The September season is upon us, which means so many things in Barkerville. As soon as September rolls in, everything shifts. The weather takes on a bracing chill, even when the sun is out. Little pockets of leaves burst into brilliant yellow overnight, and by the end of the month all of them will have changed and our landscape will be as golden as our history. So many goodbyes have already happened, so many from our extended community are already back in bigger cities, organizing their lives back into commutes and parking permits and movie theatres and take out menus (parts of city life that lose all meaning in our simple summer season experience).
For the past few seasons September has also been ushered in by cowboys. This coming weekend, September 5th to 7th, is our annual Cowboy and Drover Jubilee… an event perfectly suited for September. The cowboys roll in slowly, with a gentlemanly air, and sing songs that ring with the rhythm of stories told a thousand times. The singers, poets and musicians that come to Barkerville this weekend suit the quieter, more thoughtful mood of early autumn.
September, with its inherently different energy, allows us to luxuriate more in our conversations with visitors. Late-season guests seem to be the types who want to sit and talk about our town, our history, our lore. Our shorter days, slightly less packed with performance obligations (and I mean slightly… we still have a very full calendar of daily programming) invite more lingering chats with the people who come to us from across the globe. Whenever September catches me in Barkerville, I find myself in a much more contemplative mood.
Today I took a little respite between tours and popped into St. Saviour’s Church to spend a quiet moment away from the world. The smell of the church, the creak of the floorboards under my feet, and the feel of time-worn wooden pews beneath my gloved hand are like soft greetings from an old friend. I thought of Joanne, the dear lady who presided over our church this season. She has already left us for year but the feel of her hangs in the air inside St. Saviour’s. She is still there, a little bit… her impish laugh and mischievous eyes. I think about the sweet blessing she whispered into my ear as we embraced on the main street a few days ago. I hope her current travels away from Barkerville have been safe and full of grace. As I leave the church and feel my boot hit that board with the worn dip from nearly a century and a half of boots before mine, I imagine all the years of visitors this old building has seen.
I like to savour this final month of Barkerville’s season. My voice and legs are tired and I am keenly aware of how much older I’ve gotten since the last time I was a full-time street interpreter. For all the aches and pains, however, I know that age also brings wisdom and the ability to live a bit more in the “moment.” I admit that my body is ready for a nice winter’s rest but my heart wants to linger a bit on Barkerville’s main street to watch Mr. O’Neill, our blacksmith, tell yet another young couple the story of the “Prairie Diamond,” and to watch visitors walk away from the forge delighted by the exchange. I want to listen to the music ringing into the streets from the Theatre Royal show as the actors perform numbers they have done hundreds of times as if they are brand new. I want to take it all in.
September really is a perfect time to visit Barkerville. It is the sunset of our season. So, before the leaves start to fall, and before the air starts to smell like snow, why not come watch the sunset with us?
– Danette Boucher
The above one-panel cartoon (originally published September 6th, 2014) by Dirk Van Stralen, with accompanying editorial by Danette Boucher, is the seventeenth of twenty weekly entries that were logged – and subsequently blogged – as part of a 2014 collaboration between Barkerville, British Columbia and the Prince George Citizen aimed at introducing some of the quirkier advantages to living, working, and playing in the Cariboo Goldfields. We hope you enjoy!