On Sunday, my mind wandered back to the early days of this column. It would have been 1989 and if memory serves it was the second “This is the Life” effort. If memory doesn’t serve, forgive me — 1,100 or so columns is probably a bit too much to remember accurately.
Anyway, I digress. Not so long before that particular column I had watched a video featuring the great monologue performer Spalding Grey. He had described what he called a perfect moment and the idea burned itself into my thoughts.
The stimulus for the perfect moment that became a column topic was a visit on a sunny summer day to chat with a gentlemen who sold antiques from his home near Armstrong Bay on Kootenay Lake. Reg and his wife were gracious hosts and I enjoyed the tour through the shop they called Mousehole Antiques, a room or two in their lovely home.
Afterward, we sat and sipped tea, looking out over the lake and having an interesting and wide-ranging conversation. When I left their home to make the drive home, I was struck with how fortunate I was to have a job that allowed me the freedom to visit with such interesting people, and about how grateful I was that, 10 years earlier, we had chosen to make the Creston Valley our home.
In the decade since relocating from Calgary, we had been blessed with two sons, built a house, made countless friends and had jobs we enjoyed. My five-year plan to learn the newspaper business at the Advance had long been scrapped and it would be another four years before I moved away from the business to spend a dozen years at other endeavours.
My love affair with having this space to fill each week never died, though. I kept on writing “This is the Life” at the invitation of publisher Helena White. In the early days of personal computers, I bought a laptop word processor-printer that had a tiny amount of memory, just enough to display one line of a document before it was printed. For several years I hand-delivered each column to the Advance office. When I was out of town I faxed them to a string of different editors. Those columns were written in cities across Canada and the U.S., and even from Italy.
At its best, the experience of writing a weekly column is joyful, a brief period that allows me to look back over the past week and write about the one subject that has captured my imagination. At its worst, it induces moments of jitters — those fortunately short periods of time spent staring at a computer screen, grasping at straws for inspiration. In either situation there is a common denominator — I rarely know exactly what direction a column will take until it’s underway. And I never know how it will end until I get there.
This particular effort is a prime example. I knew what I wanted to write about — a series of perfect moments that strung together to form a perfect day — but I also wanted to give the subject some context.
Obviously, I don’t write about all of the perfect moments I experience. They are far too plentiful for that. But they do add to the life we enjoy here in the valley and serve as reminders that this is indeed, a special place.
So now I’ve come this far and have yet to talk about the perfect moments that added up to a perfect day last weekend. I’ll continue this next week.
Meanwhile, a correction: Thanks to a reader for drawing to my attention to a column two weeks ago in which I referred to a $500 billion improvement plan for the Enbridge pipeline proposal. The number should have, of course, been $500 million. Thanks to the reader for pointing out the error and for the conversation that followed.
Lorne Eckersley is the publisher of the Creston Valley Advance.