Sunday, March 17, 2013

meeting on the shore.......




strangers show up when you least expect them. they arrive wrapped in promise and stories. i come from a place where the stranger was a subject of intense observation and welcomed delight. the people in my village loved the arrival of a stranger. we had memorised the shape of our own faces and could recite all our tales. when someone strange arrived either by land or sea the whole community rushed to the wonder.

i imagine that is where my lack of fear of the unknown comes from. when i see a stranger my heart beats fast with the knowledge that i may hear a story. how can you not trust someone you've never met. it is my experience, it is the ones you hold close that cause the most harm. 

and so they came.........

when i was quite young a japanese man stayed in our home. he had come from his country to study the mackerel or herring - i don't remember which. he stayed with my mother and i. my mother was a widow and so i'm sure any stipend he offered was appreciated. i loved him. i talked his ear off. his english was about as lovely as my japanese. he brought excellent gifts of fans and small dolls. when he went fishing with the men he wore my deceased father's rubber boots and fishing gear. some may say that set the tone for me - a stranger from another land looking sweetly familiar - like a memory from a happier time. maybe that's the moment i feel in love with strangers.

sometimes..

 young men would appear out of seemingly, thin air. the men were bearded with backpacks. they were running from war and choose to hide in the thick spruce on our shores. they built dodgy shelters and did odd jobs. my friends and i would stand in the bush and watch their doings.  still and silent like wooden totems, we watched unseen as they ranted aloud about the government and smoked those, as my mother said, "funny cigarettes." most of them would last the summer and fall but when the wind started to blow from the nor'east and the ice and snow came they rethought their principles and moved on. 

on rare occasions strangers arrived by water. an unfamiliar boat would sail into the harbour. i can tell you that was a time of quick, excited action. women whipped off their aprons and men ran their fingers through their hair. we were like people heading for a show. one such time a sailboat limped into our little port in need of engine repairs. word went round and i raced to the wharf to be first to greet them. my friend was with me, the pretty one who could sing, she and i rushed to usher the woman and children ashore. the men surround the stranger. the flag on the masthead was swedish and so was much of what they spoke.. my friend and i steered the woman and her children towards the beach. this little family was going to be my prize. i would convince her to come to my house for some tea and a slice of cake. i stood slightly in front of my friend to make it clear i was obvious choice. the woman took some clothes out of a ditty bag and said they wanted to change out of their bathing suits. i was just about to suggest they did that at my house - when they all stripped off their suits and stood stippy stark naked on the sand. i will admit to be slightly taken aback, but quickly recovered. my friend, a good girl, clutched her freshly ironed shirted and started to cry. she wrung her hands, turned and began running down the beach, wailing her head off. i turned and thought, "well there goes the competition." i was not accustomed to naked foreigners but manners suggested i wait patiently for them to dress. "this way," i said and then lead then through the path to my house. my mother, like every other woman in the village, would have already boiled the kettle. she was in fact probably already slicing the cake - because in these situations it was an asset to have have a child, who as my uncles would say "could talk the paint off the boat" the little family stayed in our village for a week but sadly they did not sleep at my house, as it turns out they preferred showers to baths and my house didn't have one. i feel that this was condition i couldn't have foreseen so i didn't take to heart.

so when i see a stranger i feel no sense of apprehension, no fear,  i just see someone i haven't met.  but anyway, why lead with fear -  these strangers may carry with them the kindness you seek and  the stories you have not yet heard.......

bev

80 comments:

  1. This is lovely bev and i love your positive and refreshing approach to the idea of strangers in a tired and wary world. In so many cases, strangers are just as wary or awkward feeling as we are.

    Bev, I have a Monday blog hop I would like to invite you to link up to. I'd love to have your wonderful writing there!

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    1. dear linda, thank you so much for stopping by and your lovely comment. i would love to join your blog hop - i'll be right over.

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  2. Your writing is so beautiful and it's like I'm watching a film..

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    1. hello hindustanka, i feel that cannot be your first name but i will greet you with it if we meet. thank you for the visiting and the very nice comment.

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  3. Oh, those crazy nekkid Swedes!

    Your opening paragraph blew me away with its wonderful turns of phrase.

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    1. dearest debra, yes there is nothing like a bunch of nekkid swedes to break down cultural barriers. thank you for being kind to me.

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  4. A wonderful post full of Life and one of its many tales. Beautifully written.

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    1. hi jeanne, thank you so much - you sweet thing.

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  5. Dear Bev, another wonderful posting. Why not send it to "The New Yorker"????? Peace.

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    1. dear dee, are you trying to give me a panic attack? the book you suggested just arrived today from amazon. i have yet found the courage to open it.
      thank you for your kindness. xx

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    2. Dear Bev, I'm so glad to learn that you ordered the book and now can read it and consider your next step. A whole world awaits your special take on life and your sense of the ridiculous. Peace.

