to an old friend on his 93rd birthday

by underswansea


Ronald operating the linotype.

Damn, it’s been awhile since you moved away. It’s not often a day goes by without wanting to say something to you. Of course, you never got hooked on the Internet, so I’m not sure how to get a hold of you; tin cans with a string maybe, or smoke signals! I’ve tried yelling in the creek bottoms. All that does is get the dogs looking at me funny.

Did you see how early the ice was off the lake this year? Cripes, can you ever remember a time in your 93 years it went out on March 11th? Shit, talk about global warning. Dapper would have blamed it on the ‘those damn atuum boombs’.

Crocuses have been out for about a week now. Lisa and I saw a herd of robins at the end of January. I swatted at a mosquito today. Willow had a wood tick on the weekend. Sure as hell no two weeks of -40 to kill off the pine beetle this year.

I heard my first Western Meadowlark yesterday. I’ve been keeping an ear open, walking the fields below Swansea. Damned if I didn’t hear the first one while coming out of the new grocery store near where Mose Teneese used to live. Yup it’s a grocery store now. Maybe that Meadowlark didn’t get the memo!

There have been a few changes around here since you left. More boats on the lake for one thing. You wouldn’t believe it actually. I don’t think I’ve seen that pair of loons since you left. Folks don’t catch trout or ling anymore. Now they catch bass. I don’t know where they came from either. Maybe some fisheries guy in Victoria thought they would be a good idea.

I still find peace in the mountains. I hike a lot of the old trails you showed me. And they haven’t changed. A few new logging sets and the hole where the mine is located has gotten bigger. But there is plenty of bush and crags to get lost in. I still regularly hike up the old passes, scrounge up a few sticks of twisted tamarack for a fire and camp below the ridge. The constellations still keep time rotating through the night and from season to season. It’s the only clock that seems important now. I think you tried to tell me that once.

Don’t start thinking I’ve mellowed at all. I’m still an obstinate crank. In fun you used to call me that occasionally. I realize now, as I did then, there is some truth in it.

Made a few mistakes since you were gone. I’ve pissed a few people off, as well. But shit, I’m proud of most all of it.

Do you know what’s funny? I worked my way down the career ladder. I even worked for a union for a while. Holy shit, you warned me about that! But now I’m working my way back up. We don’t need much. I just want to work hard at a job I enjoy. I’ve been cleaning up an old letterpress lately. It’s funny; because that was the first job you gave me when I was only knee high. You said me skinny arms could get into the hard to reach places.

I run into plenty of people that remember you. Sadly not many of the old locals left, however, I still see Ray Crook, Joy Bond and Jim Ashworth occasionally. Lisa and I went to Joe Fuller’s 90th birthday a couple weeks ago.

As far as politics go we have a Trudeau for Prime Minister again. Strange I know. So far he doesn’t seem to be doing so bad and people all over the world love him. He is being treated like a rock star. I just hope it doesn’t go to his head. We will have to wait and see. Meanwhile you should see what’s going on in the States. Remember that Trump guy. Well, you wouldn’t believe it if I told you!

I’m at the age now that you were when I first started to get to know you. Things start to make sense when you get older. At the same time, the body develops a few aches and pains. I’m sure as hell not as quick as I once was. I have to piss three times a night and women smile at me like I’m an old harmless fool instead of a young viral buck (which I still think I am, by the way)! But there’s a big difference in that smile! Still I’ll take what I can get.

Just wanted to let you know, all is well here. I wish we had time for a game of crib and a snort of whiskey, but I know you’d say, “It’s getting late and it’s past my bedtime so we should wrap it up”.

Happy Birthday old-timer!