Usually, when I talk to someone about a story for the paper, I have a pretty good idea what the story is going to be about. I’ve read a press release, or seen a social media post, or already spoken with someone about it to get the gist, so by the time I’m interviewing someone I have a list of questions to ask and points to cover. In my head, the skeleton of the story has already been assembled; now I’m looking for all the details that are going to flesh it out.
As the poet said, however, the best laid plans of mice and men oft go awry. (Robbie Burns actually said that they “gang aft a-gley”, but most folks go with the English translation for the sake of clarity.) I had heard, at a Clinton council meeting in February, that the Clinton Annual Ball committee’s request for use of the Memorial Hall in May for this year’s 155th ball had been withdrawn, as the ball was not going ahead after all, so made a mental note to follow this up. In my head, the story was already composing itself: hopeful volunteers planning the event after two years of it being cancelled; plans dashed due to continuing restrictions; optimism that it would be able to return (at last!) in 2023; thanks to all those who continued to support the ball; etc.
Those were the bare bones, to be fleshed out after I spoke with someone on the committee. So when I called John Boscott to get the details, you can imagine my surprise when almost his first words were “It’s going ahead after all.” That crashing sound you heard was the skeleton of my story, collapsing into an untidy heap on the floor.
This might make it sound as if I was annoyed. Far from it: I was thrilled to be able to take a bunch of lemons and make not just lemonade, but a delicious lemon meringue pie as well. After two years of seeing so many beloved local events cancelled, postponed, or only going ahead in an online format about which the best that can be said is “I guess it’s better than nothing,” it was a delight to be able to tear my original story apart and build back better.
And the Clinton Ball is only one of several events that will be returning after a too-long hiatus. Graffiti Days is coming back to Cache Creek in June, and the musical line-up for Desert Daze — live in Spences Bridge in September — is being finalized as I write. In addition to the ball, Clinton will see a rodeo parade and rodeo on the weekend of May 28. The Ashcroft Arts Club is planning their traditional show for April; the Clinton Country Artists and Clinton Art and Cultural Society will be following with live art shows in June and July respectively.
This is all just in our little corner of the province, and I’m sure there’s more to come in the next few weeks and months, both here and in the wider world. Of course, there’s a chance things might be derailed by events outside anyone’s control — as evidence I give you summer 2021 — but for now there’s cautious optimism in the air.
And like the first tendrils of green grass shooting up after winter, we’ve already started seeing evidence that things might — just might — be returning to something like normal. Last week the Clinton Seniors’ Association held their annual Daffodil Tea for the first time since 2020, and it was so successful that the event sold out and organizers had to stop taking orders.
The Daffodil Tea in March 2020 was the last community event held in Clinton before the pandemic shut everything down, so it’s fitting that it was the first to return now that things are looking more hopeful. The excellent response is heartening as well; a sign, one hopes, that all these other returning events will be well-supported by people eager to make up for lost time. As another poet — Joni Mitchell — wisely noted, you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.