‘Are you aware that the 2020 Climate Change Performance Index was released a couple of days ago, rating 57 countries.’ Camp said as he struggled out of his coat and placed his hat on the empty chair next to us. At that exact moment, like choreography, Vicky arrived with two lovely pints.
‘How safe is safe,’ I asked Camp just as Rosy, our Irish server, put two pints in front of us. ‘I’m referring to a travel advisory I came across which lists all the places to avoid, like parts of Mexico, Central America, Venezuela.’
Finally, we can see some sugar coating on the mountains and the skiers are waxing their boards,’ I said.
‘More like you are waxing nostalgically,’ Camp said.
‘Well, the snow just reminds me of when I was a kid, my dad would melt this stick of red wax and apply to my wooden boards and let it dry overnight. I would get up in the middle of the night and put my finger on it, making sure it’s drying and ready for the morning.’
‘I guess you could ski before you walked,’ my friend Campbell, Camp as he is known around town, said, taking a sip from his beer.
‘Did you know that last month the UN General Assembly voted to allow the Palestinians to procedurally act like a member state during meetings next year when they will chair the group of 77 developing nations. The United States, Israel and Australia voted against the move, Canada and 14 other countries abstained and 29 didn’t vote.’
‘It’s such a beautiful day today and I hear it’s your birthday,’ Camp, my friend and stalwart drinking buddy, said, hosting his pint in a toast. ‘That makes you a borderline scorpion. Shouldn’t you be at home with your wife, instead of whiling away the time at the pub.’
‘Clare has a garden club meeting – in November – and she’ll meet us here before we’ll go out for dinner,’ I said. ‘In fact, you and Muriel are invited to join us.’
‘Where do you plan to go?’
As soon as Campbell, Camp to us patrons, took off his hat and coat and seated himself in front of a fresh pint, I jumped in with my peeve of the week.
‘I have to revisit the Don Cherry fiasco from last weekend if you don’t mind,’ I said. ‘Was firing him for what he said really the correct thing to do? No chance to apologize, no discussion, just show him the door?’
November is the time when the parties and gatherings of friends and neighbours start. It’s cold and dark and there is nothing more fun than and wine and dine around a fire in the hearth. Halloween and the day of the dead are both gone and we’ve had Muriel, Camp and her daughter Sophie over for some Swiss Fondue, always a seasonal favorite, even for vegetarians. We tried to steer the conversations away from all the trouble in the world but it’s hard to ignore the devastating fires in California and the vast worldwide demonstrations for a livable future environment. Over and over we just emphasised how lucky we are to live in the temperate Pacific Northwest, at the edge of the rainforest. Camp and I saved some tales of woe and misery for our weekly Thirsty Thursday at the pub. The one that is really bothering me is the horrific opioid addiction and resulting death toll due to overdoses in the US and Canada.
‘We live in a very complicated world these days,’ I said. ‘Clare and I watched a Netflix documentary the other night: ‘The Great Hack’, about Cambridge Analytica and their manipulation of personal data to influence the last US election and Brexit amongst others. It turns out that Facebook, whose aim was to bring people together through connectivity is actually driving people apart. The conclusion was that fair elections or referendums are an anachronism and a thing of the past.’
It’s sunny once again and the endless days of rain long forgotten. ‘The elections are over, and we have a minority government, just as I predicted,’ I said to Camp who was busy on his phone.
‘Just adding up some numbers,’ he said apologizing. ‘Christmas is coming and Kelly, my new help, seems to manage me along with the store. She wants the November and December sales stats for the last five years. She thinks it will help to build a strategy for the upcoming season.’
‘Old people think of the past, the young ones look to the future,’ Camp said when I took my seat at the pub for our weekly beer and chat. He seemed unusually pensive this evening.
‘I guess you’re right but mind you, grandparents think of the future.’
‘They worry about it but their thoughts more often then not wander into the past, their personal history mostly. ‘
It’s fall here, which means rain, pumpkins and indoor activities. Not my favourite time of year. I just don’t like putting on all these layers of clothes and Clare always has ‘nothing to wear’ when it gets cold and miserable outside. The last couple of days were crystal clear and crisp and apparently October 10th was the coldest in BC in a 123 years. Yikes.
‘How was your trip east?’ Muriel asked as I sat down at our usual corner table overlooking the calm waters between Gibsons harbour and Keats Island. ‘I made Camp close the store early so we could have a drink together. I hope you don’t mind me joining your weekly cabinet meeting.’
‘You know what the most watched picture was last week, indeed maybe the whole past year,’ Camp asked as he sat down. No comment about the weather, book sales or married life with Muriel.
‘Probably the one about Greta Thunberg sailing past the Statue of Liberty or the one about the fires at the Saudi oil refinery or maybe Trumps map of Hurricane Dorian in Alabama.’
September looked like November for the past few days and the swimming days are gone with the summer it seems. Camp met me out front the pub and we both walked in together. As soon as we sat down and even before our beers arrived Camp needed to vent about the attacks on the Saudi oil refineries and Brexit with Boris.
‘So did you watch any news,’ Camp asked before I even sat down at our usual corner table by the Salish Sea.
‘You can be proud of me. I refrained from reading the daily news from my phone on my bedside table as soon as I opened my eyes, which had become my routine as of late. Instead I just lay there for a couple of minutes, contemplating the day ahead.’
‘I have to confess,’ Camp said, ‘I have been following the Brexit improv theatre but only with cursory, sideway glances,’ Camp confessed.
‘I see you hired a part time assistant at the store,’ I said to Camp as I sat down for our weekly relax and debrief over a couple of brews.
‘Muriel insisted that I take on some help to organize the store.’
‘Probably a good idea, now that the summer rush is over. How did you find the person and what’s her name?’
‘I know you don’t have a TV but have you seen any movies lately?’ I asked my friend and cohort Camp, after I sat down.
‘As a matter of fact Muriel and I went to see Yesterday. I only went because I knew the music would be fantastic. Imagine a world without the Beatles.’
This is the time of the west coast summer I like the most. Warm, lazy days, fresh tomatoes and black berries on the table, cool languid evenings and the leaves turning colour already. It’s the end of the summer, kind of a metaphor for myself. I feel a bit nostalgic, having just spent last weekend at an annual cousin gathering in Heidiland; talking, walking, eating and drinking. Maybe not in that order.
It’s been a perfect summer so far. The occasional rain has taken the sting out of the expected drought, which resulted in thousands of forest fires over the past couple of years. ‘What’s with this haze? ‘I said when I joined my friend Camp at our watering hole on the Gibsons harbour.
‘Apparently it’s from the massive forest fires in Siberia’ which have consumed over 13 million acres this year alone, an area larger than Greece,’ he said. ‘Putin sent in the army and even Trump offered to help fighting the blaze.’
Camp was already at our usual table, engrossed in the Vancouver Sun.
‘Great interview by the way. Folly Bistro will be a hit at my bookstore.’
‘Thanks Camp, I can use all the free PR I can get.’
The walk along the seashore was as pleasant as it gets. I wore shorts, sandals and T-shirt; my favourite attire. Storm clouds building to the west promise welcome rain overnight and then it’s back to sunshine. When I checked with Camp earlier in the week at the store, which was crawling with tourists, mostly looking for a washroom, he assured me that he would be there on Thursday. ‘Nothing has changed buddy, stop worrying. You’re not my mother in law.’