Readers respond to columns on area’s harmonious heritage

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, August 20, 2015

“Maybe the secret is that a place and its people are in harmony.” —Marlis McDouall, Cochrane

Hard to believe that we’re already approaching the end of summer holidays and school is about to begin again for another year. But what a summer it has been, from hot and stormy, to beautiful gardens, to nostalgic memories from years gone by, to a new town park about to open.

Our readers have certainly made my summer very special with all your great responses to this series on our area’s natural and human heritage. For this week’s column, I thought I’d share a few of them.

Our JULY 9 COLUMN, “Cochrane, nature-loving community of funky folks in harmony,” featured Leo Peters’ poetic tribute to our town as a place with “friendly people everywhere full of love who really care” amidst “hanging baskets full of flowers, songbirds singing by the hours.”

As if to place an exclamation point on that, Rebecka Freels, a member of our town’s communications team, spoke excitedly about our soon-to-open Riverfront Park. (More about that in a minute).

It reminded Marlis McDouall, of Cochrane, why she fell in love with our town 20 years ago. Indeed, she responded, “maybe the secret is that a place and its people are in harmony.”

Our JULY 23 COLUMN, “A butterfly’s eye view of a dishwasher’s floral reward,” honoured my wife’s colourful garden contribution to that harmony, especially as I have the privilege of enjoying it while washing dishes. (Happy birthday, Mary Anna!)

Responding all the way from Mumbai, India, our most distant coffee companion Raj Patwardhan wrote:

“I am reminded of the words of a surgeon who presided over a function to commemorate individuals and groups who do a great service to the people by donating blood. After he presented the mementos to the recipients, he said something like, ‘As I shook hands with all of you, I felt blessed because it felt like I was touching the butterflies and while doing so some of their colours my hands now wear.’”

Our JULY 30 COLUMN, “Clouds over Cochrane evoke hit parade of memorable songs,” certainly evoked some inspiring words from you about sky and emotions.

Alluding to the musical memory-lane quiz with which I’d opened, several readers spoke about the inspiration they receive through these columns: “You never know, dear, how much I love you, please don’t take my sunshine away!”

And rain or shine, our readers are an optimistic bunch. Photo-essayist Jack Blair, of Cochrane, reminded us of the lyrics to another great old-time song: “Beyond the blue horizon waits a beautiful day.”

Our AUG. 6 COLUMN, “Angus MacKenzie sketches his love for Cochrane heritage,” picked up on the human imprint on our landscape.

“This column is especially delightful,” wrote Cyndie Baum, a familiar face around town. “It speaks to me as an artist, and as someone who carries a passion for keeping memories alive, especially those that bear the footprint of who we are and what we have become.

“For me it's my grandmother's table; we eat from it every day. It's the hutch from my grandfather's sister, and within its very heart lies simple dishes and silver, cherished pieces that were held by past generations of family. It's my dad's Bible with his scribbling and underlining of verses that touched his life and his ministry. This is all so very dear to me and to who I am! 

“Angus’s sketches, the conversation, these are the foundations of our uniqueness, identity, and who we are as a town. 

“I like that! Thank you for helping us remember!”

And finally there was our AUG. 13 COLUMN, “Readers celebrate mindfulness to God, nature and humanity,” featuring sky photos by Gary Kooistra and a poem by Lee-ann Harder.

 “Such beauty in colour and such beauty in mindfulness!” Oakville, Ont. reader Helen Hare, who just celebrated her 92nd birthday, responded.

“I found a great deal of beauty in the hospital room which I shared with a wonderful young 56-year-old woman paralysed from waist, in a week of talking to her, experiencing her strength of character, her courage and the sweetness of  her faith and endurance. She is married and has three grown daughters and is awaiting another surgery. After my time with her, I feel her faith and mindfulness; I have a lesson to learn about mindfulness.”

And now back to the grand opening of our town’s much-anticipated RIVERFRONT PARK, harmonious meeting place of our natural and human heritage.

The opening ceremonies are set for Saturday, Aug. 29, at 2:20 pm, west of the intersection of Highway 22 and Griffin Road (west of the boat launch). Events include First Nations blessing and dancers, guided nature walks and interpretive talks – a memorable way for families to wrap up this memorable summer.


© 2015 Warren Harbeck

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