Hardship Post.jpg

Undated notebook entry, re. The Hardship Post

On summer mornings we’d meet in a place we called the Purple Passion, a middle-of-nowhere bridge that crosses the upper Kennebecasis River near Sussex, NB. We were the only ones who called it that. My father’s friend, Len Cunningham, named it for the purple curtains in the window of a cabin beside the stream where he imagined passionate things happened. Why else would a person hang curtains that colour?



Early one evening in late summer, just as the mosquitoes begin rising from marshes along the banks of the St. John River, we park our cars and pickups six rows deep in the dirt lot, two deep on the lawn, and shoulder to shoulder all the way out to the highway. We have come from points up and down the valley to a warehouse in the community of Maugerville, on the outskirts of Fredericton, to take part in what has become a weekly ritual in these parts: Mark Sloat's Thursday night public auction.



Salt-drenched air blows through the open doors of a pub on the Halifax waterfront during the sleepy afternoon hours before the weekend begins. The dinner crowd hasn't yet arrived. The patrons who knocked off work early are scattered in booths, nursing draft beer and watching golf on TV. On the music stage, a sound man is working slowly, raising microphone stands and running cables to a mixer. Outside in a small courtyard behind the pub, a thin man in a black cowboy hat, jean jacket and scuffed suede western boots paces and smokes a cigarette.