Bok Choy

She was short, Asian and almost my age. We were in our sixties. And we were side by side at Save-On both looking intently at the Bok Choy. I like Bok Choy but my appreciation of it was limited to ordering Chinese food to go. We didn’t cook it at home. I was thinking of going produce rogue on Sal and adding Bok Choy to the grocery cart. “Excuse me, but I am guessing you know more about Bok Choi than I do.” That intro was delivered with a smile and a non-threatening posture.

She smiled and said in perfectly unaccented English, “Yes. I probably do. How can I help you?”

And so we got to talking vegetables (domestic and foreign) and shopping, the weather and such, you know, in the manner of a ‘pick up line’?

Ang was from Edmonton. She and her husband were on vacation. Seems he had never seen the ocean and this was a dream vacation for him. But, as she told me of their trip (they were only a day or so into it) she seemed a smidge down, melancholy. Her voice seemed a bit weak.

They were staying on Quadra, the island just down the coast from us. Their idea of ‘seeing the ocean’ was to go to the beach at Heriot Bay. He wanted to wade in the shallows of Drew Harbour. And it is a lovely place…..

But, for some reason I said, “Here’s my number. If you and your husband want to experience a bit more ‘closeness’ to the ocean, I’ll pick you up in my boat.” She was speechless. I thought I may have come across like a weirdo. Sal says that happens a lot. But I persisted, “You have to travel up to the end of the road and that is where I get you.” I kinda regretted the last few words in that invitation but I let ’em sit. She didn’t answer. I said, “Gotta go. Call me if you want. You’ll need to set aside a few hours. Takes forty minutes just to get to the dock. If you call, I’ll give better instructions.” And, again, she just kind of looked at me. No answer.

I left her and the remaining Bok Choy and joined Sal at the fruit section. I confessed my impulsiveness. “What!? She’s gonna call the manager. They’re gonna call the police. Let’s get out of here!” I was gonna argue but, some day, that scenario may, in fact, play out. So we hustled out.


Two days later Ang called. She and her husband would like to accept my offer. They drove out and I picked them up. Peter seemed like a nice guy. I drove them around a bit in the boat and, after twenty minutes, we were in front of our house and I pointed it out. Peter seemed to come alive. He was noticeably intrigued. And so, that is how they came to be invited to our house and Sal served a fabulous impromptu lunch. We talked and then it came out…..

“Peter has Cancer. Terminal. They give him days, maybe weeks. As soon as we get back to Edmonton, he goes into hospice. It has always been his dream to see the Pacific and maybe retire near it like you have. He’s dreamed of a cabin like yours.”

We spent a few hours with them. Peter was remarkably sanguine about his fate but, at the same time, he was clearly tasting a bit of his dream. He was happy. He seemed to love every aspect of what he was seeing and what he was hearing. ‘Course, Sal’s lunch was pretty damn good, too. Despite his genuine excitement and pleasure, he did begin to noticeably tire and I took them back to their car when Ang and I shared the right glance. All in all, they had been away from their B&B about four or five hours.

Ang wrote to us a month or so later to inform us of Peter’s passing. She also sent Xmas cards for a few years afterwards as well. We exchanged a few polite e-mails. She said Peter talked about his visit with us and with everyone who would listen. She said we made his dream come true.

A chance meeting of a stranger over Bok Choy. A small gesture offered and accepted. A heartbreaking story. Is that an example of what I just wrote about these past few days? Yes and no. Mostly yes. ‘No’ because Ang and Peter hadn’t asked for any help. Help didn’t seem needed. Still, something human prompted a spontaneous gesture and acceptance. And that led to a ‘moment’ and a very close relationship – at least for that time and for a few years – and, in such small ways, community is built. We and Ang don’t even live within a thousand miles of one another but I am pretty sure we would consider each other as members of our community.

17 thoughts on “Bok Choy

  1. Yes, this story is exactly what you have been writing about these past few days!

    You sometimes come across as brash and fiercely independent But I have long suspected that you are a soft-heartened personality with a keen social conscience— and someone who knows a little of what it means to promote a flourishing life. And what virtue as in ‘kindness’ looks like.

    I suspect your years of practicing kindness and hospitality – as a reconciler – gave you an edge in sensing Ang’s need.

    I wonder if the OTR crowd –many of them – are simply adopting the lifestyle for the sense of community and connecting with what makes life inherently meaningful. Loving your neighbor as yourself and maintaining a right relationship with the earth – as the key ingredients.

    Perhaps the reality is less grand in many instances. We often do many things without knowing why.

    Very inspiring series of blogs.


