I have known James for a long time. We first met at a shared house located on the corner of Cambie and King Edward streets in Vancouver. The house was behind a thick row of trees but you could still hear the traffic from the busy intersection. At night things became quieter except for the occasional shriek and sudden crunch of metal. In the morning if you went to the curbside you could usually pick up a dustpan or two of shattered windshield.
The house was a casual collection of five and sometimes six people. When someone left the remaining tenants would put up ads to look for a replacement. James saw one of the adds, called, and was asked to come and present himself to see if he would fit into the mix. When he arrived the other tenants (all women at that time) were gathered in the kitchen making chocolate truffles. "Gosh" he remarked, "What do I need to do to get a place here?"
The summer I was in the house James was seldom there. He was travelling through northern British Columbia and the Yukon, hand panning for gold. He had a little film canister filled with small nuggets. He would hold it next to his ear and shake it as he tilted his head. Undoubtedly it held more than bits and flakes of precious metal - worth surprisingly little given the central role of gold in so many plots - for him it was more like he was shaking out the sound of his entire summer spend kneeling in creek and river beds.