A Perspective from the Centre of the Universe

by Beth Novokshonoff

Story She Wrote...

One of my favourite shows from the 1990s is “Murder She Wrote.” It’s about a mystery writer from Cabot Cove who is world renowned not only as a writer but also for her clever mind in solving murders. At the end of our working day, before we begin supper preparations, my sister and I put our feet up and enjoy an hour of Jessica Fletcher’s adventures. In addition to all her sleuthing, it seems Mrs. Fletcher is able to write a new bestseller on a monthly basis. She makes it look so easy. Sometimes I wish real life was a bit like a TV show, especially when it comes time to write my ISKRA article. Sometimes I wish I could sit down at my computer, let my fingers joyfully skip across the keyboard and make a great story magically appear. Alas, that is not how it works and I am no Jessica Fletcher, so here I sit on a Sunday evening, willing my mind to come up with words to put to paper – or more specifically, on the computer screen. I mentally go through a list of possible topics: our first full spring in Grand Forks; the joys of small-town living; the many activities that fill our days; and the many events coming up in the future; all of the above. My fingers start to skip across the keyboard …

A Facebook friend of mine recently posted a saying on her page which read: “The nice part about living in a small town is that when you don’t know what you are doing someone else does.” I laughed out loud because it is quite true.

When I was younger, it was very frustrating when mom and dad knew what we did, when we did it and where we did it before we got home – especially when we were up to no good. And they were very clever about it too. They would always give us a chance to ‘fess up first and then they’d tell us that wasn’t what happened because someone had already given them a different report. Oi! Busted again.

Now, in my older age, I find it quite comforting that people care: how nice it is to know that people are looking out for our wellbeing. Well, that’s how I choose to look at it now anyway. So thank you for knowing what we’re up to, because sometimes we don’t know what the heck we’re doing ourselves.

Another great feature of living in a small town is receiving the local weekly newspaper and being informed when the first buttercups or pussy willows were brought to the newspaper office. These have always been the first signs of spring in the Sunshine Valley. Growing up, immediately after the snow melted, we would climb the mountain behind our neighbourhood in search of buttercups, yellow bells and delicate white flowers we called snowdrops. I could still smell the sweet aroma of each of those flowers. Yellow bells were my favourite – they had a delicate lemony scent. In the evening, after our woodland adventures, our mothers would do the requisite wood-tick search – the “yuck” part of spring – and we would look forward to another day of exploring our mountain.These days our mountain-climbing days are over but we still keep an eye out for buttercups along the road and yellow bells in the fields.

I love spring! After the darkness of winter the warmer, sunny, longer days are so welcome.

Spring in our USCC organization is a very busy time. Spring was still a couple of weeks away when we hosted our two talent nights in the beginning of March in the Kootenays and Grand Forks.The March 11 talent night held in Grand Forks was the first one I had attended since helping organize them some 33 years ago. It was different from what I remembered, but very enjoyable.Our Grand Forks Community Choir had fun performing three lighthearted “pesni” to a somewhat small but enthusiastic audience. It was a pleasure to have as our guests the Kootenay Men’s Choir whose performance was outstanding as usual. We are grateful they made the trek over the Blueberry-Paulson summit, which is often dodgy at this time of the year. Loretta Davidson, also from Castlegar; Allan Markin from Penticton; and Peri Best and Beverly Tripp from Grand Forks rounded out the musical portion of the programme. Four Russian-language students from Grand Forks Secondary School, along with their teacher Roman Wyllie, entertained us with a skit called Колобок. All in all, it was a very entertaining evening and a great way to welcome spring.

The refreshments served after the programme is another new concept to both my sister and me. In the “old days” we sang, we said goodnight and we went home.What a great idea to continue the evening with a social downstairs. It gave everyone a chance to mingle and allowed me to get a lot of well needed hugs from friends and relatives I haven’t seen since forever. What I imagined to be a tea-and-cookie type of social turned out to be an incredible meal with a variety of sandwiches, salads, pickles, crackers, pizza buns, cheese – three long tables groaning with tasty delights. The dessert table was paradise for anyone with a sweet tooth. A big “thumbs up” to our choir members for their contributions to this delicious feast. We’re so proud to be part of this generous and enthusiastic group.
In Grand Forks we were also fortunate to host a Sunday afternoon social on March 19 with guest speaker Corinne Seminoff. As many of you may know, she will begin a new chapter in her life as a producer in the CBC’s Moscow bureau. While visiting her family (Jerry and Lorraine Seminoff) in Grand Forks, she took time out to share her journey and experiences with 80 of us that afternoon.

The really big event in our USCC spring is, of course, our annual festival. Preparations are well underway in both areas and excitement is growing. This year being the 70th annual festival makes it extra special. Most of you likely are aware the festival will begin in Grand Forks. We have an outline of our Grand Forks activities and are still going through some of the logistics. We hope it will be a great programme for all to enjoy. Please mark your calendars for an extra-long weekend celebration beginning in Grand Forks on Friday, May 19 and continuing in Brilliant through Monday, May 22.

In Ed Sullivan’s words “It’s going to be a really big show!”