As a teacher, I’m fortunate to be able to spend school breaks in Fernie. In summer this means eight relaxing weeks of river-rafting, disc-golf in James White Park and bike rides up to Mount Fernie Provincial Park.
Things get dodgy in winter, though, when my status is downgraded to part-timer. I find myself jamming my city-bound duties into five never-ending days just to get to those golden forty-four weekend Fernie hours.
When in town on a lazy summer day or in a frenzied winter rush, my visits to Freshies have always been scheduled in ink. From my very first visit back in 2007, Freshies was the place to meet. Within its rough brick and warm yellow walls, I attended my first author reading, was interviewed for the local paper and was offered a position as a Fernie Writers’ Conference instructor. As time went on, I met more and more locals and became a whiz at picking out the tourists.
Often, my coffee (or tea) date and I just sat and sipped in front of our plates of home-baked goods and soaked up the chatter of children playing in the front window while their parents (often holding newborns—you know what I’m talking about!) told war stories of the latest snow day or maybe that black bear on the bike trail; or the city guys, talking about snow removal, or road construction; or the sound of laughter coming from the till as another customer was teased and made welcome.
Freshies is the place I brought my five-year-old daughter on warm summer days when she was still too young to attend Adventure Camp. Adventure Camp? Pshaw! Soon I had a little Freshie Fan begging to go back. She’d arrive with her Barbie backpack filled with colouring books and paper and crayons. First order of business: grab a juicebox from the cooler, then find a place to settle in and colour replicas of all the hand-painted tiles inlaid in the tables as mom yapped to her friends.
So I must admit, I’m a little sad to hear of Freshies’ relocation. It’s been a great touchstone for an out-of-towner. More than a coffee shop, it’s a place to gather and regroup. Come “home,” if only for an hour. Or three.
Pushing aside these maudlin feelings, I think of the day I brought my little girl in for a lunch date. She has a nut allergy, and we weren’t sure we should risk a cross-contamination allergic reaction. When I spoke to Kim about it, she immediately went in the back and found nut-free wraps and fresh veggies. No problem. Soup? Check. Wiping down the prep area, just to be safe? Yep, of course. And throughout the discussion, she included my daughter, asking what she liked, and is this okay? How about that?
You’ve never seen a bigger smile on a little girl. She belonged. This was her place.
In the end, it doesn’t matter where Freshies is — that vibe you get, that heart — comes from the people that run it.
Best of luck! We can’t wait to check out the new digs.
Meet you at Freshies!
– Kim McCullough