Postcards from the road

I just got back from an amazing road trip.

And I’m feeling as self-satisfied as this little fellow I found laying about on the top of a pile of gift cards in a flower shop in Wainwright.

He’s only about an inch long and he looks so fat and pleased with himself that I couldn’t resist him. I call him Templeton.

Anyway . . . back to the road trip.

3 days

1,410.8 kilometers

25 stops

12 towns

115 copies of Leaf finding new homes out in the great, wide world

 I was heading to Saskatchewan to help my parents clean up their new home in Prince Albert. Possession date was Thursday, so I left home on Wednesday morning with a plan to stop in at a few places enroute. Mom phoned Tuesday night to say the possession date had been moved back a week, but since I had already called ahead to a few places, I decided to make part of the trip anyway.

I drove in a big loop from Didsbury to Saskatoon to North Battleford and back home again,  stopping at every town big enough to have a gift store.

My first sale was at Country Charms Flowers and Gifts in Hanna, AB. Jodi, the lovely young owner of the shop, took half a box of books! I had similar success at Scott’s Jewellers in Kindersley, SK and Wild Oats Gift and Decor in Rosetown, an amazing new store poised to open in 4 days (today, actually, as I write this).

Their building looked like Santa’s elves were in the middle of a free-for-all. There were boxes everywhere in various stages of unpacking. If you are ever traveling through Rosetown, be sure to stop at Wild Oats. Even in all that disarray, I could see that the store would be filled with lots and lots of lovely things.

I found the people in the smaller towns very receptive, willing to buy copies of Leaf outright rather than do the pesky consignment thing. Unlike McNally Robinson, in Saskatoon, who has a protocol to follow that will probably end in consignment, but which hasn’t even got started yet because the person I need to talk to is away until Thursday.

BUT on the way back home via North Battleford, I found homes for Leaf at Crandleberry’s, a coffee shop/bookstore in North Battleford, SK, the Maidstone Pharmacy in Maidstone, SK and Toys and Treasures in Wainwright, AB. I also have several follow-up calls to make to owners who were out when I stopped in.

But this road map tells you nothing really. The juice is in the stops along the way.

Wednesday evening I met my aunt, cousin and second cousin for dinner. We hadn’t seen each other in over 20 years (which means, of course, that I’d never had the pleasure of meeting 10 year old Bryce) but, thanks to Leaf, we reconnected and had a wonderful dinner together. I’m ashamed to say that had my aunt not contacted me about getting a copy of Leaf, we probably would have gone the rest of our lives without seeing each other. Once again, I owe a good thing in my life to this amazing, little book.

That night I travelled on to my friend, Allison’s, home in North Battleford and the next morning, after a huge, nourishing pajama-clad conversation, I gave her a copy of my book to read while I had a got ready for the day. There were tears in her voice when she finished.

“This is Nico,” she said.

Her son died just this spring after a seven year battle with cancer. I was teary-eyed myself and so glad that Leaf’s story had touched her. She thought Leaf should be in the waiting room of every funeral home and in the package families received from the cancer society. She asked me to leave her a box of books.

At a quarter to 12:00, I left Allison’s home, intending to pop in on another friend who owns the Taco Time in North Battleford. I knew Tammey would be busy with the noon rush, but I also knew she was excited to see my book. I quickly said ‘hello’ as I ordered my veggie burrito and settled in a quiet corner to eat and wait for a moment to chat. I thought I’d be in and out in half an hour.

I was there for 2 hours.

Tammey bought 18 books! Some for her family and one for every single one of  her staff. She brought the ladies over one by one to meet me and tell me who to dedicate their book to. Several of them were from the Philippines and were working to bring their families over to Canada. They hadn’t seen their children for two years and were on the cusp of being allowed to finally bring their families over to Canada. I signed several books to those children.

As if that wasn’t enough, Tammey single-handedly sold several more books to people who came in to the store for lunch that day.

When she handed me the cheque for the books, she looked me in the eye and said, “I’m very proud of you. And I will have nothing to do with a discount.” And I, in all my eloquence, replied with a sniffle, “How am I supposed to drive with tears in my eyes?” And then we laughed and cried some more. It was a very touching Taco Time moment.

In the middle of all the book signing, Allison showed up (I don’t know how she knew I’d still be there – HA!) with an ad she had just picked up for an upcoming Art Salon at the City Hall Art Studio. On a whim, I went to check it out and am proud to announce that Leaf will be on display at the North Battleford Art Salon from September 30 – October 2 and there are also 10 copies of Leaf for sale in the Allen Sap Art Gallery in North Battleford.

By the time I was done with all my stops, it was 4:00 – too late to head out on the road – so I called Allison to see if I could spend another night. She was hosting her women’s group that night and proceeded to make sure that every single one of the 10 women in the room read the book. Three of them bought copies of Leaf that very night.

The next morning, I was gone by 9:00, determined to get home by nightfall. I had been given instructions by my friend, Maggie, to drop some books off in the cab of a tractor hooked up to the auger near the grain bins, through the driveway on the east and along the road to the west. The cheque would be in the cab.

Stephen just laughed when he heard the plan. “You’ll never find the farm, let alone the tractor,” he said.

He was right.

I ended up dropping off the books at the home of a mutual friend in Paynton where I got to have tea and another good, catch-up chat with Denise.

On to Maidstone, where I taught at the elementary school 1000 years ago, and where I chatted with the young woman renovating the building she had just bought to open a flower shop. The young woman was the daughter of one of Stephen’s childhood friends. In fact, Stephen had been in his wedding party. Small world!

In Vermilion, I stopped at a lovely quilt store in the mall. The owner wasn’t there so I showed Leaf to the salesclerk, Rosanne, and then left my card for the owner. On the way out, I was sidetracked by a chocolate shop called Seratonin. (Isn’t that a perfect name for a chocolate store?) When I got back to my van, Rosanne came running out the back door of the mall, hoping to catch me before I left. She had decided she wanted a copy of Leaf for herself.

So many stories. So many laughs. So many tears.

I never could have imagined the richness this adventure would bring me. The people it would bring back in to my life. The lives Leaf’s story would touch.

I am so grateful.

And it’s only, really just begun.

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4 Responses to Postcards from the road

  1. Yvonne says:

    Tough to write this comment when I now have tears in my eyes. How amazing those adventures. The power of your book is so evident. Well done Maxine.

  2. Janice says:

    Maxine, I had just read your blog and was touched by your adventures to Saskatchewan. When you mentioned Taco Time in North Battleford, I knew it would be Tammy and could only imagine the warm welcome you would receive. Leaf is travelling and that is how it should be.
    Janice S.

    • maxinespence says:

      Hi Janice! Thanks for stopping by . . . and for leaving a note. Yes, Tammey is amazing, isn’t she? I’m sure there are a lot of people who stop in at the Taco Time to eat as much for the nourishment of Tammey’s presence as for the food itself.

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