January 6 was opening day for the Archives. Volunteers started back at work on the following Tuesday. They’d been off for a month. I’d given them an extended holiday because I had needed some time alone to work on two grant applications and do my end of the year thank you letters. I’d also planned to take some of my holidays.

It snowed an awful a lot on Monday. Leona was the first to contact me.

“May I come in on Wednesday?” She typed in an email. “It will be a nice break from shovelling snow. Our snow banks are over my head now and I am having trouble throwing the snow higher. I want to get back to my filing cabinets.”

“Of course,” I responded, knowing Leona had an all-wheel drive car and was used to driving up Larch Hills to ski. Surely by Wednesday all would be under control.

A little later I called Pat, my volunteer who had moved from sunnier climes. I warned her about the snow and that the roads hadn’t been plowed.

“Then I’ll just stay home tomorrow,” she said, her tone cheery. “I have lots I can do at home.”

On Tuesday I called Greg my newest, but extremely dedicated three-day-a-week person. It was one of his days to come into the archives. Greg’s wife Mary answered the phone.

“Greg’s outside clearing off the driveway,” she said.

“Tell him it is ugly out here. The road in hasn’t been plowed and I chose to walk in to work. It isn’t really safe for volunteers,” I told her. “He should stay home.”

“Oh no,” Mary said. “He needs to come to work.”

That’s the word all my volunteers use for their time spent in the archives. What they do is work. It is a job.

What could I say? Greg has a four-wheel drive and is over 21.

“Tell him to park in my spot,” I said. It is close to the museum. “I didn’t drive myself in.”

Mary went on to tell me that she had broken her ankle and two toes walking the dog last week. The air cast didn’t stop her packing Greg a lunch. Mary really wanted the day to herself!

Greg spent the day getting caught up on what felt like was months of obituaries, just one of his many jobs.

Caretaker Ted McTaggart fired up his tractor. General Manager Susan Mackie called in Bruce Mackie to plow the road and move snow.

Wednesday rolled around and, when I got to work, I started thinking about who was coming in. The roads were plowed but not sanded. I called Gloria. It was her usual day.

“Gloria, the path is hard plowed snow and slippery,” I started. I had got my husband to salt the steps but it was slick in the plowed areas. Gloria has a cute new hybrid. She had told me her car was light and sometimes got stuck when conditions were bad.

“I don’t think you should come in,” I said.

I was worried about all my volunteers walking from their cars into the front door of the museum.

“This place wasn’t well thought out for winter access,” I told Gloria. “Lise cannot come in under these conditions. A fall could be life changing even for me,” I said. Lise was recovering from a fractured humerus. Nothing funny about that.

“That’s disappointing,” Gloria said. I told her I had to agree. I had newspaper records for her to find for a lepidopterist researching an historic colleague who had lived in Salmon Arm.

Then Jean called. “Are you open?” She asked.

“Yes, but the conditions aren’t great,” I told her. “The road is plowed but not sanded. It is slippery. I just told Gloria to stay home.”

There was silence.

“Len wants me to come in,” she said of her better half. There seemed to be a theme developing. Retired spouses wanted their partners to go to work for the day.

Greg came in again with his lunch cooler and six boxes of photos I’d arranged for him to pick up from the new Publisher at the Observer. Someone had put them aside for us because the newspaper was moving. RJ Haney was written on the outsides of the boxes like they belonged to us. Curious, Greg and I went through them, figuring a line of attack. There were mug shots, other shots, slides, and a few organizational publications. We decided what Greg could scan right away, reserving the mug shots for Lise to accession after Leona scanned them.

Pat showed up with her ice cleats on. She was prepared so I had to get organized and start her on a new collection, the first piece of accessioning for 2020. Yearbooks! An appropriate project for the new year.

Leona came in a little while later. She knew the project she had left and was continuing with that work, the Forest Service aerial photographs, putting the drawers in order by flight line. She had ¾ of the work done and would be busy for a couple of weeks.

Nancy arrived and wanted to know where people were working. She had showed up around the time two City of Salmon Arm Community Heritage Commission volunteers, Linda and Patti, were working at a computer. They were working unsupervised on their own project, the Commission’s heritage inventory.

Nancy was right. Greg was scanning, Jean was inputting, I was logged on to do Gloria’s job. That left Lise’s computer.

“She won’t be here today or tomorrow,” I announced. Lise had to take care of her broken arm, had a physio appointment, and had to attend other appointments out of town.

It was a houseful but people were Missing in Action. Marlene was off in Arizona, so didn’t show up. Also MIA was Anne, who takes winters off so she does not have to deal with the roads at Haney. Doreen was having a flex day, driving a relative to the airport. We’re flexible with our volunteers and their commitments to family.

It was a hard day of work, getting some organized on new projects, answering questions, and looking up Gloria’s newspaper records for a researcher. Remind me. Why did I give her the day off?

Leaving for the day, I spoke to Susan upstairs. I told her it was an exhausting day, but I know I was smiling.

Susan agreed. “You aren’t used to having them around,” she said. “They like working here.”

I had to agree. So, after careful review, I will give them their annual raises. They are all hardworking and precious because they volunteer, but raises still have to be carefully considered. I decided on a percentage of course, but more than the cost of living. They deserve it.