I am milking the goats in the barn when our visitors arrive and I quickly finish up and go out to greet them. I havn`t seen Pam, a fellow art teacher, her husband Mike and family since I left teaching in the Okanagan two years ago. They look no different, but I must be a surprise with my big beard and scruffy work clothes, stepping out of our rough plywood barn with a pail of milk in my hand. It is at times like these that I realize how far down an alternate path we have been wandering. And working so hard to get there!
They camp in our bottom field, and the next day I take them out in our big rowboat ‘Swallow’ on an expedition to Portland Island. It`s a lovely sunny day and Mike`s fishing line is out. This is what summer in the Gulf Islands is all about, right? Well, perhaps for visitors. I`m thinking how seldom I have actually been out in the boat, that months go by with my nose to the grindstone working to build us into some state of security. Security, wasn`t that something I had willingly left behind?
A sailboat crosses our wake and shortly thereafter the rod bends and the reel screams. Not a wopper fish, no, we have snagged the keel of the sailboat! There is no way he will reel it in so the line breaks and the lure is lost. Mike is furious! I start to laugh which does not help the mood in the boat. I am laughing at his loss, and at the sheer chance that brought this all about and also at what seems to me to be a disproportionate expenditure of emotion.
Once, I too might have reacted in outrage at what now seems a trivial and amazing coincidence. I resume rowing and the incident is passed over. Soon we arrive at Portland Island and walk the beautiful trails of the park and I privately review the fishing incident and what it has to tell me. We are leading a hardscrabble life still and learning many new skills in the process. One I hadn`t noticed `til now had crept up unannounced, the ability to simply deal with daily problems and reverses as they come along without throwing in a supercharge of negative emotion as well. I would be a nervous wreck if I indulged myself in that way because each day has it`s list of problems. The one luxury I allow myself is to carry on a feud with the goats and that seems OK because they are always trying to get my goat! If cussing has ultimately failed me, I have learned to laugh. As my favourite film character, Forest Gump, says, “It happens”. Some things have changed in my life for the better after all.