Sunday, May 29, 2011

Honouring military spouses

This past Friday evening I had the pleasure of being the guest speaker at a formal dinner to honour military spouses in Yellowknife.

Given the audience, I decided to read “Grey Day, Grey Trout,” a personal essay about the first time I went fishing with Pierre in the East Arm of Great Slave Lake. I don’t want to give away the storyline, but let’s just say that the whole fishing experience was frustrating in the extreme, what with the way the lake trout kept pestering me and interrupting my reading. Pépé and our friend Louis were very generous with their advice throughout the day. They had plenty of opportunity to “coach” me, since there were no fish distracting them by biting their lures. But I digress.

I’d never been to a formal military dinner, much less been the “honoured guest,” which seems to have a specific meaning in the military world. (I thought they were just being polite when they called me that.) I sat at the head table with the Commanding Officer, Brigadier-General Guy Hamel, and his wife Nicola. While the first course was being served, I sat politely waiting for someone important to start eating so I could break into my beef consommé en croûte. Turns out I was the “important” person everyone was waiting for. Go figure.

It was a wonderful experience for me and Pierre. The folks at Joint Task Force North were a fabulous audience, laughing at all the right spots while I was reading. During the breaks they were friendly and welcoming. I was happy to participate in the event, which acknowledged the important contributions of spouses to military life. Many thanks to Major Steve Wright, President of the Mess Committee, for inviting me to speak, and to General Hamel and Nicola Hamel for a great evening.