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A peaceful afternoon at the beach

The Jacksons from the August 4, 2016 issue of the Manitoba Co-operator

Andrew Jackson set his beach chair down in the sand and adjusted the back to his liking. Kicking off his sandals, he sat down and pulled the brim of his hat down to shield his eyes from the blazing sun. He turned to look at Rose, who was already ensconced on her new, well-padded lounger staring out over the hazy blue of the lake.

“Well, here we are,” he said. “Back in our natural habitat at last.”

“Indeed,” said Rose without turning her head. “What a cruel irony that I, who was born to lie by the sea, should be born in the middle of the world’s largest prairie.”

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cartoon image of a family seated at a table
cartoon image of a family seated at a table
cartoon image of a family seated at a table

“Cruel indeed,” said Andrew, “and I empathize with you in your suffering. Although not right now, since you are currently, as just stated, in your natural seaside habitat on a very nicely padded lounger. And you have to admit that for most creatures, natural habitats do not include padded loungers.”

“Well they should,” said Rose. “Padded loungers should have evolved like trees or dandelions. They should be everywhere. There should be forests where people could go harvest their own padded loungers in an assortment of styles and colours.”

“You just described Canadian Tire,” said Andrew.

“Canadian Tire,” said Rose, “where you can find, and buy, your own natural habitat.”

There was a brief pause during which a pair of perfectly matched white pelicans swam by, each keeping one eye out for fish and the other suspiciously trained on Andrew and Rose.

“Did you see that?” said Rose. “Pelicans. They act as if they own the place. They’re so condescending. They’re always looking down on you, even when you’re higher up than they are. I don’t know how they do that but I find it rather rude.”

“Oh, they can’t help it,” said Andrew. “It’s that huge beak they have. It gives them a naturally haughty look. Like Jake Rempel. He looks down his nose at everything but that’s because, given the size of his nose and the placement of his eyes, there’s no other way for him to look. But he’s actually quite humble, which anyone would be with a schnozz like that.”

“You’re probably right,” said Rose. “But still. They could try to be a little less supercilious.” She heaved a happy sigh. “This is where I belong,” she said. “On a beach in a padded lounger in the hot sun, complaining about pelicans. It’s perfect.”

“I’m glad you’re happy,” said Andrew, “and I’m sure there will be many other things to complain about that are at least as annoying as pelicans.”

“I don’t need anything to complain about to be happy,” said Rose. “But it helps.”

“Perhaps a group of young people will come and set up a few yards away and play their hippity-hop music at us all afternoon,” said Andrew. “Between that and the pelicans, it will be a perfect day for you, my dear.”

“Don’t call it music,” said Rose. “It’s just young people banging on pails and shouting lousy poetry at each other with very bad diction so they’re impossible to understand.”

“Maybe they know the poetry is lousy so they don’t WANT people to understand,” said Andrew, “because deep down they’re kind, thoughtful people.”

“I’m sure they are kind, thoughtful people,” said Rose, “but their hippity-hop still does not qualify as music in my book. And my book is the only one that matters. Speaking of which, can you hand me my book from the bag there next to you?”

Andrew rummaged through the bag briefly and came up with a paperback, the cover of which featured a muscular half-clad man with long flowing locks and a remarkably chiselled chin embracing a beautiful woman who appeared to be either on the verge of fainting or just waking up from a nap.

“The Dawn of Desire,” said Andrew. “Sticking with the classics I see. Does it have pictures?”

“Hey, I just read The Poisonwood Bible,” said Rose. “I need a break. And no, there’s no pictures. Except the one on the cover.”

“They say you can’t judge a book by its cover,” said Andrew.

“Well in this case, they are wrong,” said Rose. She opened the book and read the first paragraph. “Ah yes,” she said. “No eight-letter words in this one. It’s going to be a good week.”

“If that’s all it takes,” said Andrew, “then every week with me is a good week.”

Rose turned and looked at him over the top of her sunglasses. “Every week with you IS a good week,” she said with a smile.

Andrew closed his eyes. “When should I wake you?” asked Rose.

Andrew grinned. “At dawn,” he said. “Wake me at dawn.”

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