Winter snap can't dim spring's regeneration

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, April 9, 2003

Boy, after last week's column, do I ever have egg on my face! Or should I say, snow on my face? The very day my welcome-back-springtime words came off the press, winter returned with a vengeance.

Which came as quite a shock to Calgary writer Helen Corbett. "I have just returned from two weeks in Mexico," she wrote, "and wonder if I stumbled into a fantasy column. Spring? Where??!!"

But, Helen, it truly was Boreas' swansong.

Swansong? What better evidence do we need than the word just in from Mitzi Watts at Ghost Lake Village?

"Warren, the swans are back," she said excitedly over the phone. And not only that, the pussy willows are fully out now, and the ice on the Bow has broken up almost to "the Rock," where the river widens to form Ghost Lake before it continues its eastward flow through the True North resplendent in spring.

So, bye-bye, Winter; nice try!

Meanwhile, another coffee companion with deep roots in the Bow Valley wrote all the way from Hawaii where he is the staff news reporter/photographer for Maui Weekly. Cort Gallup must have been a bit homesick after reading last week's column, because he rearranged several key words from it to create a burst of poetry:

WARREN, THANK YOU for reminding me what spring is: Gophers, pussy willows, crocuses and geese; bluebirds, robins, tulips, and peace.
—Cort Gallup, Maui

I wrote to Cort and asked him what spring was like where he is. He responded:

"Spring here is very subtle. The plumeria trees flower and grow back their leaves. The waves on the south shore grow and they get smaller on the north shore (still big). And one very obvious sign of spring are the big purple trees everywhere upcountry where I live – the jacaranda are in bloom. Otherwise, everything is pretty much the same as it is all year, to tell you the truth – hot and sunny."

"Hot and sunny" also describes the experience of spring for our Caribbean coffee companion Jack Popjes. Writing from Trinidad, he said: "We enjoy the blue sky, the hazy hills in the distance, the heat of the sun as it comes up, the green everywhere and the colorful bougainvilleas with every shade between red and yellow."

Jack also appreciated the emphasis in last week's column on peace and love. He said it reminded him of something Mother Teresa wrote:

"To show great love for God and our neighbor, we need not do great things. It is how much love we put in the doing that makes our offering something beautiful for God."

Which brings me to RCMP Sgt. Mike O'Rielly:

WARREN, THANKS for the messages of hope. There is good in the human race for the large part. The problem seems to be that we need some sort of major impetus, a superordinate cause as it is put in conflict theory, for more than one person at a time to buy into and apply the concepts of peace and goodwill, rather than giving in to the personal drives of power, insecurity, need and other internal motivators, often at the cost of the larger society.

Maybe human development means the bringing of the good in each of us to the forefront, rather than leaving it buried amongst daily pressures until something really BIG hits us. We have a long way to go, but at least we are working towards some semblance of human accomplishment that works for the many, not primarily the few.

Some thoughts on a snowy spring afternoon.
—Mike O'Rielly, Cochrane

Speaking of bringing the good in each of us to the forefront, congratulations are in order for Mike. He has just been promoted to conflict resolution coordinator for his division. But I report this with some sadness, for his promotion means that he and his wonderful family will be relocating to Edmonton.

We raise our cups in a toast to you, Mike. Best wishes for your continued work in improving our quality of life.

© 2003 Warren Harbeck

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