    • Thankyou, Fred. Your additional complement of BRASH allies somewhat well with a contemporary (OTG), Chris Czajkowski, the author of the the Wilderness Dweller blog. She kinda likes me despite my being a bit BOMBASTIC! One of Sal’s girlfriends, however, put it best: Looking me slowly up and down after visiting for three days, she hugged Sal and told her how wonderful it all was and then she looked at me, :”….and you were, David, well……(long pause as she repeated the look), well, adequate.” So, I am adequate, bombastic and brash. And we are just at the start of the alphabet!


  2. Great story.
    I remember years ago being in Calgary during the Stampede.
    I was waiting for friends in the hotel lobby for a night of swilling.
    A “Leave It to Beaver” family of 4 from Edmonton was having issues at the Check in counter.
    Their card was maxed and they couldnt check in.
    They had enough cash to pay for their stay but they needed a credit card for a damage deposit.
    ( like a family of 4 with two little kids are going to trash the place)
    I listened to this for a few minutes and thought ” Screw it.”
    I told the clerk, “Let them pay cash and put their room on my card for the DD”
    The Family guy was shocked.
    I told him, “Help someone else like this sometime.”

    A few years ago I was in Halifax renting a car.
    The guy in front of me was also from Vancouver and he had forgotten his drivers license. ( How he got on a plane escapes me…)
    Anyway. This guy was screwed.
    He had business meetings all over the Maritimes and couldnt rent a car…….
    Doom was in his eyes.
    I said, “Gimme a minute.”
    I called a friend at the Vancouver Airport who worked for FedEx,
    ” How soon can you courier a package to a Halifax hotel?”
    I handed the phone to buddy and in 5 minutes….he would have his wife take the package to my friend who would guaranteed it got on the next flight……problem solved.
    He would be delayed one day but his trip was saved.
    All I said to him was “Pay it forward pal…..”


    • Absolutely. That’s exactly the ‘right stuff’. Hardly a big sacrifice for us but a HUGE assistance to a stranger. And I am sure the second half of that also repeats: they DO pay it forward. And, in small cob-webby way, feelings of humanity start to coalesce into a community of sorts. Do it all locally and the community is obvious. Do it all over the place and the community becomes ‘universal’. Having said that, I might balk at sharing an elevator with you……


  3. Great story, thanks for sharing. And like Frederik says, it”s exactly what you have been writing about in the last blogs. Inspirational at least….and I will be more “attentive” of helping out the community!
    I’m pretty sure though I will find you more then “adequate” if we ever have that BBQ! But I think I’ll chop some wood before the BBQ, might have a bit of a hangover “the day after”


    • Kind. But not quite accurate. T’aint my community. It’s OURS. Your comments, your desire to visit….all that builds relationship, too. We may not quite BE in community in the normal sense but I ‘feel’ as if I could drop into Belgium sometime and share a beer and we’d be like old friends. I am sure that would be the case wherever we were. Well, I AM old, so I qualify in that way at the very least. I already had that experience with Paradise Plodders, NonCon and I know that we’d ALL be included if at all possible.
      A friend of mine, SH, calls it the circle of love (COL). We help each other or anyone referred to us. SD and DG and RB are in. I know Tracy would be in. DW up north. The list keeps growing. We’d even make room for Kev. Kev is a good guy following rabbits and conspiracy theories but, hell, it’s a cheap hobby and full of entertaining madness. Wouldn’t leave Kev out in the cold.
      OK, admittedly, I may be the common denominator of THIS particular CoL but really……? There are a lot of great peeps out there and, if we could ever get it together, the Putins, Trumps and Trudeaus could be ignored instead of influencing us so much.


      • you are ALL invited whenever you visit Belgium for a few nice Belgian beers! COL is also a good description, but to be honest, it is mostly YOUR blog that brought us together (apart from your neighbours that also might your blog. Reading your readers comments kinda builds a bond between us as well, if only that we get to read so many different opinions. Again, thank you my “old” friend for allowing us into your COL


  4. A little off topic, but we may not have to go to Mendoza. I just bought a bottle of Mendoza wine for $6.99 at the local liquor outlet! Just imagine what it would cost to go down and pick one up!


    • Good point! What is Argentina good for, anyway? Cheap wine, cheap beef and a whole bunch of uninhabited land. I am still drawn to it but, as I age, les and less. Seems Covid wreaked havoc there. The government is unstable. Peru has gone to hell and Brazil has always been dangerous. I may try Portugal instead. You IN for Portugal?


      • I’m in for anywhere! OTG may be an ideal life, IF you have a Sal. I keep pinching myself to realize how fortunate I am, even without a Sally. One of THOSE would put me in Utopia!
        Spring has been a complete bust. I think we had two days of it and then there’s only 1 week until Summer. Not much time in which to squeeze the season! (Not ending in a preposition).
        So, yeah, I’m up for anything. May with ‘anything’ to look forward to, I might get lucky!


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