Saturday, May 10, 2014

This Week in Havre, With Me and “Cupcake”

This Week in Havre, With Me and “Cupcake”
            This morning I walked into the Grateful Bread and asked Rick if I could hog a table and sit a spell with my computer, hoping to get inspiration for my article. Cinnamon rolls, hot out of the oven made my mouth water. In the few minutes it took me to get my computer and return, the rolls had disappeared. Does that say anything about how inspirational are the cinnamon rolls at the Grateful Bread, warm from the oven, drizzled with brown sugar. 

            But, hey, a cookie, generous with butter and chocolate chips is equal to the job. Ask my mouth. 

            The wind blew me into Havre, where I knew I could mooch on good friends, Dick and Jane. A few weeks ago we had a scare when Dick suffered a stroke. Thanks to the VA doctors here, in Helena and in Denver, with equal measures to Dick’s willingness to do the hard work of therapy, he is recovering, getting stronger. This is not to slight Jane’s good care. She and I have had conversations in the past where we agreed that neither of us is nurse material. Jane is a saint in my eyes, despite her wee lie. She is an excellent nurse. She disagrees. “I’m too impatient. I just do what’s in front of me to do.”

            Kris, at the High Plains Gallery and Frame Shop in the Atrium, headed my long list of people to see. I first knew Kris’s mother-in-law, Anne Shaw, founder of the Book Exchange. I felt personally devastated when I learned the book store was closed. I wanted to jump right in and take it over. Sadly, a book store will not flourish when open only during summertime, especially if run by someone with her nose in a book, reading all the merchandise before it hits the shelf. And having experienced winter in sub-tropical climes, I would not flourish in another Montana winter. I have a trunk full of great ideas that won’t work. 

            Kris hinted, rumor has it, maybe (see how I hedge my bets), just maybe (hold your breath), some crazed book lover (cross your fingers) may come forth to rescue the bookstore. Maybe a co-op of local writers and readers. I cannot imagine Havre, nay, the whole of north-central Montana, without a book store.

            Yesterday, after missing him at his office six times, I finally saw Clay Vincent on the street. Clay is Hill County Sanitarian, a job which covers a lot of territory. “Clay, you’re on my list of people to see. I really miss the Unified Landfill Board meetings.”

            “If you miss those meetings,” Clay replied, “you must be crazy.” Surely he didn’t mean it, me crazy? Ah, well, maybe so. Define the term. 

            Of all my jobs when I was on City Council in Harlem, I liked Landfill Board best. The board is composed mostly of men who have to get back into the field to tend crops or watch clouds. Meetings are no nonsense. If a new truck is needed, those men understand. They compare specs and make a decision. Things get done.

            I popped up the stairway for a brief visit with Paul Tuss at Bear Paw Development. Paul asked, “Didn’t I see you driving a van painted like, uh, like . . .”

            “A cupcake, “I suggested. “That was me.”

            Driving a van which looks like a cupcake makes me anything but anonymous. At times I feel notorious. Strangers grin, wave and outright laugh at me. My intention was to paint a basket weave design to cover my obsolete business logo. My design sort of got out of hand, took off on its own. But it looks bright and cheerful. If you missed me, I’ll be back in August. 

            Wherever I went this week, I serendipitously found friends and acquaintances. Post office. Bank. The Glass Works for chip repair. The Amtrak office to buy a ticket for this summer. The Havre Daily for a good visit with Pam. A long awaited luncheon, promised for months, with John Kelleher, for stimulating conversation. He brought me up to date on regional happenings. 

            Why is it that when one leaves and returns, the only thing important is time spent with friends?

            Next week I’ll be back in Mexico, basking in the sun, finally thawing my cold bones. I’ll see familiar faces in my neighborhood, acquaintances. Some of them may become friends eventually. Friends take time. Friends make my life rich. See you later this summer, my friend. Meanwhile, I’ll write. 

Sondra Ashton
HDN: Looking out my back door
April 24, 2014

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