Recently we were delighted to be invited over “for drinks” at the home of neighbours who moved to the Cove from England a few years back. “Come over for drinks”—what a concept! What a novelty in this year of self-isolation. Certainly we’ll come, thank you very much.
Isn’t it lovely when you step in the door and your host thrusts a goblet of wine into your hand? Cheers! There is something about wine that makes conversation flow, especially on a winter’s night when the warmth of human kindness is most welcome. It’s easy to social distance at our friends’ place because they live in a roomy high-ceilinged farmhouse built in the days of thick timbers and long boards. A few years ago during renovations, as layer upon layer of wallpaper was peeled off, they came across a fragment of newspaper from 1880 with an editorial bemoaning the cost of the new PEI Hospital for the Insane. That’s how old their house is.
This artifact is now a charming centerpiece on their kitchen wall.
With wine glasses in hand, cheerful fire crackling in the woodstove and smiles all around, we settled in and started talking.
“You moved here from the north of England,” says I. “What’s England like these days? I just read Hilary Mantel’s history of Thomas Cromwell and it seems that things were pretty tough over there in the 1500s. Plagues, beheadings and such.”
Our host laughed. “Plagues perhaps, but no beheadings. Life in England? Well, food is cheap but buying a house is out of the question. People go to pubs but don’t socialize much with friends at home, not like this.”
“So you came to Canada because houses are affordable?”
“No, it was because teenagers talk to adults here.”
“What!? Don’t teenagers talk to adults in England?”
“Not where we came from. We were used to lippy youngsters who wouldn’t talk to you on a dare. One summer we vacationed on Prince Edward Island and had a conversation with some friendly teenagers, just a normal conversation you know, but it was such a shock that we said to ourselves, this is where we want to raise our boys.”
That just blew me away.
Since then I’ve been paying closer attention to our teenagers and yes, I’d have to say that they are undeniably friendly. Yesterday as I was out walking I encountered four local girls jauntily making their way to the shore. Two of them had been in our Cove Christmas concerts over the years so we were slightly acquainted with one another, but I’m sure that if I had been a total stranger they would have smiled at me the same way. We had an impromptu chat, hello hello, lovely weather, how’s school, say hi to your folks for me, stay warm. It felt like a pleasant exchange among equals.
Teenagers talking to adults: let’s raise a glass to that! While we’re at it let’s also have a toast to the friendly parents who raised those teenagers.