Last week on a beautiful summer evening I pedaled my bicycle down to The Forks to pick up a book I had ordered from the new McNally Robinson store there. As I rode through Steve Juba Park another woman pulled up beside me on her bike. “I love your bike,” she said to me. I told her I had won it in an Arts Junktion raffle and she was impressed. “I know all about ArtsJunktion,” she said. We talked about the important work they do. She wondered where the bike was from and I told her White Pine Bicycle Company had donated it. We chatted about the lovely weather and then parted ways at the ‘under the bridge’ path that leads into the Forks. “Enjoy your bike,” she said as I drove off. “It’s a beauty!”
After picking up my book I decided to have a chai latte and read for a while. The barista at Fools and Horses was interested in my book which was about Impressionist Art. I talked about working at the Winnipeg Art Gallery and told him how much I liked having a McNally Robinson branch at the Forks. He really liked that too, but said he still enjoys going to the Grant Park Store for events and meeting friends. I told him my writers’ group meets at McNallys and I still love going there too. We chatted a bit about why we like McNallys so much.
On my way outside I saw an older woman in a colourful sari sitting with a tiny newborn in her arms. I smiled and said, “What a beautiful baby.” A young woman in shorts and a T-shirt nearby who I assume was the baby’s mother pointed to the woman holding the baby and said, ‘grandmother.’ I pointed to myself and said ‘grandmother too’ and then showed the women a picture of my grandsons on my phone. They smiled. Before I left the younger woman pointed at us both and said, ‘grandmothers.’
I sat on a park bench reading for a while and a woman came to sit beside me. She was clearly frustrated, sighing and reading messages on her phone. She asked me where a certain Winnipeg street was and I gave her directions for getting there. She told me she was in Winnipeg with a couple of girls from out-of-town who are in foster care. They were in the city to see their mother whom they had met at the Forks. They weren’t supposed to leave the Forks but they had anyway, going to a place in the city the woman beside me thought might be dangerous for them. I wished her well as she set off to find her charges.
Later at home when I got out my pencils to do my daily drawing, I thought about the people I had just met and how interacting with them had made for an interesting evening.