Leaving Haida Gwaii

In the ferry line-up waiting to leave Haida Gwaii, I chat with the women ahead of me. I admire their red Subaru Forester, and before long we are talking about where we’re all going and what we’re doing. I’m on a tour of BC and Alberta doing shows in schools, I explain. The younger of the two – she is 22 – has been staring at me and now she says slowly, “I think I saw your show when I was a kid.” 15 years ago, we figure, based on where she lives and when I toured there. She even remembers me making the little string dog that runs between two hands. I’m impressed. I give her a string.

String Games at Skidegate. Crystal remembers my show from 15 years ago.

String Games at Skidegate. Crystal remembers my show from 15 years ago.

The crossing from Haida Gwaii to Prince Rupert is smooth and beautiful. This time we travel by day, and in glorious sunshine! It is stunning. (Confession: I spend most of the time working and catching up on sleep.)

After a week of rain, I leave Haida Gwaii under clear skies.

After a week of rain, I leave Haida Gwaii under clear skies.

Prince Rupert

In Prince Rupert, I do a performance and several string workshops at one of the schools. Then I spend the weekend in town, hosted by the indefatigable Dawn Quast. We enjoy a fine evening at the Nepal fundraising event – Yoga class, loonie auction, silent auction, live auction, curry dinner & drinks. Here and there around the room, several kids are playing with strings. (A mother of young teens says her kids slept with the strings under their pillows; a family near us is caught up in cat’s cradle.) This small-town, big-heart event raises $13,000 to send to Nepal.

Cat's Cradle Family at Fundraiser, Prince Rupert

Cat’s Cradle Family at Fundraiser, Prince Rupert

Raising funds to send to Nepal. (Prince Rupert.)

Raising funds to send to Nepal. (Prince Rupert.)

At Cowpaccino’s Café on my last afternoon here, a young family at the next table catches my eye. The dad is showing the boy a knot. The string he’s using looks a lot like the strings all the kids at the school got with my program, but it’s far too clean for having spent 4 or 5 days in the hands of a kid. Still. It has to be. I ask if by any chance… And yes. Much excitement all around. The parents pleased to meet me, little Aden and I excited. The mother exclaims that Aden’s been playing with the string non-stop since my presentation.  “He washes his hands all the time now, and scrubs the string every time!” Aden even explains that when he plays in the dirt, he keeps the string up high around his arm so it doesn’t get dirty.

Aden demonstrates "a snake climbing a tree" at Cowpaccino's in Prince Rupert

Aden demonstrates “a snake climbing a tree” at Cowpaccino’s in Prince Rupert

We talk about what a nice community it is here. Aden’s mom grew up in a small town on Vancouver Island. “It was small back then. You knew everyone in town.” I ask if she knows my friend Jesse who grew up in the same town. “I went to school with her brother!” After the visit we leave the coffee shop and I feel sad, knowing this is my last time here for a while. I’ve come to feel at home in this town.

Butze Rapids near Prince Rupert

Butze Rapids near Prince Rupert

Tomorrow I leave Prince Rupert and drive through Terrace and up the Nisga’a Highway, past the Lava Beds to the Nisga’a community of New Aiyansh. I’ll do school shows there and in Gingolx, then I head south.

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