Old Friends and Relations

Monday, January 8, 2017

Winter Silversmith completed his meeting in Saskatoon, Sask. He rented an SUV/crossover and drove over to Nowhere, Sask. He arrived at 4:55pm just before sunset.

As Winter walked towards the Prairie Moon Café a trucker flashed an I know I'm charming grin at a woman walking by and tried to engage in conversation with her.

“Hello Miss. I've got a canine friend back home too. Is he friendly?”

He extended the charming smile to the Winter and then it faltered as his attempt with the woman simply tanked.

The café was full of locals from the area and the quaint rural lives of Nowhere, Saskatchewan blossomed like colourful fauna in each corner and at each table. There was a table of women friends on one side, a farmer couple and their friend adjacent, a man with a ponytail sitting at the counter being served and a cook at the grill being highly efficient. The din of conversation cut with the scent of coffee and fried food in the retro rustic décor created that frozen in time slice of roadside Canadiana culture that could only be lived through it’s consumption on an interpersonal plane.



Barb Melnyk looked down at her crutches and sighed. She turned her head to see who Marcie Jones was looking and then grinned broadly “Well hey stranger! Been awhile…..Alex is waiting tables. Give him a real complicated order Winter!”

Barb laughed and then answered the question from the conversation she was in as he walked in “This was my rocky start to 2018. All it takes it one patch of ice right? Thank goodness we found another waitress for awhile. Hi June. Do you have pictures from the party on there?”

June Wilson beamed at the thought of sharing her photos and after Barb got seated and arranged her crutches the three of them got drawn into her finger swiping and talking non stop.

Alex Melnyk reached to set the plate in front of Randall “You sold me the fish, but you order the poutine. Should I be worried old friend?” He looked up and noticed Winter and his face broke into a wider grin “And speaking of old friends! Hello there Winter! Happy New Year!”

Randall Bird laughed and then raised his coffee cup slightly at the stranger “Hi. No, I just eat a lot of my own catch. Thanks Alex.” He made a point of looking at the man Alex called Winter again with emphasis “I highly recommend the trout!”

The sizzle of the grill didn’t quite cover Chris Wilson’s chuckle at the whole exchange.

 “Hello Alex, and a Happy New Year to you.” Winter smiled at the stranger seated at the counter and then looked back at Alex “the poutine sounds delicious” he said with a smile “and a coffee too please”. Winter sat down on a stool near the end of the counter and turned slightly to glance around the room.

“Nice wallpaper, I see a few things have changed here over the past year”. Winter looked toward the window to see the slow flurries curling and dancing behind the glass. “It is getting blustery out there, I didn’t know if I would make it down here this evening or not”.  Winter turned back to the counter as Alex sets a bowl of steaming hot poutine down.

“Coffee will take a minute, just brewed a fresh pot” Alex said as he glanced up at the wall. “Yes, new wallpaper, do you like the ducks, Barb picked it out” nodding across the room toward his wife.

“They’re Canada geese not ducks, you know that Alex” Barb called back in return catching the last part of the conversation.

“Ducks, geese, all dinner in my book” Alex turned to check on the coffee and seeing Chris nodding in agreement.

Barb rolled her eyes at the foul statements and turned back to Marcie and June. Marcie was detailing the long saga of caring for her aging poodle and June was offering helpful suggestions.

“Maybe if you put the pill in a meatball?”

Barb nodded along.

The next table over were in a clearly amused conversation with the three of them nearly tipping over with laughter.

A white Subaru rental pulled up in front of the store side and Anna Wright stretched her neck side to side before getting out and pulling a backpack from the back seat. She saw Barb through the window and waved with a big smile.



Alex noticed Anna but just nodded and stayed focused on Winter and Randall “Wacky weather everywhere eh?”

The door opened and an icy breeze slid through as Anna made her way to Barb. She smiled at Alex and glanced at who was at the counter. Two men, but one was familiar in an uncanny way. She frowned slightly as she moved to her cousin and plunked down in the seat beside her “Hey you!”

Barb shifted a crutch and leaned over giving Anna a half hug “ I’m so glad you’re here! How was the drive? You remember June and Marcie?”

Anna hugged back and then looked a bit vague and distracted “Maybe.... hello anyway!” She greeted politely.

The ladies across returned the greeting and then returned to the dog conversation.

Anna took the opportunity to discreetly whisper to Barb “The guy at the counter... the tall one. Do you know his name?”

Barb darted a way too obvious glance at the counter and whispered back “He’s Winter... old friend of Sasha’s.” Then she smirked “Why, do you think he’s cute?”

Anna cringed at the obvious glance and then swatted Barb for her insinuation. “Shut up... I think....” She broke off awkwardly and dared not look back directly. She’d seen Winter. She’d seen him walk by a fair few times now, completely avoided meeting him and left cookies at his door. Six degrees of separation failed again. This man was her neighbour. She quietly explained this to Barb and Barb looked way too amused by it.



Anna tried to ignore Barb’s teasing and strained to listen in on the conversation at the counter, pondering whether to go introduce herself. Alex was clearing his plate and offering Winter room one to rent and going to grab the key from the wall. Between the dog conversation at her table and the other man at the counter suddenly bantering with the cook she could barely catch the words between Winter and Alex, but before she had decided whether or not to talk to him, Alex was waving at him as he walked towards the door and outside.

Anna sighed. She could try again tomorrow as he appeared to be staying the night. Barb elbowed her and chuckled. She’d come all this way to meet the person who lived next door. Life was truly odd sometimes.

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Be sure to also read Winter's perspective here:

http://corranjournal.weebly.com/corran-journal/two-nights-in-nowhere

And cross posted in part here:

http://talesfrombearisland.blogspot.ca/2018/01/familiar-strangers.html



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