My Publicist, Sarah Hawkins and I headed north on Friday, April 29th in preparation of my book signing event in my hometown of North Bay, Ontario. On the way we stopped at Knowlton Ridge Equestrian Centre in Powassan to visit the facility and introduce ourselves to owner Gord Cardwell. (Knowlton Ridge was chosen as a backdrop for the CTV interview on Saturday). After an hour long tour of his horses and facility, we continued on to our destination in North Bay.
After checking into our hotel, I showed Sarah the sites of North Bay (more precise, the locations of stories in my book.) With daylight fading fast now, we headed off to the famous steak house “Churchill’s” for dinner. After a late evening meal devouring a huge rib eye steak cooked to perfection, our digestive system worked in overdrive. As a result we suffered a rather sleepless night due to the internal workings of the gut trying to dissolve and absorb the large meal we had just consumed.
Sarah and I rose way too early according to our protesting bodies that spent all night fighting the bulge in our stomachs. We headed south to Knowlton Ridge for the 8:30 am television interview.
The camera rolled as I held on to a rather large Sport Horse owned by Gord Cardwell. The young handler who brought the horse out for its television debut appeared to be a little cautious in handing over the lead shank to this ‘mature’ woman who was not suitably dressed for the stable. The mare danced and pulled at the restraining line that held it on the gravel drive. Still I assured the young groom that despite my age and dress, I was in fact a horse trainer and was comfortable taking the shank from her. She weakly smiled her reassurance as she stretched her arm out to pass me the shank. The bold mare finally settled and stood with her head held high and ears pointed in the direction of the tripod and its large camera eye attached to it.
I answered the interviewer’s questions. It was a rather smooth run I thought without any obvious hiccups. A second interview was planned later in the day at the book signing in North Bay. This time Sarah would have to step in and pose questions to me. It was all for show and not really of any significance. Still the watching eye of the camera made Sarah blush profusely and her voice became a whisper. (This girl needs serious acting lessons!) Despite it all, Sarah didn’t break the camera, stutter or faint. She got through it all.
The van rolled on as we made our way to the North Bay Public Library. A welcome sign was displayed outside the library when we arrived. Through the main doors lay the signing table ready and waiting. It wasn’t long before the first visitor arrived for the book signing. The staff on duty was very pleased to greet us and welcomed us to the city’s library. We later found out that we indeed were special guests. I was the first author ever to do an author signing in the historic halls of this great institution. Now that is privilege.
It was delightful day reacquainting myself with long ago friends and now their families. After 47 years away from the city that was my birthplace, it was a good feeling to return. I was coming home. One thing hasn’t changed about the north and that is its people. You can’t find a more hospitable host. You are no stranger to northerners, just friends. It’s the town that says hello and means it. Everyone who passed through the turnstile that day made a point of saying hello or stopping to chat.
As I started the return trip home, gremlins in the van illuminated the engine light to a cautious yellow. Since I just had extensive engine work done on the van, I was taking this warning light seriously. Sarah pulled off the four lane highway onto a seemingly dead end road. We turned around and pointed the van towards the highway just before the stop sign. The hood was popped and I began my investigation. At the same time a gentleman with a strong French Canadian accent approached the van and asked if we were having trouble. I was already on the cell phone to “Bob the Mechanic” to get his expertise. Since the oil light hadn’t been activated I thought it might be something else. Still my instinct was to pull the rod and see what level of oil registered. – NONE! I took the oil cap off and peered down into the black pit. I couldn’t detect anything other that a small whisper of smoke. Not good I deducted. ‘Needs oil’ I thought. (Sarah remarked later that fellow leaned over to her and said, “This lady seems to know what she is doing.”) The curious Frenchman offered his assistance by going to his cottage. He thought he might possibly have a jug of oil there. He went off to retrieve his all terrain vehicle but instead came back with a ¾ litre of oil he located. I poured it into the dark hole and finally got a registered on the oil stick. It would have to do until we got to the next exit 40 km away. I offered to pay the man for his oil and generosity but he refused payment. His only remark was to stop by next time for a cup of coffee. As he walked off I had a brilliant thought. Maybe he would like a copy of my book. I called to him and with a grin he queried “are you trying to bribe me?” My reply was “yes, sort of.” In the end he graciously accepted my book and stated emphatically that he loved horses. He seemed thrilled that I was signing the book for him and promised to read it that night. Off we went back on the blacktop and kilometres yet to count down. After adding another two litres of oil, we completed our journey home without further incident.