My parents sent me a copy of A Bright and Steady Flame, a new memoir by Luanne Armstrong. It’s a beautiful story, if harrowing at times. Personally, I loved the book most for its descriptions of life along Kootenay Lake in the 1970s.
While Luanne was struggling as a single mom and emerging writer near the southern end of the lake, my parents were chasing bears off our property about 40 minutes north, in Crawford Bay. And though she was an adult while I was a child, we apparently shared quite a few experiences: geodesic domes, carob chips, trailers, and random books scrounged from unusual sources.
My dad used to bring home cardboard boxes of books from Jual Auction. Opening one was like cracking a chest from the bottom of the sea. It could be full of sand or it could be full of treasure.
Even if you’re not from the Kootenays, A Bright and Steady Flame is a wonderful read. It’s the story of a woman struggling to find her artistic identity amidst poverty and social change, and the story of a friendship which endured it all.
The kids and I headed to Creston on the long weekend for the 75th annual Blossom Festival. Along with getting thoroughly spoiled by my parents, we went to the parade, tried some carnival games, and explored the farmer’s market. We also went for a tour of Spectrum Farms and the stables of the Therapeutic Riding Association. That stop was my personal favourite, because who was doing tours but… Luanne Armstrong.
Fortunately for me, I was with my librarian aunt and my book-obsessed daughter. My aunt introduced us all and my daughter immediately said, “You’re Luanne Armstrong? I read I’ll Be Home Soon and I voted for you in the Chocolate Lily awards!”
It turns out I’ll be Home Soon won the Chocolate Lily (which my daughter now thinks was entirely due to her vote), and the four of us received the grand tour of the riding stables and met all eight horses.
When not hobnobbing with literary stars, we walked trails, played in parks, barbecued hamburgers (well, actually, we ate the hamburgers that grandpa barbecued), met old friends and a new baby, read books, attempted fishing in three-foot waves (don’t tell Min), spotted bears along the highway, picked lettuce from the garden, searched for snakes, and met a donkey.