I’m walking in the park feeling free and unafraid. Thinking to myself, this is how women should feel in a public space but am also aware this is not always the case. However, I’m in Oliver, a small friendly town. Various people are walking their dogs and all stop to chat and introduce their pets – Sadie, Willy, Rusty and Max – I’ll get to know them all soon and will start carrying milk bones in my pocket. Up ahead is a long wire fence dividing the park walkway from private property. I see a man with his dog talking to a large light grey horse and he is holding out an apple.
Spotting me he asks, “Did you bring anything?”
“Uh, no,” is my response.
“Well!” exclaims the man. “If you are going to walk around here, you should bring an apple or carrot to share.”
“Oh. I’m new here and didn’t know the protocol involved just circling the park,” I said.
“His name is Darryl and he will come when you call him,” said the man.
“Oh, okay, I’ll remember that,” I replied and resumed walking. A pleasant interlude.
The park pathway navigates around the Community Centre. I stop to read the window notices. There is so much going on here and something for everyone’s interest to say nothing of being surrounded by golf courses and wineries.
I wind my way over a small bridge (circa 1955) and head to the library. On the way, I step aside as tiny tots are being led that way by rope. A teacher in front and back with the pre-schoolers down the middle grasping onto the rope with tiny hands. Oh, the pleasure of seeing all their innocent faces. Once inside the library, their coats and boots are shucked off and piled in a heap. They are welcomed to lay on a large rug or sit in little chairs, while one of the teachers reads to them – it’s a lovely small town sight. No security officers needed here! I use my time to order a couple of books I’ve been looking for. Pleasant, efficient service and they will call me in a few days to pick up same. So easy.
I cross over to the drugstore to pick up a prescription. I’m greeted by name and sit down for a short wait. The pharmacist comes from around the counter and sits with me for a bit just inquiring as to how I am feeling in general. I’m impressed – one doesn’t usually get this type of caring service – nope – only in Oliver, as the saying goes. Feeling good, I head uphill to a neat, funky little coffee shop located in an old church building.
They serve good local coffee, as well as homemade muffins or scones baked right on the premises. No “trucked” in goodies sold here. Local art work covers the walls and one feels ever so comfortable relaxing in one of their arm chairs. I see friends greeting friends- there are hugs galore and I’m part of that loving feeling that fills the room.
Across the street is a “real” post office. No lining up at drugstores or wherever for stamps and parcels – they do it all right here – all so handy. One wintry icy day, as I gingerly picked my way across the road to access the post office, a young man stopped, and parking his car, got out and offered me his arm. He guided me inside and then waited to assist with my return. I was so grateful and regretted not getting his name. Had I been in a major urban city, a young man or men might have stopped just long enough to grab my purse! Nope, this is small town Oliver. A similar experience happened at one of the grocery stores, as I navigated the icy parking lot. A woman got out of her car and assisted me to the main door and even pulled out a shopping cart for me. The kindness of a stranger!
With spring comes walking beside the river on the well maintained hike and bike trail. Bird life abounds and it is a pleasure to hear the blackbirds trill amongst the bulrushes. I decide to sit on one of the stone benches provided at intervals along the way. And so I’m just resting and drinking in the greenery and watching the ducks foraging or simply paddling around. Suddenly my reverie is broken by the raucous sound of a bicycle bell. A Senior Citizen woman is pedaling towards me and is topless! As she bobs and bicycles past, she merrily sings out, “Good morning!” I am too astounded to reply to her. An elderly couple is approaching me walking arm in arm.
“Did you see that?” I question them.
“Oh yes,” replied the woman calmly.
“Didn’t do a thing for me,” he replies.
“Likely be arrested riding publicly like that elsewhere but then this IS Oliver.” I said.
The three of us share a laugh and resume our walking in opposing directions. I’m still smiling when a delicate perfume surrounds me. What is it? Then I spot the wild roses on either side of the trail sharing their pink pastel beauty, as well as their pleasant scent. I feel honoured to be aware and accept this gift from nature.
Returning to my car, I decide to check in at the hospital lab for some previously scheduled blood tests that I had been putting off. It’s five minutes to anywhere in central Oliver, so I drive straight in to the hospital parking area and am grateful for the spaces provided and no parking charges. What a privilege! Inside service is quick and efficient at the lab. There are no people lying on cots in hallways waiting for admission here. All is calm despite staffing issues.
We decide to go to the movie theatre one night. Unbelievable value at $5.50 each, the seniors rate. My husband enjoys the popcorn made right on site and the “real” butter gushed over all. Of course, there are no parking charges, so we enjoy a cheap evening out; as well as it’s only maybe seven minutes from home. Another evening, we have tickets for a live performance at the Venables theatre. No parking problems here either and not a bad seat in the house. Wine (of course) is served at intermission, in keeping with Oliver’s reputation as wine capital of Canada. The local theatre troupe is A-1 in all its performances. There is so much talent offered both on stage and behind the scenes.
The harvest is in! Orchards and large gardens offer food of your choosing. Drive up any side road and buy directly from farmers or pick your own at a reduced cost. Also, there are many fruit stands lining the highway, an abundance of fruits, vegetables, honey, jams and syrups. It is indeed a great privilege to live in this agricultural area of plenty.
I have lived in many places and come from far away –
But little old Oliver is where I intend to stay.