Two raspberry chocolate creams for my Valentine

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, February 13, 2002

"Two raspberry creams after Friday dinner became our little way of saying, 'I love you.'"

I finish sipping my usual half-cup of java at Cochrane Coffee Traders and excuse myself from the balcony table where I've been enjoying another great conversation with some of you coffee companions. I head downstairs, past the always-delightful serving staff, out the door, and across the street toward Jailhouse Candies.

The time has come to perform a romantic Friday ritual that has helped keep the sweetness in my marriage for many years.

It all started in the late 1980s while Mary Anna and I were sojourning in the Edmonton area. We had taken leave of the beautiful Bow River valley for what we thought would be just a few months – but what turned into nine wonderful years in the North Saskatchewan River valley city.

Mary Anna was teaching at a school west of Edmonton. I, in addition to my on-going work in Stoney linguistics and Scripture translation, was lecturing in religious studies.

I was also getting my feet wet as a columnist.

Writing a weekly column – known back then as Coffee Cup Meanderings – disciplined me into a distinctly pleasant routine. Saturday to Thursday I visited as many coffee shops as my other activities allowed.

Total strangers welcomed me to their tables and honoured me with their wit and wisdom. Some shared their struggles to find meaning in life. Others spoke of their delight in the night sky or at refraction of light through a glass of water. Many of my new coffee companions even permitted me to share their stories through the column.

(My experience with the series soon convinced me there are few finer ways to get acquainted with a community than to celebrate in ink the people who are its life. This is a practice I have tried to continue back here in the Morley-Cochrane area through this newspaper, and by Internet around the world.)

Friday morning was the publishing deadline for the column. All the rest of the week built up to that morning, and it was always such a relief to receive the editor's approval upon reading my ramblings. I really came to appreciate the meaning of TGIF.

Friday afternoon was time out. And what did I do?

You guessed it. I went to another coffee shop. But by force of habit, week after week it turned out to be the same coffee shop, actually a little French café at West Edmonton Mall, at that time the world's largest indoor shopping facility.

There I made more friends, some of whom have continued as coffee companions to this day, and you too have met them through their contributions to this column.

After coffee one Friday afternoon while window-shopping at the mall, I came across a candy store that carried very addictive raspberry creams. Now, our budget didn't have a line for candy, but I really wanted to share this tasty discovery with Mary Anna.

So, I bought just two of the raspberry creams. I took them home and carefully hid them till we had finished dessert. Then I surprised her with the creams.

She was pleased. (But looking back over the years, I think she'd have been more pleased with a beautiful red rose – no calories, and it lasts longer!)

However that may be, I went back the following Friday and bought another pair of raspberry creams – and the following Friday as well, and pretty much every Friday since then at various stores around the province.

Two raspberry creams after Friday dinner became our little way of saying, "I love you."

Meanwhile, back here in Cochrane, Joan Tunney and Shirley Galbraith of Jailhouse Candies have already seen me coming. As I walk through the door, they're placing two raspberry creams on the scale.

"You're a little early today," Shirley says.

"Yup," I say. "Guess I'm just eager to get started on my Valentine's Day column."

I pay for my purchase, then step through the doorway to say hello to Tammy Dermann, owner of Mulberries Flowers and Gifts.

For this occasion I pick up a beautiful red rose, as well.

© 2002 Warren Harbeck

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