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Of weddings, small town Ontario, and cover art.

A very busy weekend!

The publisher unveiled the cover reveal for my forthcoming collection on Friday. Live Nude Aliens and other Stories collects tales old and brand-new, and includes SF, literary slipstream, fantasy, and a ghost story. I really like Dan Barrick's wraparound cover, aliens and humans gathered in a bar on the outskirts of reality. The front cover features a Whistler from "Flying Whistle Stop," an Aseneith child from "The Shade at Aseneith" (peering through the window), a corb from "Let There Be," and Patti Washington and Chelsea Ashe from The Con, who reappear in the title story. The artist cast me as the bartender, which is a nice touch. The back cover features another Whistler and Zacariah Langostino from "The Count." A careful observer will notice a tiny albino crab; the species appears in both "Crabbing in Worley" and also in the title tale.

Since the book isn't out until March of 2022, all of this serves as prologue to a drive down a highway and through winding rural roads to Elora, Ontario, for the wedding of my niece. I'm not a fan of night driving, and if I'd looked more carefully at the map, I would have immediately spotted the less circuitous if perhaps slightly longer route we took on the way back. Googlemaps remains an imprecise tool. Occasionally, I suspect, it leads people dangerously astray.

Before we left I spoke to an old friend who lives in BC. He has avoided most of the natural disasters that have recently befallen that province. That is good for him. It is not good for a great many others. But we have more opportunity in this part of the world to make good lives, knowing the darkness might drop at any moment.

Despite literal darkness, we made it to the site of the wedding. Many people get married in Elora. The small tourist town features a venue of regional renown. We didn't actually stay there, though the bride and groom and the wedding party did. Most overnight guests found accommodations in nearby Fergus, Ontario. It's a similar-looking town, quaint but not trying too hard like its famous neighbour. They're closely situated; you could walk from one to the other in a little over an hour.

Fergus's heritage is as Scottish as the name. It holds annual Highland Games. A large Presbyterian Church overlooks downtown from the top of a hill.

In our region, older buildings trend to bricks, notably the yellow bricks for which southwestern Ontario is known. Fergus and Elora sit nearer to the Niagara Escarpment, so a lot more of the buildings have been made from stone. The older buildings have been built to last ages. The newer hotel, by comparison, feels like it's just passing through.

One has to drive to the far end of town to get to it.

That's not very far.

While we drove my wife read a county newspaper she'd picked up. An event of interest was taking place in the near future, but the coverage failed to identify the hosting town. "They just name a square," she said, "and assume everyone knows."

Most of my account of the wedding must remain private. I definitely won't mention the unknown couple further down our floor who were having thundering enough intimacy for several honeymoons. But we reconnected with family and friends and engaged in something relatively normal, notwithstanding the requirement of a double-vaccination and the presence of masks. My brother told a story of having to pick up his daughter's rather weighty dress in Toronto. He walked back to his car and people stared; he appeared to be carrying a body in a shroud.

During their first dance, the bride and groom spontaneously kissed. We have public marriage ceremonies to affirm the couple, to promise to support them as a community (all couples need the occasional support of a community), and to celebrate and have a good time, because why shouldn't we have a good time?

But I also think we attend to catch a moment like that kiss on the dance floor and remember we can feel like that.


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