They say people tend to make comparisons between former mates and new loves. I didn’t realize I was ever guilty of this but even if I was, this creature fit the bill in every respect. My late husband was 6’3” in his bare feet, tenderhearted, hairy-chested, and very cuddly. This newest Adonis towered above me, looked unbelievably tender, appeared snuggly and huggable, and I can almost guarantee he rarely, if ever, wore shoes.
He had a lot of body hair, but on him it looked perfectly natural, well, perhaps slightly jaundiced. He scared quite easily but that was part of his charm. He was so in touch with his “feminine side”…so…so vulnerable and sweet. I admit the first time something startled him and he nearly landed in my arms, I was surprised, but isn’t that what love is all about, the surprises.
I discovered he loved faraway places with strange-sounding names, making him a natural for the RVing lifestyle. And romantic…he was romantic to the max. He sang! Not all that well, perhaps, but as I sat there, I knew he was singing just for me. He definitely had animal magnetism. I believe in serendipity and I met him through the happiest of chances.
OK, so you caught me telling a tail…I mean a tale. Last summer I spent several weeks on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. My first major stop was Chemainus, about an hour north of Victoria. I was immediately charmed, mainly because it was one of the few towns where I found parking specifically marked for RVs.
This little town is famous for its murals, often covering the entire side of a building. They reflect its Indian heritage and logging history, both past and present. Tours of the “World’s Largest Outdoor Gallery” were possible by horse-drawn carriage or by the street train. I opted for the self-guided tour in order to also visit the unique gift shops and the Chemainus Valley Museum.
After wandering the streets and browsing the Visitor Center, I discovered that even in mid-September, Chemainus offered live theater. Immediately I bought a last-minute ticket for the Friday evening play at the Chemainus Theatre Festival Creative Centre.
As upbeat as I try to be, I did have a cynical thought or two. Had someone taken my favorite and uniquely American children’s fairy tale and twisted it into adult fare that my children wouldn’t let me see? Not so. I would have been thrilled to share it with my grandchildren.
Was I destined to believe I was going deaf when bad acoustics were the culprit? No. I heard every wonderful word, every succinct note, and felt I could have been sucked into the tornado at any time. The tier seats were steep enough to actually see the performance and the performers. I saw every move without darting between a tall ponytail or an even taller head with Schwarzenegger shoulders. It was a magnificent theater for such a small town, and specifically created to be a theater, not a barn or a factory or any other building with a stage stuck in the middle.
The love of my second life didn’t come on stage until the story was well into the telling but then…I completely lost my heart! From the moment the Cowardly Lion came growling on the Wizard of Oz stage, I was in love.
Thirteen cast members danced, sang, and sometimes disappeared miraculously through a hole in the stage or appeared through a window on the back wall or above us on a screen. They were all very young, very enthusiastic, and very good. The costuming was fantastic and the girl who accompanied Toto in all his moves and doggy conversations via tail, bark and twist of the head was phenomenal. Toto’s performance was “uplifting.” Whether endangering a make-believe tree or questionably sniffing a leg, Toto often stole the scene.
It took me a while to catch on. Dorothy picked Toto up and put him in the basket. Simultaneously, Toto’s helper exited Toto off stage. Within seconds, Dorothy opened the basket and Toto’s head magically appeared inside. I’m not sure whether it was slight of hand or slight of foot.
The stage wasn’t all that big but they accomplished a lot of dancing and story mileage, right on “Over the Rainbow” as a matter of fact. I have seen the Wizard of Oz movie a hundred times with Judy Garland but this was very different and yet the same, and totally bewitching. It took a great deal of offstage talent to pull it off as well.
Exiting the theater into the warm, balmy evening in a distinctly euphoric mood, I chuckled all the way back to the Georgetown, but with the Gulf Islands stretching before me, I knew I wasn’t in Kansas any more.
I had a Rotary International pancake breakfast the next morning with the cast members (and half the town) in the MacMillan Waterwheel Park parking lot, a couple of blocks from the theater. They didn’t know I was there but I discovered each Oz personality, including the Cowardly Lion. Alas, my furry love didn’t know I existed. I was cleverly disguised as someone far too many years his senior.
However, it was fun watching them all laugh and play and enjoy their young lives on that delightful September morning.
Ah, that’s the way with love, it comes and goes. Be especially kind to the love of your life this Valentine’s Day. Just for fun, do something really romantic and out of character. God Bless.
For information about Chemainus, visit www.chemainus.bc.ca and for RV park information, visit www.chemainusrivercampground.com.
For information about six RV-related books written by Sharlene Minshall, see www.full-time-rver.com. Send questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.