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  6. Beautiful post, Bev! And now I understand why you say you loved strangers so. I'm glad the Swedes came home with you and not your friend. I'm not sure why, but it was a victory for you and I like it when you win.

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    1. dearest katie, trust me, i would have fought to the death to get my hands on those swedes.
      thanks for saying nice things.

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  7. glad you found me, it's very nice to find you. you have a wonderful skill in turning a phrase.

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    1. well i'm glad i found you too kat. see, we were just strangers and now we're friends.
      thank for stopping by and the nice comment.

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    1. do you have a first name icescreammama? thank you for the visit and the lovely comment

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    1. god, that's a great name. thanks for the kind words

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  10. Brilliant. Truly. I'm awed.

    Such a fascinating take on strangers. I loved every word.

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    1. oh junie, stop making me blush. thank you so much. i value your opinion and our friendship. xxx

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  11. As always, a lovely read, Bev. Love the alliteration of "stood stippy stark naked." I wish I had your memories, but your blog fills that need just fine.

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    1. dear amy, thank you for coming to call and for saying nice things. i thought everyone had my memories until i started to blog. have i told you lately that i like you?

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  12. I remember as a child my mother was a fan of Jim Reeves and one track in particular stands out in my memory called 'A Stranger's Just A Friend You Do Not Know'.

    I suppose our perception of strangers is due to past experiences. Some say it is folly to embrace a stranger without learning more about them first. If I had done this I might have saved myself some grief but conversely I would also have missed out on some wonderful experiences.

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    1. hello jp, my mother also liked jim reeves. now we have that in common. you know what they say in sweden "ingenting vågat ingenting vunnit" - nothing ventured, nothing gained
      thanks for the nice comment and for following.

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  13. Beautiful story and loved your take on meeting strangers. Happy to follow you back, too Beverly!! :)

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    1. thank you so much janine and thanks for the follow.

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  14. I loved this. Very well written. Almost lyrical in places.

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    1. hello larks, that's a very cool name. thanks for the kind words and the follow.

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  15. Bev, I love when you write. There is so much feeling, wisdom and forethought in your words.

    Thank you for giving me something of substance to read today.

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    1. dear gypsy, how are you wintering in jasper. do you see any signs of spring coming over the mountains.
      thank you for your lovely comment. you made my day.

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  16. Beautiful and refreshing Bev. So glad I found you!

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    1. i glad we found each other. you are so sweet xx

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  17. I loved this and it explained something. I was a stranger once. I arrived in the middle of winter in a small community in northern BC. I was on my way to visit my brother who lived in alnother small community some distance away. I found a (the) restaurant and sat down for a cup of tea and was immediately surrounded by a dozen people. My feeling was that they were 'hungry' to talk to me. Wanted to know who I was, where I was going, etc etc. I was not used to being a star attraction (the stranger from away) so I hope i didn't disappoint!

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    1. what a nice story francie. seeing new faces and hearing new stories is still one of my favourite things. thanks so much for taking the time to comment and share

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  18. This is some lovely writing, Bev. It's funny that I wrote a blog post this afternoon that deals with strangers, but in a very different light. I also love your photos.

    Isn't it nice of Linda to do the Monday party so we can all explore and NOT be strangers?!

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    1. hello mary, 1. thank you for the nice comment. 2. i'll be right over to read your post 3. yes, that linda is gem.

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  19. "so when i see a stranger i feel no sense of apprehension, no fear, i just see someone i haven't met. but anyway, why lead with fear - these strangers may carry with them the kindness you seek and the stories you have not yet heard......." That's it...that's the true essence of a stranger. I bow down to you, my friend.

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    1. annie my friend, you have made my week. i adore your writing and i truly appreciate your comment.

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  20. I enjoyed this post, strangers can become friends so easy yeah some can seem scary at first but many if they are given the chance they may turn out not so scary at all.....

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    1. hello jo-anne, i thought i had lost you but here you are. just think of a stranger as one of those surprise grab bags. you may or may not like what you get, but it was fun opening it. thanks so much for stopping by and commenting.

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  21. as always...your story leaves me wanting more. :0) my mother was one who would talk to anyone and as a teen it embarrased me. now that I am older and mom is gone, I find myself talking to anyone and everyone. I do enjoy when you talk to us...
    Debbi
    -yankeeburrowcreations

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    1. dear debbi, thank you for that, i appreciate that. my mother tells anyone and everyone her operations stories. it is lovely to feel comfortable to talk to others.
      thanks again for the wonderful comment.

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  22. Your stories are always a welcomed morning read over my sacred first cup of coffee.

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    1. ah candace you're so sweet. thanks for stopping by.

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  23. Your writing about the wonderfully strange is always strangely wonderful...as, I'm sure, are you. :)

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    1. i am sure you yourself are strangely wonderful and that is why we are like two peas in a pod. xx

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  24. so lovely... thank you for stopping by. here from the hop!

