Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Like a Frozen Puck to the Head

So last night while trying to figure out the best way to approach a particularly tricky intersection, I turned on the tube and saw EDMONTON in the Stanley Cup Finals!

As you may know, I lived in Edmonton for 3 years.

The game and its requisite clips of the cities involved stirred me into a case of Terminal Canadiana.

When I was 22, I moved to Edmonton, Alberta with very little forethought. (Well, Mr. Probert was moving there and since he is sooo dreamy and I was otherwise unemployed, I figured, why not?)

Edmonton is a small city that feels like a small town- with kids that walk to school and quiet streets on hockey night- even when the Oilers are losing.

I showed up with my dog, my passport and an engineering degree and found this amazing city where I was welcomed with open arms and open spaces. The beautiful elm lined grid system streets had great public transportation which was nice considering I did not have a car.

I have Edmonton to thank for my career. I didn't care what kind of job I had, as long as it paid and could get me a work permit. The first offer came in Land Development, and I took it. It was with a little engineering firm you might have heard of called Stantec. I am not sure what possessed me to leave Stantec... perhaps I thought that the first open pasture gate could not possibly lead to the best grazing, and I was young and restless and wide eyed and I wanted to see what I could do. But those pastures were only greener for a little while, and then they turned into thistle, but by then it was too late.

But Stantec was a great place to learn land development and discover my CAD identity. Canadian cities have amazing Urban Planning- and their municipal standards books are better than any engineering textbook I have ever had. I still keep them on my desk.

I wish I could go back and see all of those wonderful people who put up with me and who I owe so much- Vic, Cathy and the incredibly talented technology staff who didn't kill me when I exploded their attributed blocks and elaborate customizations.

Brian, Shauna, Shannon and the other LA's who taught me that Landscape Architecture has nothing to do with garden design, but truly influences the neighborhood more than almost anything else.

Tanis, an amazing PE and mentor that I wish I had spent more time with taught me that there is no point to "having it all"- kids and career, if you spend so much time fussing over trying to be perfect that you can't throw your head back and laugh and laugh more often than not.

Amanda and Dave who shared my twenty-something angst, my restlessness and my cubicle and became lifelong penpals (who I need to write to, come to think of it)

Althought I can kick myself for leaving Stantec, I would never have met Robyn, a CAD tech turned Nurse. Amoungst the AMAZING things Robyn has taught me, the most important is that:

You can drive all the way from Regina to Moose Jaw with the Gas Warning Light flashing in a Toyota Echo. (A phrase I repeated to myself this morning on Route 1 when my Echo gas light started up)

Edmonton is a truly beautiful place. My favorite part is taking a bus over the High Level Bridge and looking out over the River Valley with its slow, lazy brown water and magnificent tumbling sand banks. The sand was red, yellow, brown... full autumn colors all year round.

Later, when we left our South Side apartment and moved out towards Devon to a lovely but crumbling farmette which was a two minute trot to the most magnificent trail riding I have ever done in my life. I miss waking up to coyotes in the compost pile, the occasional moose in the pasture and phone calls from the RCMP about bears in the area.

Canada taught to never complain about cold weather, snow or gas prices- just put on a coat, grab your boots and take the bus. I learned that yogurt is better there, and Swiss Chalet is a place I could eat every night. I miss Captain Tractor... skating outdoors and the urban elk in Banff. I miss Superstore, Cadbury Vending Machines and Fuzzy Peach.

In the end, I am not sure what stirred in me to leave Canada. Perhaps it was because I could never bring myself to spend my Toonies (too pretty) and carrying around all that change gave me a backache... Or I could blame the GST... but I am much better off back in the US where I can vote republican and drive in miles per hour.

I think the deciding factor was at my wedding in Banff when we came to meet my family at a restaurant. We walked in and described the group to the hostess. She looked blank. When I said "They are American" she immediately pointed to a table of rowdies in the back. I don't think I ever blushed so hard- perhaps I didn't really fit in as well as I thought.

I am jealous of my daughter who can someday move there if she chooses, and not only be welcomed there, but truly belong as a native daughter.

So, enough of the nostalgie... but I leave you with my favorite beer commerical poem of all time. GO OILERS!!

Here's to You

Here's to you Canada
Here's to your hockey hair
Your long underwear
And multi coloured money
Here's to saying please
Your ducks and geese
And always being funny
Here's to open spaces
Away from rat races
And a beer that quenches the thirst
Here's to being proud
And saying it loud
Even when you don't come first
Here's to your pretty girls
Your black coloured squirrels
And a flag that stands so free
Here's to different races
From different places
Who love this country - like me
But most of all Here's to standing tall and saying it like a true Acadian
"I love this land, I love this country", and "I am Canadian!" Cheers!