"So what's up?" Keitha says, leaning into the open window on the passenger side of my little, red car. Her long grey-silver hair is pulled away from her face and clipped with a beautifully beaded feather. She is wearing a cotton shirt, with flowing flowers and a long, grey sleeveless cardigan.
"Should we go for a drive?" I say.
"Sure." Keitha opens the car door.
"Your hair is so beautiful," I say. "I love the colours in your shirt, too."
Keitha sits beside me. "People are nicer to me when I'm beautiful," she says.
I laugh, and then laugh harder. Keitha grins and then giggles.
"I'm not feeling very beautiful," I say.
"You are beautiful," Keitha says.
We laugh some more as I pull out from her house.
This is a typical conversation between Keitha and me. I don't understand why we make each other laugh, I am just thankful for this gift.
We had been planning to attend an Outreach board meeting, but when it was cancelled, we move on to Plan B, go for a drive.
We have another good giggle in the Tim Horton's drive thru when I think I've already paid with my Tim's card and there is $1.55 remaining, but it's actually that there is only $1.55 remaining, which won't pay for our coffees, so I still have to pay.
Then, we start driving for Katepwa, and I'm driving slowly, listening to some of Keitha's dreams for our Community Outreach. A year ago, I had agreed to serve as Vice President when Keitha had agreed to be the President. For our next meeting I have been researching "Strategic Planning", and I tell Keitha that her dreams will lead us.
We sit on the bench at the edge of Katepwa Lake beach. There is a slight breeze; the sun is lower in the sky, sending golden light; kids are playing in the water; a mother and daughter are digging in the sand; families are out for walks on pathways through the green grass.
Keitha tells me about finishing Thomas King's Medicine River and how Coyote is her favourite character, making trouble, making fun. I read the book so long ago, I'm thinking it's about Cree or Salteaux people, but Keitha reminds me that it is Blackfoot from Alberta. I tell her that I'm still reading King's The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America. Keitha was hoping I'd be finished because she wants to read it next.
We talk about writing, forgiving ourselves, sharing our stories, helping others, old friends, our families, and then Keitha says, "I guess we can go anytime now."
We follow the winding road to Fort Qu'Appelle, along Katepwa Lake, then Mission Lake, with the sun blinding us all the way. But when we look to the left, the lakes are shivering blue glass, the clouds are white wispy horsetails, the hills are giant green gardens.
As Echo Lake appears, it seems to me the valley echoes the Treaty promise, "as long as the grass grows, the sun shines, the rivers flow", and I think about the fourth of the Fishing Lakes, Pasqua Lake -- named for Keitha's great grandfather, Chief Ben Pasqua -- further down the valley.
We turn into Fort Qu'Appelle, and I have to start concentrating on my driving because too often I miss the turn to Keitha's house because I'm blabbing about something. Keitha always lets me drive past, and waits with a coyote grin, for me to realize I've missed the turn. I don't miss it today, but we are both grinning, knowing how hard I am focusing so that I make the right turn in this small, small Saskatchewan town.