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On The Beer

mark wood

by Mark Wood

A Tribute to a Great Friend

The full moon peeks through the frozen clouds and sleet whips across from the east. Not fit for a sled dog to be out on a night like this so we've realized our mortality and gratefully accepted Smokin' Joe's offer to socialize in his shed. It's extremely cozy here with a roaring wood stove, fridge full of home brew and the usual crew of colourful characters, except for one. One of our own passed away recently and we will honour him with toasts, as is our custom. He was Ben Squires, backhoe operator extraordinaire.

Smokin' Joe: "Ben once said there wasn't a back yard in this town that he didn't dig up, and he was good too. He could scratch your back with that machine."

Jimmy Two Fires: "Indeed he could, like he and the backhoe were one entity."

We drained and filled our mugs, Ben knew the whole town and the whole town knew him. He was famous, really good at what he did and he was fun to be around. Everybody smiled when he walked into the store.

Smokin' Joe: "He was always working, digging all summer and clearing snow all winter, never stopped."

Jimmy Two Fires: "Remember that time last July? He dug up around Dennis' house, the b'ys showed up and we all got on the beer."

For some of us that was the last time with him.

I had a birthday recently and the symbolism of blowing out birthday candles really struck me.

A flame is the symbol of life, you make a wish and blow it out. One day you're here, the next you're not.

The funeral procession for Ben had a contingent of backhoes, as befits a man of his honor.

Mark is also a regular columnist with The Independent (.ca) newspaper.