Serendipity 101: life at Coffee Cup University
COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Life is beautiful at Cochrane's Coffee Cup U. Take this morning, for instance.
I arrived at my balcony table at Coffee Traders around 10.
A table away, my cattleman friend Hamish an avid reader of Jung and strategist of goodwill between the petroleum and agriculture industries was busy writing. I figured I'd do the same. So I got out a sheet of paper to make a start on this week's column, when. . .
Bob, a retired air-traffic dispatcher, pulled up a chair at my table and showed me a book he was reading on economic issues facing Canada's First Nations. We were just getting into a discussion on obstacles to bridge-building between First Nations and non-First Nations communities, when. . .
Christa arrived. Christa's a science writer/editor and educator with a flair for rugged outdoor living. Today her mind was on architecture environmentally friendly architecture , but where was Heinz? She left as quickly as she came. Bob and I had just returned to our discussion of inter-community bridge-building, when. . .
Hamish couldn't stand being isolated at his table any longer, closed his notebook, and joined Bob and me. Together, we talked of the time a few years ago when Henry Holloway, then-chief of the Chiniki Band of the Stoney First Nation, told a Cochrane gathering that folks at Morley and Cochrane should do like the old-timers used to do and think of each other as wîchastabi, and not as Indians or White people to think of each other merely as human beings. We were just wrapping up the story, when. . .
Christa returned. We were beginning to chat about this Friday evening's Cochrane Ideas Society topic, "Big-box Retailing vs. Small-town Business" (All Saints Anglican Church hall, 7 p.m.), when. . .
Heinz came through the door, grabbed a coffee, and joined us. Heinz has had many years of consulting experience with World Bank projects overseas. He and Christa moved to an adjoining table and were in the midst of discussing one of Christa's project ideas, when. . .
Patti and Sue stuck their heads above the stairwell. Seeing we had Patti's husband Hamish engaged in some pretty serious talk, they decided joining us was easier than pulling Hamish away. Patti is a crackerjack life skills coach, a true artist at evoking the beauty in people's hearts. Her friend Sue is an artist, too; she evokes the beauty in wax and plaster in preparation for casting replicas of ancient artifacts. Sue and Bob connected immediately. They were just getting into their mutual love of woodcarvings, when. . .
Ian placed his cup on our table. Ian is an artist, too in silver. His forged bracelets and necklaces have won the admiration of many because of their sensuous simplicity. He also loves the romantic simplicity of Wendell Berry's poetry and introduced me to his works a year ago. Ian was just opening a book, when. . .
Derek, retired Anglican rector, pulled up a chair. We asked him how his plans for a "St. Paddy's Day" celebration were coming, and he quickly responded that no self-respecting Irishman which he indubitably is would ever refer to St. Patrick in such a flippant way. The genial "curmudgeon" was handing me an article on rethinking theology, when. . .
Mary Anna came through the door, passed up the coffee, and hurried upstairs. I could tell by my wife's smiling-but-determined look that I would not get the reprieve that Hamish had received. She and I had preparations to make for the evening. Serendipity 101, for my part, was over for the day. We were just about to leave, when. . .
A woman none of us had met yet caught my attention. She was sitting by herself at a table across the balcony. I couldn't resist going over, introducing myself, and inviting her, too, to enjoy the companionship of the "Coffee Cup University of Cochrane" one of the finest roundtables of learning I've ever experienced.
© 2002 Warren Harbeck