Tales out of school

It was late in the evening, about 9:30, on a Thursday, when my cell phone rang.

I answered with my usual “Hopkins here.”

“I just read your article in the paper,” said the voice of a longtime reader and much longer friend. “What are you doing Sunday?” was the question then asked. My answer, short and sweet, was “Nothing.”

“Good,” came the reply, “I’ll pick you up and we can have lunch together.”

It was noon on the Sunday that his new-to-him truck pulled around the corner of our sideroad lane. Not recognizing the vehicle, I thought it was an egg customer coming to pick up eggs. But when it pulled up very close to the end of our well-shovelled curved flagstone walk, I knew it must be someone who knew that I, with my cane, trusting though it is, had difficulty walking on ice.

It was, as you’ve probably guessed, my Thursday night caller. “If you’re not overly hungry, let’s tour for a while,” was his comment as we rolled silently down our ice-covered front laneway, turning south. Having lived his life as a cattle drover, he knew well the highways and byways, so he kept to the network of sideroads heading south. The scenery was great.

When we came to the north end of Guelph, I knew that we were going to have lunch at the restaurant where Speedvale Avenue and Eramosa Road meet, which he knew that the Little Lady and I had often stopped at for lunch. Being as he was a cattle drover, we, in appreciation, munched on steak for lunch.  

On leaving, we turned left down Victoria Road and right onto Stone Road heading west, beyond the Hanlon Expressway. Due to Guelph’s rapid expansion, we had to stop and ask which way to Niska Road. It was a sunny and warm afternoon, and many were around and about, but the first three groups turned out to be students and their answers in turn were, “Sorry, we are not from around here. We’re just visiting.”

With the fourth, a middle-aged jogger, we had better luck. As his feet kept moving up and down, he waved his arms and pointing, he directed: “Down to the red light right here, turn right and turn right again at the next corner. You’ll find Niska Road from there.” We had barely time to thank him, and with a sweep of his arms, to again gain momentum, off he went.

Moments later we were crossing the much-loved and talked about Bailey Bridge, and wham, wham, wham, did that ever bring back a flood of fond memories! Let me tell you, folks, if memories were made of molasses, that little rusty rustic Bailey Bridge would have floated gently downstream to join the rippling waters of the fast-running Hanlon Creek.

If you were to count the times, during the four years previous to our marriage, that the Little Lady and I stood on that same little bridge, watching and listening to the quacking ducks, the gabbling geese, and the calling of the night flying whip-poor-will, you would have to remove both your socks and shoes, many times over, to count the numerous occasions.

I may be, perhaps, telling a tale out of school, but it was on that same bridge, on a warm August evening, beneath the glow of a huge harvest moon, that the proverbial four-worded question was asked, “Will you marry me?” The gaggle of geese on the river, while bobbing their heads up and down, gabbled in boisterous agreement when they heard the loud and clear answer: “Yes! Yes!” And once again, “Yes!” It was she who had popped the question; it was I who had answered “Yes!”

Take care, ‘cause we care.




Barrie Hopkins