Years ago I wrote a column in the Herald. Now seems like a good time to resurrect this effort.
What changed? I have changed, aged. There is no downside, as it is preferable to the other option, not aging. The change also includes retirement, moving to a small village, Laird, an hour from Prince Albert.
Recently, someone suggested that I apply for a pastor’s position in a church in a major Canadian city. My ego liked it a lot. I thought about it.
The whimsical welding project that has kept me on my toes for the past year is created with metal salvaged from the remains of the oil fields. In my zeal to polish the stems slowly sinking into the tall grass, deeply pitted with rust, I chain the twenty-five-foot sections behind my ATV and take them for a brisk two-mile run down a dirt road. gravel. The neighbors smile and greet me and think I’m smart, I’m pretty sure. Do major Canadian cities have gravel roads? Would I be considered smart?
There is a thing, entering its third year here in Laird, where young boys are recycling old lawnmower tractors, preparing them and using them to drive around our village. A dad from the end of the street passes by. It has a small snowblower engine, with handlebars and wheels. Could I build a hitch so he could tow a wagon? Shortly after, Holly reports seeing this contraption, loaded with boys, hurtling down the main street at its top speed of about 0.8 mph, as cars patiently drive around it. I haven’t had my turn yet. Could I drive 0.8 km/h through equally patient traffic in a major Canadian city?
While I was on my driveway building something, a class of fifth graders walked down my street, on a nature hike. I heard a voice say, “Mr. Harris, can I go say hello to my opa?” Mr. Harris replied, “Let’s all say hello to opa!” I was quickly surrounded by students, posing questions, needing demonstrations. One girl observed, “You have a lot of holes in your shirt! Another silenced her, ‘That’s rude!’
The local general store is also the post office. One day, while receiving the mail, we find a small bag in our box, with some coins and a note. “You bought bananas and right after that we lowered the price. Here is the difference. The change counts as $1.63. Would Canadian urban department stores show this kind of scrupulous concern for their customers?
An extended family member who lives in our town spent several months in the hospital. As we check on their residence, do summer chores, do some repairs, a neighbor across the street appears. “How can I help?” I offer a suggestion, and although he’s a professional person with a program to follow, he’s there immediately, tools in hand. Her children show up on weekends to mow the grass. How would this story be told in a major Canadian city?
There are, I suppose, pros and cons to living in a small hamlet, where everyone knows everyone else’s business. Little “pre-tractor” age boys and girls pedal or run down the middle of the street, wave and shout greetings. Adults stop to examine what’s on my welding table, to anxiously discuss the drought, to speak proudly of a son who will be playing junior football a few provinces down the road, to worry about his he will be fine. Other neighbors bring produce from the garden, cinnamon buns. The insurance agency wife is thrilled that I have a 58-year-old truck being restored.
The ebb and flow of Laird becomes a place to live a healthy community. As I rejoice in the many benefits, as I feel the sense of healthy spirituality, as I feel the simple determination to live well together, it is something about God.
I think I will stay.
Ed Olmert has been a farmer, welder, truck driver, underground miner, heavy equipment operator and preacher. He’s currently rebuilding a 58-year-old truck and doing what he calls “fancy welding” as well as hands-on welding. He’s still writing and traveling preaching, and like many, he’s still trying to perfect the partner, father, opa thing.