It's Now What You Do, But How You Play

A couple of Saturdays ago, Leeroy Stagger and the Wildflowers played The Art Station as the last stop on their national tour. I dragged out a friend who’s been housebound for several months with the promise of great music. Leeroy did not disappoint and the small crowd kept him going for a good half an hour, maybe 45 minutes after his ‘last song’.

After the show the audience and band stood around the gallery outside the theatre talking for a bit. As The Arts Station action wound down, a few of us unlocked our bikes and rode over to the Brickhouse. Happy Feet Howe (who ??) was playing, so naturally we thought we’d continue this evening of music with more music and a late night bite to eat. It was maybe 10 o’clock, the sky held a clear late summer evening light. The sun dropped below the mountains, but every detail stood clear. The early evening chill was just breaking the edge off the day’s heat. One of the first ‘hot’ days of the year.

At first we sat outside and then, just before 10:30, with our food coming up, we moved inside to find a seat.

The Brick was crowded. We walked toward the back and the last tall table in the corner. In March, my friend bounced off a rather hard tree and now sports a titanium rod in her femur. Still not too agile after only three months of rehab and a little uncomfortable on hard surfaces, she pointed to the second booth and the couple sitting snuggled in the back of it.

“They’re only two of them, let’s ask if we can join them.”

Boldly, much bolder than myself, she walked over and invited us into their booth.

Naturally, we started talking. They were visiting from Calgary. Their first trip to Fernie. A lark. Heard about it from a skiing friend on the island. Stunned would best describe their experience. They’d walked around town. Hiked along the river. Played tennis at James White Park.

“Great courts. And free.”

They commented on the trails on the dyke along the river, around town and leading into the mountains. We talked about the Nordic Society and the trails they maintain in the winter. We talked about mountain biking. Fishing. Hiking. About winters. Skiing. Snowboarding. Telemarking and back country skiing. We talked about the transition from winter to summer and back again. How this is a slow time.

They looked in disbelief around the Brick. “Slow? What do people do for work?”

“Any three jobs they can cobble together to stay in town,” and we laughed.

“Seriously? “

“Seriously. There are few skilled jobs, but most people make their own work. There are opportunities at the mines, but in town, you make your own way.”

They were both geologists, career oriented and wondering about the options at the mines. “Go to and check it out.”

“We will.”

The conversation moved to what we did before moving to Fernie and our lives then and now. We talked about living in Fernie. Our day, that day. A little work. A long mountain bike ride. A concert, late dinner and more music. And the ride planned for the next day.

We talked about how it is easy to meet folks in town. (By this time, the little cozy booth had filled with other locals looking for a soft spot to land. A landscaper, a hotel manager, a bartender and I can’t remember who else.) We all ski together in the winter, but pursue different paths in the summer and don’t spend as much time together. We would see each other on a trail, or in Overwaitea, or in the Brick late at night.

We talked about our different summer pursuits and the wide variety of options in town. Our Calgary Couple commented on the how the groups seemed to be ‘activity” oriented. Pausing, we nodded. “Yes.”

And looking around the table, we all came to the simple realization - we are how we play.

That’s just Fernie.