Calgary: Land of Extremes

I am coming to the end of my time here in Calgary and have enjoyed every last minute of it.  The land and the people welcomed me in and I had lots of magical experiences here.  The first time I came to Calgary in December, a snow storm started just hours after I landed and all of the sudden, everything was white with the swirling stuff.  I was entranced as we were driving the Deerfoot (one of what seems like a tangle of a gazillion highways that run around and through the city).  This time, I have come in the heat of the summer and everything is green and lush after the most rainfall they’ve had in a long time for this time of the year.  And I am happy to report that Terra and I FINALLY saw deer on the Deerfoot yesterday when when we were driving out to Water Valley so it is not a misnomer! The land is vast and while driving with Terra, I was so moved by the landscape and all the possibilities that I started crying.  We saw horses, moose, black hawks, magpies, coyotes, and we even stopped to move a fox off the road that had been hit and said prayers over his body wishing him well where ever he was going next.

The people of Calgary are like the weather.  They seem to have two modes: totally relax and work hard.  Not much in between.  Ha!  The land and weather are extreme here in Calgary with chinooks, stormclouds and winds coming out of nowhere and ending as soon as they began.  The people are exciting and surprising.  I never can quite predict what they will do or say and it is fair to declare that I stick out rather remarkedly coming from Vancouver- the land of oceans, mountains and flow.

People seem to tell that I am not quite from here.  My friend (Stewart) and I went to the Water Valley Celtic Festival on Saturday to listen to music.  I learned quite quickly that the people here are quite conservative when it comes to physical and vocal expression.  Dancing, singing along, and hooting and hollering during performances were met with icy stares and closed body postures.  The performers seemed delighted at the addition of joyful energy so I persisted.  I knew from my years of singing with the Universal Gospel Choir that expression is a natural part of being human.  We have just been conditioned out of doing it for social reasons.  Often, all that is needed is an invitation to move and sing and participate and people are in there like swimwear.  I am happy to report that many of these frozen folks melted enough to allow their feet to tap and their hands to clap to the Celtic dancers, singers, and drummers’ joyful performances.

When we returned to Calgary, we were dehydrated and in need of a nap but it was well worth it.  We saw everyone from families, old ladies in wheelchairs, African people, Chinese people, bikers, men in kilts, and cowboys at this festival.  Calgary is a place where subcultures, mainstream culture, and multi-culture seem to converge  in unpredictable ways.  I like the straightforwardness of the people and how hospitable and helpful they are.  A part of me will be sad to leave tomorrow morning.  But in a funny way, I feel that Calgary has prepared me for my adventures in Scotland. I am so grateful to my friends, the land, and to my time here.  I’ll definitely be back!

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