Didja Go Anywhere This Summer?

The gift of staying put and letting the world come to you

Dennis and Nancy stopped in Smithers on their return from a trip to Alaska. At the local farmers’ market, they picked up a cup of Doug’s Special Blend coffee, and struck up a conversation. They asked Doug and his wife, Betty if “they had a church.” Doug, a retired Anglican priest, had a suggestion for Sunday worship. Thus, we met Dennis and Nancy the next morning at St. James Anglican Church in Smithers, B.C.

Monday morning Dennis and Nancy stopped in and we spent a delightful two hours with fellow gardeners wandering around our yard. While drinking a more plebeian coffee than Doug’s, we learned that Dennis and Nancy had lived in Atlanta, Georgia, and now were living in Burnsville, North Carolina. They told us about their late spring frosts (June 1) and hot, hot summers, about trout fishing in the Appalachians, Dennis’s volunteer work in maintaining a section of the Appalachian trail, about bears in the yard and about their United Methodist congregation.

Didja go anywhere this summer? No, but North Carolina came to us.

A birthday party
Charlotte’s parents own the ranch next to our farm. Their grandchildren, visiting from New Zealand, came over to our farm to pick flowers, to eat peas and raspberries. Later, one of the children invited me to her fifth birthday party. Charlotte’s husband Dean and the rest of us socialized and talked about school (Montessori), rugby, gardening and Kiwi culture.

Didja go anywhere this summer? No, but New Zealand came to us.

Betsey checked the mail and we received something of a rarity these days: a postcard (not a text, post or Instagram), handwritten, in fountain pen. The photo was of ripe bakeapples (a delicious berry) and the note came from Keagan, long-time young friend of ours who was visiting Fogo Island, Newfoundland.

I actually have been to St. John’s, Newfoundland, but not this summer, and never to Fogo Island, but a small part of it came to me through Keagan.

Phone calls
“Hello? Is this Curt Gesch?” (Yes.) “This is a blast from the past: it’s Jake Vriend calling and we’re near a place called Topley and haven’t really seen you since 1968 at Trinity Christian College and wonder if we could drop in.” (Yes.) “We have our daughter and her husband and their five children with us. Sarah’s husband is Aron Zuidhof, who grew up in Smithers and you may have taught him. Could their family stop in, too?” (Yes.)

After a time of picking peas, eating raspberries and looking at flowers, the Zuidhof family left to visit friends from Smithers; Jake and Minke Vriend stayed for a long while, talking of old friends, current occupations (retirement is a demanding job), the state of Ontario, schools and deciding where to plunk ourselves down for our golden years.  

Chatham, Chicago, Vermont and London (Ontario) came to us.

Our new Anglican priest, the Rev. Wilfred Alero, wife Diana, and their children – John, Mark and Nicanor – came by only a week or so after arriving in Smithers from Homa Bay, Kenya. They looked at the garden, the children picked fruit, peas and beans. Wilfred took a drive on our Kubota – I think he covets it! We learned about foods they eat in Kenya, life in a city and growing food on a small farm (shamba), and about worship in Anglican churches there.

Kenya came to us this summer.

“Well I never been to heaven,” as the old song goes, “but I been to Oklahoma.”

Better: “Well I never been to heaven / But I have a farm in Telkwa.”

Better yet: “Well I never been to heaven / But I met the folks who live there.”


  • Curt Gesch and his wife lead the singing via Zoom for a combined service of small United Church congregations in central B.C. each Sunday morning. In the afternoon, they lead a Friends and Family Zoom worship from their home. If you'd like to join that service, please write Curt at moc.liamg@36hcsegc.

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