It was a very touristy place ... with all kinds of visitors. The town was there because of the hot springs and the lake ... a small town, which looked as though, it had tumbled from a 50's sitcom television show. So much so, that if ... when I first came upon it ... it rose before me in monochrome black and white ... I think that I would have thought, it was ... as it should be ... captured in time ... like old VCR tapes of Mayberry.
The lake, on the other hand, was a glorious vibrant technicolor blue ... framed by a spectacular indigo mountain range. Between the lake and town, there was a large hotel ... part old and part new. After we had visited the area a few times, our curiosity won out and M and I booked a room there, for a night.
It was lovely ... though I couldn't shake the sense ... that we slipped … effortlessly slipped ... from monochrome to technicolor ... as we moved about the place. It was as if, we were in some avante garde cinematic experimental film ... back in time .... and back to the future ... and back in time ...
The hotel was built around the hot spring ... with an expansive, luxuriously appointed pool and patio, dotted with tree shaded lounging spots. Definitely technicolor ... sparkling technicolor ... for, at night, it was lit up like a tropical paradise. The main glass doors, to this exotic oasis ... led out from 'THE BALLROOM' ... monochrome, definitely ... and straight-up thirties movie glam ... with a dinner-jacketed band straight-out-of the Big Band Swing Era.
Between the hotel and the lake was a lengthy meandering paved path, arrayed with little seasonal shops, filled with kites and beach balls and ice cream cones. Tiny buildings painted in fuchsias and mint greens, with polka dot shutters and candy cane striped awnings. They reminded me of the cartoon towns where Archie and Veronica and Richie Rich and Audrey and Wendy the Good Little Witch once lived ... when I was a very little girl.
There was a bench on the lawn of the hotel, where you could sit and gaze out at the lake ... at the majestic mountains in the distance ... and, from time-to-time ... at the people on the footpath ... as they went by ... as they slowly faded to monochrome ... before, flat-out, slowly fading away.
Once, while I was sitting there ... something happened to me, that had never happened before ... and has never happened since. I thought I saw my kindergarten teacher coming down the path, towards me. I was surprised ... to-be-honest ... more-than-a-little shocked ... that I was able to recognize her. After so many, many years, I would have thought, I'd be hard-pressed to describe her ... let alone identify her ... though she'd hardly changed at all ... which, I must admit ... seemed odd ... eerie and odd. Nevertheless, the resemblance was so compelling ... it, literally, crushed all reason and reality.
As she drew closer, I realized that I had been staring at her ... fixedly ... gawking at her, frankly ... from the moment I first caught a glimpse of her. Shifting my concentrated scrutiny towards the lake ... I found myself grappling with what-to-do with my flagrant breach of manners ... just as ... she came to stand before ... in the very definition of AWKWARD SITUATION. Truly ... how could this woman NOT THINK that there was something seriously wrong with me.
"Beautiful Day," she remarked cheerily.
"Yes ... beautiful," I responded, red-faced with embarrassment. And then ... thinking to myself ... just-go-for-it: you have already been so rude, nothing you could say or do, could possibly paint your social skills in a more unmannerly light ... and so I began ...
"I know this is going to sound bizarre, but you look just like a teacher I once had. Seriously, it's quite extraordinary," nimbly editing out the adjective 'kindergarten' from 'teacher', as I spoke ... I mean, good-grief, look-at-me, I'm circling old age.
"I thought it might be something like that," she said … and followed up her polite response with a friendly smile. Clearly, she was one-of-the-nice-ones.
And so, I continued, "She was such a nice teacher ... a really nice person. I guess you could say that she introduced me to the value of nice. In fact, I still think of her whenever I meet someone who is nice and pleasant and kind ... and ... I still think of her whenever I meet someone who isn't ... nice and pleasant and kind. Though, I'm quite sure she would have passed away by now. Actually," I confessed sheepishly, "I know that she has passed."
"Well, I'm pleased that I could bring her to mind for you, on this lovely afternoon ... although I think this place played a big part in that ... steeped, as it is, in eras and eons and timelessness. It has a gift of stirring up the themes of our lives ... and the ways in which we struck on them."
"Yes," I agreed, "I feel that very much too. Anywhere that sky and water meet mountains, has that effect ... that transcendence. But here in this place ... you feel it even more so."
She glanced briefly at her watch, shrugged agreeably, and began to continue her stroll after remarking, "It was nice meeting you," giggling a soft giggle at her incantation of the word 'nice'
I watched as she walked away. Soon she would begin to fade ... on that long and winding way ... when suddenly, she stopped ... turned ... and looking back at me, called out: "You never know ... perhaps we'll meet again ... some day."
photo: Harrison Lake, BC – W. Bourke (the beach in front of Harrison Hot Springs Resort )
2020 Wendy Bourke