Favourite spots

Semi-weekly columnist examines what it is that makes a preferred hang out

People do have their favourite spots in this world of ours. Sometimes these places are exotic, but often they are simply ordinary. Usually, these favourite locations are getaways of some sort.

Friends of mind speak about a special beach in Aruba, a picnic spot along the Bow River near Calgary, or a lovely desert golf-course outside Phoenix. Others recall a sandy camping spot along the western shores of Slocan Lake or an open vista at the end of a hard trail-climb in the Rockies. Some simply say “It’s my den or my sewing room.”

I’ve loved many similar spots and have momentarily called such places “my favourite.” However, like my mother who was happiest in her garden beginning immediately as she stepped into the backyard, my favourite spot is nearby, too. I am most comfortable sitting on my back deck, looking over my yard, watching the leaves burst and fall, and contemplating life’s mysteries—both happy and sad.

We’ve lived in a big old house in Castlegar for 30 some years, and we’ve had four deck surfaces to deal with in that time. We’ve always enjoyed the deck as a place to be, even when it was leaking or crumbling.

Finally, we tore the deck up and built a new one with new supports, new plywood floor, and a new Duradeck surface. Because we spend most of our summer spare-time on this deck, we blew the budget and built it to last.

No matter the condition of the deck, it was an astonishing place to have tea with one’s wife, to barbecue with the family, or to hold court with friends. For years, my friend Jim Chapman came over three times a week for a cup of tea and a chance to dissect the world’s problems. Sometimes, we’d look up from our arguing and realize it was one o’clock in the morning and the moon was already waning.

Other times, couple-friends lazed around with us at the glass-topped table under the protective overhead umbrella.  We’d be sipping a good wine, laughing and telling jokes when a rain squall would blow in. But we huddled closer, waited out the storm, and then brought out another bottle of wine—the air cooler but the friendship still warm.

But mostly the deck is my spot—especially late at night. Long after everyone is asleep and the lights are all off, I tuck into my favourite deck chair with its cushions. I’m keen about the moon sliding across the sky and disappearing behind wispy clouds. I’m fascinated by the stars and spend hours charting them.   At odd times, I’ve noted satellites trailing across the sky and meteorites blazing in downward dying arcs. Many times I’ve solved the work-a-day problems I’ve been faced with and come up with strategies for my college work or my political life. Even in winter, occasionally I bundle up and watch the lights reflect off my neighbour’s tiny outdoor rink.

We all need to slow down and take more time in this helter-skelter world to rest and get away from things. To do so, we may have to stay away from the television, limit our time on the Internet, and never let our cell phone-texting devices get control of us. Maybe we need to spend time at our favourite spots more often.

Now that I’m near retirement, I hope to log more time out on my deck, contemplating the universe—or whatever.