When someone leaves, they take their energy with them. Sure, there may be a trace after they leave, but it’s never the same again. So it is with my friend Gale as she leaves our Open Studio. She’s moving to Vancouver Island, not that far away, but further than an easy drive to the art centre. A fine painter and maker of clayscapes, she’s a talented woman.
I will miss her during our Open Studio Tuesdays and lunches downtown. She taught me to listen to and hear the understatement and subtlety of Scottish witticisms. I’m sad to see her go, especially since we only recently recognized the extent to which we got along and enjoyed each other’s company. It hasn’t been easy for me to make friends in Canada. But Gale was from ‘somewhere’s else’ and that commonality spanned any divides. I’ve enjoyed our walks along Rocky Point and the cuppa that waited for us at the end of the trail.
Gale welcomed me to her home for a proper cup of tea served with accompaniments on the dining table built by her husband’s father, or was it grandfather? A massive, dark, Arts & Crafts style table from the birthplace of the style. She showed me the massive brass tea scales, her father’s trade, polished to perfection.
Gale taught me a few things, too. I learned that my stereotyped notions of the Scottish are incorrect…that it is not a country of homogenous peoples and that Glaswegians come in every stripe. That the dialect of the Highlander is soft and soft-spoken. Also that one might move to the Highlands but will never shed the label of outsider. Also that a man’s kilt isn’t nearly as expensive as the sporran that adorns it….
One of the most important things Gale taught me is to not feel bad about my heritage. Putting down the United States or Americans is a Canadian national pastime. While I’ve become a naturalized citizen, I’ve had to stomach much prejudice since I arrived 20 years ago. She reminded me that the U.S. has many high points…the people are friendly…it’s the birthplace of jazz and of many literary figures, along with artists and thinkers. Her message is, in fact, that much of it is good. It was refreshing to hear. While I, myself, utter my fair share of criticism about my birthplace, the bashing by others here can get old…and boring.
Lawrence, Gale’s husband can only be described as a Scottish leprechaun. It’s been a long time since I’ve been held in stitches by a master storyteller. He is that but, even more so, a sailor. He’s sailed since the age of four. Yes, four. Today, during lunch, I listened to talk about shimmying up masts and following winds…. Some time ago, Lawrence and Gale sold their house and bought a sailing yacht. When I heard that, I thought, perfect…people who actually followed their bliss. Soon, they’ll spend their time on the Strait of Georgia when they’re not on land. They’ve traded in the hectic pace of the Lower Mainland for Island Time. The slide show below is of pics taken during one of our walks along the waterfront here. I wish them all the luck and Godspeed.