COUNTRY LIFE IN BC • AUGUST 2019 Romance is in the air, for all but the Hendersons

When we left off last time, Birdie Wissel had whisked Deborah off to the spa with a plan to reinvigorate the Henderson marriage. On the

with her wardrobe. Meanwhile, 200 yards away,


Chronicles by BOB COLLINS

home front, Newt Pullman had plans of his own as he and Susan agreed to an outing. Rural Redemption, part 113, continues ...

Susan watched Newt and

Rocky retrace their steps until they were out of sight in the woods beyond the truck garden. She resumed weeding the flower beds and began pondering what she would wear to a picnic with Newton Pullman. She was fretting her way through every possible wardrobe option for the third time when she stopped weeding and a small smile wrinkled the corners of her mouth. “What’s this all about,

Susan?” she thought. “It’s a senior citizen’s picnic, for heaven’s sake, not the high school prom!” She weeded on for another

hour. Thoughts of the picnic and what she would wear whirled in a great cerebral eddy with Newt Pullman at its centre. She admonished herself several times and tried to concentrate on the weeds but there was no quelling the thoughts of Newt and the picnic, or the giddy flutter in her stomach.

She abandoned the flower bed at 11 and went into the house to shower and grapple

Newt Pullman was similarly obsessed with picnic plans. He’d been struck by the idea right after his visit with Susan the day before and hatched a plan to turn the event into something

of a grand gesture. He, too, had chided himself and dismissed the entire notion but after a night of fitful sleep, he decided to go for broke. He washed the car before breakfast, then enlisted the deli in town to pull out all the stops on a picnic basket for two. Cassie at the deli had pumped him for information. “Special occasion, then, is it

Newt?” “Something like that, I

guess.” “You and a lady, then?” “Maybe.” “Anybody I know?” “I don’t think so, Cassie. Just whip me up something special, okay?” “Sure. It’s just easier if I

have some idea of what people like, eh? You don’t want to serve fried chicken to somebody who has no teeth, right?” “You know, Cassie, I’ve

always thought that people spend way too much time solving problems they don’t have. As near as I can tell there won’t be any shortage of teeth. I’ll see you after 10, alright?” Everything was waiting for him when he called at the deli. Cassie passed him a white box with a red bow on

the lid. “What’s with the ribbon?”

asked Newt. “It’s red. Red’s the colour of passion and desire. Is that not the message you’re shooting for?” “It seems a little over the

top maybe.” “Gee, I’m sorry, Newt. We’re all out of the sad gray ribbon,” said Cassie sarcastically. “I just figured a special picnic for two might have something romantic to it. If that’s the case, you might as well lay all your cards on the table. It’ll be a kindness to your lady friend.” “How could that be any

sort of kindness?” “Don’t take this the wrong

way; I’m assuming your friend is somewhere near the same age as you and at your stage of the game, there’s no point in beating around the bush and making her guess about your intentions. I’ve fixed you three kinds of meat, three kinds of cheese and three kinds of salad, with cheesecake and fresh strawberries, but I’m willing to bet you the price of the whole works it’s the red ribbon she’ s going to remember.’ “How’d you manage to come up with fresh strawberries?”

“I had to beg Larry Jensen

for some out of his greenhouse. I told him it was for a picnic emergency for a special occasion involving you and a lady friend. He dropped by and delivered them. You might want to give him a call and let him know how it all works out. He seemed mighty curious about it.”

“Gee, thanks, Cassie! I suppose Harriet Murray will



be wanting an interview for the paper.” Cassie stifled her giggling as she passed Newt the picnic box

“I hope this all works out,

Newt. If you’re really worried about the ribbon, you could take it off but if you’re trying to say something you don’t have the words for, you should just leave it there.” Newt thought about

yarding the ribbon off the box all the way home but in the end, he left it alone and stowed the box in the car.


Deborah and Birdie went straight from the spa to lunch. “How do you feel after

that?” asked Birdie. “I feel great. I can’t

remember the last time I felt so relaxed.” Birdie said she felt good,

too, and they should make plans for where they wanted to have dinner and unless Deborah had a preference, she would suggest the French restaurant at the resort because Bernie really liked it and so did she and she was certain Deborah and Kenneth would like it, too, and that it was a little dressy so it would give them the opportunity to get all dolled-up, and she knew nobody said all-dolled- up anymore but it reminded her of her mother and did Deborah bring an evening dress, and they should go to the salon together and get their hair and nails and makeup done and make Bernie and Kenneth forget the game of golf altogether. Deborah said that the

restaurant sounded fine, and that she did bring a cocktail dress she hadn’t worn in ages, and nothing short of dying her hair 10 different colours and wearing a dog collar was likely to make Kenneth notice her, or care one way or the

other. “Honey, you’re selling

yourself way too short. Unless that man of yours is a zombie, he’ll notice alright.” Birdie left a message for Bernie that she and Deborah made restaurant reservations for 6 and they would meet them there. Then she made a salon appointment for 4:45. “How will we be ready by

six?” asked Deborah. “We don’t want to be ready

by six; we’re shooting for seven.”

Deborah looked puzzled. “We don’t want to just be

there at 6. We want them to be there – waiting for us. We want to make an entrance at seven so they know we’ve been worth the wait. Now, why don’t you show me that dress of yours?” Birdie and Deborah arrived

at the restaurant precisely at seven. A host showed them to the table. Bernie broke into a big smile and stood with outstretched arms as they approached. “Here they are! My gosh just look at the pair of you! You both look beautiful!” Bernie gave Birdie a hug

and kissed her cheek. “You know, Kenny, I’d say

we’re the two luckiest men in the world.” “Why would that be?”

asked Kenneth. “Because these ladies both

took leave of their senses long enough to marry us. We probably aren’t the handsomest guys here but we sure-as-shootin’ got the best lookin’ wives.”

A man at the next table turned and stared up at Bernie. Bernie clapped him on the shoulder. “And this fella here looks

like he’s a close third.” “I suppose that’s one way

of looking at it,” said Kenneth as he drained his glass of Glenfiddich.

To be continued...


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