Photography by Ian Spence

Small towns can be peaceful, quiet, and offer needed solitude. You notice the wind in the trees, the music of leaves. Friendly, you say hello to everyone.

Two boys, 14 and 15, walking down a road of my small town. Holding hands, laughing, close, movements with meaning: a couple in love. As occurs naturally when I see a happy couple, my mouth unfolds in a smile.

For a minute, I forget that my reaction in this small town is one likely standing alone. Then I remember, and I feel vicissitude. I begin to look around, feeling a sense of panic, a hissing in the tall grass. Don’t they know? I fear for them, I feel protective.

But no one has noticed them. Yet. The innocent courage of their act, holding hands in my small town. This is Canada, 2011. Holding hands in public. It should not have to be courageous, it should just be. I hang onto this brief time with them; celebrate their momentary freedom.

Light lifts; birds without a sound take off from a quiet field. The shadow of a cloud slips over a meadow. Waves tumble on a shore, recede and return, a rhythm of soothing. A shooting star arcs silently in brilliance and is gone. The hum of insects. The quiet of night.

To teach the small towns.

To celebrate the boys.

To give them comfort.

That peace.