I remember a vivid scene of my grandchild on a playground on a spring morning in Prince Rupert, B.C.
We were visiting our daughter. Pop needed to drive a proud Grade 1 student to school. Pop also needed to meet someone. Or, as our granddaughter referred to her, I had to meet her “bestest” friend.
It was not a large school. Kingergarten to Grade 6 on the west side of Rupert. The 10-minute drive from my daughter's home at the extreme eastern boundary of the city was a daily ritual.
By the time we pulled up most of the children were outside awaiting the early morning bell. As we left a parking spot and headed up a gentle incline leading to the school yard, I could see this little girl standing like a sentry on the edge of a busy playground. Her eyes were focused in our direction. There she was elevated on her toes, wringing her little fingers and palms together, as she winced in the cold. Our little friend had been playing in the fresh overnight snow; no mitts, no coat, no toque. Some would say after all it was spring, therefore who needed little of anything to combat the elements, particularly children. But this little girl was different. The face of poverty was recognizable. Reality can be so cold.
This little one was my granddaughter's special friend...her connection to school. The one friend she talked about over the weekend. The one friend she could barely contain her enthusiasm to see as we strolled up the hill leading to the playground. Pop needed to meet her.
“Come on Pop, hurry,” as she tugged my hand.
I felt my granddaughter's light grip slip as she lunged forward, into a staggered run with backpack swinging from side to side.
By this time the little girl had spotted us. Both girls were now on a collision course that ended in an embrace becoming one.
Seriously girls! How many days has it been? For these two young friends from different ends of town the Easter long weekend was an eternity.
As babbling intros were being made about this man she called her Pop and the eggs in her backpack, eggs to be shared at recess, I noticed something. My grandchild had removed one of her mitts and was busy pushing it over her little friend's chilled fingers. There were smiles, laughter, and way too much chatter.
“Love you Pop.” Off they ran. Two children on a spring morning with fresh snow. What could make a more perfect day? Two children: a glimpse into their world. Two children: racially and socially different. Two children: one living in poverty; another, a world apart. No judgement. No barrier. There was just fresh snow. No time to waste. A bond encompassing the innocence of childhood; an innocence cemented with a warm mitt for chilled fingers.
John Spencer is the mayor of Channel-Port aux Basques and a proud grandfather.