Twenty years ago I came to Vancouver to go to grad school at UBC. I never left, Vancouver that is (I did, however, finish my graduate studies). To me, Vancouver was a postcard perfect place, so why would I ever leave? The weather is warm(ish) all year round, so much so that parkas are relegated to skiing or snow-shoeing. Cold is ten below, not thirty … No one has to plug in their car, unless it is electric. So there is no need to dangle an extension cord from house to tree to parking spot to attach one’s block-heater; our cars don’t have block-heaters. There are almost no mosquitoes, not really, not prairie mosquitoes who feast like starving vultures on unsuspecting children. And the wind … well, it’s light, predictable, and infrequent. But what about the rain, people ask … it makes things green, I say, and besides you don’t have to shovel rain.
The first week of our summer vacation, I took my two youngest children aboard a very small and movie-barren flight to Regina where my parents greeted us and drove us all back to Moose Jaw, the city I grew up in. The first night it was thirty-three degrees, the wind shrieked around the trees and lightning lit up the night sky in a blaze of fire-works. It was fantastic. Far more drama than what we are used to at home, and for me, it smelled and felt like my childhood. For the kids it was a great and fantastic show.
All that was familiar to me, is exotic to my children … a giant concrete moose …
… wind that drives the leaves of a tree sideways,
And horizons and sky like no other.
New to them were pocked roads, insect spray, and gopher holes. Finn found three gophers too, but they wouldn’t sick around for a photo. And then they walked my dad’s dog Twinkle.
We took them to the Natatorium where I’d cool off as a child on scorching summer days.
But mostly, being there was about the people, not about the landscape, the weather, or tourist attractions (which they have quite a few). This trip to the ‘Jaw’, was about connecting with our prairie roots, reminding them where some of their people are from.
It is good to be from Moose Jaw, from Saskatchewan; just as it is good to be home here in Vancouver.
(A link to more 2011 Moose Jaw Photos here.)