Had an interesting time across the river and the border in northern NY. I was over in St. Lawrence County at Canton in my new role as a volunteer member of the Executive Council of the public radio station. It was a good day to start as the President of NPR nationally was there. I put on the record that the role is volunteer because that's what I had to explain to immigration when I crossed through customs. Never got sent into the big building before after about a decade of crossing on a monthly basis. An interesting moment for reflection as I sat for 20 minutes getting mildly and professionally processed. Note: get letter of confirmation from station manager explaining situation.
So, once I was back in the car, there was that feeling of the experience as a privilege with a bit of an extra lilt to it. Driving east north east up the southern side on highway 11 is a cure for anyone sick of the 401, Ontario's east-west artery. Woods, farms, pink granite outcrop and village life. When I got to Canton, I was taken to the university where the meetings began. And I was introduced to the others as a Canadian, a big booster for the station and... a beer guy. Eyes light up. There is something I have noticed over the years of doing this. Eyes either light up or they dim when the beer writing thing is mentioned. Usually a bit of each. Yesterday, there was a strong glow.
Over the day, it's an entry point. We talk about how great the station is, I chat with a judge and a couple of senior lawyers about differences in our systems and two summer interns remind me how exciting the world can be when you are 21. But we keep coming back to beer. Did I like Narragansett? Try their seasonal porter, I say. Have I tried the beer from the new brewery in the county? Not yet, I say, as I like to give a place a bit of time to settle in. I figure six weeks is a fair chance to get rid of the yips. The guest of honour gave me a generous amount of time in a busy day, too. Maybe it was just the summer day, the bright weather, the genial gathering but thoughts and questions were of what could be recommended, what brewery tried next.
It's the best sort of topic for an evening in a garden or as you wait for the next scheduled item on the agenda. Light entertainment. The interior dialogue of one's own day dream brought up to the surface making the cool summer evening gathering that tiny notch warmer, the small talk cheerier, the comfortable gathering a little closer.
I had to leave early, swapping the shaded college setting for a few deer by the wood's edge as I returned back along quiet highway 11.