We’d gone to Egmont for an afternoon outing. At the Thrift Shop–Serve Yourself, Pay by Donation–Forrest found Eric Newby’s The Big Red Train Ride, well read, and a nice edition of Ambrose Bierce’s The Devil’s Dictionary–a faint breeze moved the clothing on the racks and you could smell the sea. We remembered the events at the Community Hall — the Christmas craft fairs, the seafood suppers, several weddings, a funeral, the dances we called hippie stomps for the wild music. The little boys raced around the old Egmont school field (school long gone but a simple slide, some swings, mowed grass and a soccer net, the tiny basketball court where Brendan once played 3 on 3 at Egmont Daze and was rewarded with hotdogs, a ribbon), one of them climbed the big rock on the right side of the image with such diligence you’d have thought it was Everest, the air was clear, the sky blue. There was a well-pruned apple tree, laden with fruit. A view of mountains on the other side of Jervis Inlet. No one wanted to leave. A woman with a can of beer wandered up from the Government Dock with her children, perhaps 2 and 6, the boy in his blue lifejacket looking around, kicking the grass with a sandaled foot, saying, There’s nothing here. Just swings.
Today in the library, each boy chose a video for the next week. Their dad already brought home an armload of books last week, to supplement the two bookcases of children’s books still here, 25 years later. On our way to check them out, E. excitedly rushed to the shelves of book club sets. Look, huckleberries, he shrieked. And I looked. How likely was it that of all the books in the library, it was my Euclid’s Orchard he’d spot, with its cover image not of huckleberries but crapapples, bright and red on a leafless tree?
Walking up from the lake last evening, I turned to urge E. to catch up with me. He was flushed with the day’s sun, his bucket and shovel dangling from one hand, the other touching the huckleberry bushes as he passed them. And what was that? Singing. A sweet dreamy voice, singing his own bedtime song.
Speed, bonnie boat, like a bird on the wing
Onward, the sailors cry!
Carry the lad that’s born to be King
Over the sea to Skye.