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    1. thank you liz and thanks for stopping here.

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    1. hi colleen, thanks for the visit and follow

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  26. Appreciate this post. Let me try it out.

    Visit my web-site ... http://www.youtube.Com/watch?v=LBifqDaKZEQ

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    1. oh my god anon, you're back or is it you my little cross-dressing friend. do i dare click the link? will my mac explode?
      i'm tempted - and i'm going do it
      anon, now your all manly and into tanks. who are you?

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  27. My Grandpa always said he'd never met a stranger. It took me years (and a move to the Big City) to understand that.
    I think I just uncovered one of tha MANY reasons I adore you so much...we may have grown up in very different areas, but I think my Grandpa must have had the soul of one of your Villagers and he passed a bit of it on to me.
    I read your memories and I WANT to be standing beside you on that shore. Scratch that...I AM standing beside you on that shore and for the time it taakes to read, I'm so very happy and at home.
    Thank you for that. *hugs*

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    1. oh jesus chris, you're going to make me cry. can you imagine us both standing on that beach - we'd be in a fist fight over the swede.
      i absolutely adore you and all the support you have shown me. xxx

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  28. I was raised in relative sollitude in the cornfields of Indiana. Strangers were not only suspect, but stayed strangers forever. I'm trying to teach my children to see new people as you did growing up, as potentially intereesting new friends.

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    1. hello christina, i understand that a bit now that i live on the prairies. the farms are so far apart and people don't see that much of each other. where i grew up the houses were all clustered together by the ocean. i think living that way made us all eager to see new faces. i wish you success. thanks so much for the lovely comment and for following.

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  29. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. why? did you say something dirty?

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    2. Actually wrote so fast that, wrong words in the wrong order, with wrong spelling etc etc etc. Not pretty, or useful... Story of my life!

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  30. Bev in my father's village of Advocate Harbour there was Sammy the Crow Catcher, Toad Barry, Scuffy, and a litany of other characters. Small as it was, you never heard anyone ever speak ill about other residents. They laughed at each other for the most part. They lived between the forest, farm and ocean. No cash, but heat in the stove, food and warm clothes. They waved at everyone who drove by as if they had known them for years. But strangers were like gold - everybody wanted a piece of them if you could get them cornered long enough. Time to be heard, time to share and hear news from 'outside.' Time to understand and measure the true sense of community. Hope you are well!

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    1. dear mark, in our village there was a man named friday. who pushed his wheelbarrow to the store every saturday for groceries. there was little willie who had over 100 cats and many other strange and wonderous people. i learned early on that these people were not wrong, just different. no one ever tried to change them, they were us and we were them. as well as strangers we would all get pretty worked up when someone received a parcel from family who lived away.
      i want you to know that the "you're so friendly, you're stupid" line is the funniest thing i have read in a long time. as my mother would say "i near pissed meself". i hope you are well

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  31. Your words all (((((resonate))))) with me Bev! :)

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  32. What a wonderfully written, delightful, and thoroughly entertaining piece. The voice of Beverly the child filtered perfectly through the voice of Beverly the adult. I could picture you, your mother and your village in exquisite detail. I loved every word. Good writing is such a joy to read. I'll be sharing this one.

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    1. god jayne, what a lovely comment. thank you so much for taking the time to visit. i'm a big fan of yours.

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  33. This left me feeling all warm and fuzzy, thank you :)

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    1. thank you jen you just compared me to good medication and i love and appreciate that in a big way. :)

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  34. I'm captivated by your story and the style of your writing. Thanks so much for the follow. I'll be following you as well. :)

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    1. why thank you, melinda collazo. you are a sweetheart. thanks for the visit and the follow

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  35. You make a very good point about how most of us live our lives in fear.

    Following you back
    http://dustykatt.blogspot.ca/

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    1. hello dusty katt, i'm trying not to type dirty pussy but i'm losing. thank you for visiting and following. sorry to joke about your name. :)

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  36. Bev,
    Hope you don't mind me nominating you for a Sunshine Award. Head on over and check it out when you have time.

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    1. annie, i am delighted to be nominated for anything. i am especially delighted it came from you. thanks so much xxx

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  37. Hello, after reading this remarkable post i am too happy to share my know-how here with colleagues.



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  38. Ah bev,
    love your style, & the meeting of the umbrellas on the beach.

    Those were the days; no fear. Playing football in the street with strangers in the depth of darkness on warm summer nights.

    But it's not always the ones you hold close that cause the most harm. I'm thinking it's the closest that COULD cause the most harm.
    Cheers, ic

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  39. Oh I love this! Great post and a very enjoyable read. I'm your newest follower!

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  40. Love this little tale! So rich with a sense of place. I agree with Chris ... would loved to have experienced a sense of community like this.

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