The soft spot

I think I’ve found it.

The place I can’t stop thinking about.

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It’s a little town called Hedley,

here in British Columbia,

beside the Similkameen River

planted in the Similkameen Valley.

It’s an old mining town that was built on grit and gumption,

dirt

and sweat

and all the stuff in between.

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Hedley became famous when gold was discovered in 1897, and by 1900, was a town of over one thousand people, with five hotels, and a large stamp mill.

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photo courtesy of the Hedley Heritage Museum Society

Now the population is approximately 350.

Unfortunately, between 1956 and 1957, there were several disastrous fires and this, along with decreasing ore production from the mines, led to Hedley’s decline.

Today though, it is a little gem of a town with a very warm heart.

We’ve been camping there since our kids were little.  My husband has been camping there since he was little.

The place holds memories for us.

You know the phrase, “you’ll always have a soft spot in my heart,”?

Well, that’s how I feel about Hedley.

And if you travel down B.C.’s Highway 3, you’ll know you’ve arrived at the place I’m talking about

when you see the light,

 the varying degrees of it that filter through the town –

and the way it

and the shadows,

and all the hues and tones of orange and brown and rust,

mingle together

at dusk.

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You’ll also know it by the quiet.

The quiet that’s like a small-beaked bird tucked in a hoary nest.

 That’s like a

curled-up wisp of a feather lying on the hot, gritty pavement.

You’ll know what I’m talking about when you walk down the main street,

or visit the church that sits

overlooking

the rest of the valley

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You’ll know it because you can’t hear the ghosts of those

who lie here

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 Because it feels like they’re resting.

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And when the sun slides down

behind the valley’s hills,

and the crickets stop catapulting themselves in the fields,

and the cool of evening lies down on the long hot grass,

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and you feel like everything is finally right with the world,

you’ll know you’ve arrived at the place I’m talking about.