Shades of Summer

A few days ago I met Cam Webber for an after-work drink at the Roadhouse. Cam is a gravedigger for the City of Whitehorse, and had already set up camp with a couple of colleagues under a patio umbrella when I traipsed in.

The sun shone down uninhibited by clouds, warming both our bodies and spirits. We chatted about bear attacks, wolf encounters, the merits of Quebec City vs. Montreal, Oktoberfest, and our plans for the summer.

I boringly reported a lack of itinerary. Time lazily drifted passed us.

The sun, too, drifted — and to my surprise it descended below the edge of the umbrella, raining its rays upon us.

Being outdoor workers, my table companions were prepared, each wearing shades; being myself, I was unprepared — no sunglasses on my person.

Worse still, I was facing west-ish. Soon I was holding my hand perpendicular to my forehead in the manner made famous by distance-gazing explorers. Still, it was squint-city, and I was having trouble seeing anything through the glare.

East-facing Josie — surname a mystery — recognized my predicament and kindly handed me her specs.

But these were no ordinary shades; on a colour scale they existed somewhere between phlox and orchid.

Inevitably I went inside to relieve myself, and in my absence Cam started a campaign to let me keep her sunglasses.

When I returned, he explained his reasons:

“Josie’s got a face that fits a lot of different glasses, but you’ve got kind of a blockish head. Its not every day a pair of sunglasses fits a blockhead like you.”

Thanks Cam.

But in his insightful yet insulting way, he did have a point; they fit like a glove.

Cam brokered the deal, but before it was made official he expressed serious concerns about my apathetic attitude towards summer living.

“If Josie gives you her shades you have no excuse for not having a great summer. In fact, if you don’t make something of yourself by September I think you should have to give them back.”

These seemed like reasonable terms to me, and Josie agreed to them non-verbally — by leaving the table, paying her bill, and exiting the bar without collecting her glasses from the bridge of my nose; they were mine.

At their very best, the items you own have special meaning attached to them — an old watch your grandfather gave to you; a fishing rod with which you caught your first salmon; the Family Guy DVD you watched four night a week during college.

Now I have a pair of sunglasses that reminds me Yukon summers are fleeting and should never be taken for granted. Now I have no excuse for living an uninspired existence during the sunlight season.

Thank you Josie; I won’t let you, or your shades, down.

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