’t always agree with me quite as easily as you do.”