17 September 2010

Moose Jaw Minute #6: The Urban/Rural Jungle

Another week in the transition from city to prairie life…
Dave and I are settling into a routine here in Moose Jaw.  I work from home in my newly set-up office in the second bedroom, listening to Harvards and Hawks (planes, not birds) buzz overhead from time to time, staring out at the steel-grey sky, and waiting for the bird migrations to start (which I hear are amazing).  I wake early, get ready for work, head downstairs to make my cup of Josephine and then back upstairs to get a jump-start on the day.  I am wringing out work like it is my life’s business and am finding that while not being in the Chicago office is lonely, it does mean I am cranking out data analysis like no one else…a good thing, especially at this time in the organization’s life cycle.  Dave wakes, heads to work, lives his Top Gun day, and then returns home to find me…well, still analyzing.  We are enjoying starting and ending each work day with one another and it is a nice change from compartmentalizing our time into two or three hour stretches on Skype every night (a must-have for any long-distance, cross-border relationship that you are attempting to sustain).  We go for walks in the evenings, either through town or Wakamow Valley…the lovely sister park to New York City’s Central Park (ahem) or Chicago’s Millennium Park (ahem, again).  Okay, Wakamow is nowhere close to CP or MP, but whatever, a girl can dream.  All that being said, what it doesn’t have in size, it makes up for in charm with a small river, delicate-but-steep hills that challenge my used-to-flat-road-running-quads, and plenty of places to picnic.
Speaking of the park and our evening walks, one of the largest transitions has been in my relation to space.  I adopted, during my time in the city, the city-woman-walker-approach to making my way through alleys, navigating the El, and ensuring that I wasn’t making myself a target for rummaging and pillaging.  In other words, I notice I don’t look people in the eye, I am on high-alert when walking after the sun goes down (and in Moose Jaw, that means it is DARK), and I tend to approach the safe small stretch of main street in the Jaw with the same attitude I did when dis-embarking the El at the Red Line Wilson stop – jaw clenched, keys in hand, and ready to pounce on anything that approached me.  I’ve had many a conversation with my city-dwelling friends (primarily my feminist posse city-dwelling friends) about how much more comfortable we are in the city versus wide open spaces.  Well, if you want to test your fear-mongering (in)sanity about things that go bump in the night and bushes that have the potential to come alive and drag you underground to become a wormy feast, Moose Jaw is for you.  I noticed my odd behavior (which, by the way, I’m sure by now Moose Javians (Dave just informed me that is how they refer to themselves) have pegged me as the sure-fire “import”) on a run the other day.  I ran along a trail and two small kids were playing in the dirt nearby and, as does every Canadian, they glanced up, smiled broadly, and said “Hello, eh!”  I nearly jumped out of my skin, adopted the Karate Kid pose, aimed my keys at their mud pies, and hissed a quick “hi” before high-tailing it out of there.  Abso-freaking-lutely absurd?  Yes.  For sure.  My point of reference for interacting with strangers, whether they be five or fifty years of age, is a tad skewed for the friendliness of Moose Jaw and the rest of Canada as I slowly transition away from life in the big city.
Ah, but life in the big city does have its pleasures and I was fortunate enough to spend less than 24 hours back in the Second City.  O’Hare, the El, Starbucks on a bustling street corner, cabs, a visit to the office, catching up with friends/co-workers, the buildings, the people, the rush, and the electricity in the air…my kind of town, Chicago is.  I do miss it…a lot.  The missing has been bizarre…most days I don’t think about it as I punch out formulas in Excel, walk with my husband, and think about the next project to tackle in the house – but, when the craving for Chicago hits, it hits hard.  My heart hurts, I get short of breath, and I wonder how I will find ME, as in -- who am I supposed to be here, anyway? -- in this awesome country of Canada.  I know I will and I know it is just a matter of time, but the process sure does have its ups and downs.  As I make my transition back to the Jaw after being back in the city, I realize that there are plusses and minuses in both places and I am choosing to focus on the plusses. 
Oh, and I've had some requests for more pictures...so, here you go!  Enjoy!

Border Crossed!

GIANT Canadian Wheat Sculptures on the way to Moose Jaw

Grain Silos...GIANT!


Wakamow Valley...aka, Moose Jaw's Central Park

Dave...readying the car for Calgary...

Elk!  REAL Elk!  Seriously!  HUGE!

Where's Heather?  Hiking in Banff.

Top of a waterfall.

Gorgeous Banff.

Big Trees


Saskatchewan...Land of the Living Skies

More Living Skies...um, they kind of go on forever out here...

Happy Friday, all...


A Lush Experience said...

These are some fantastic pictures, and it's great to hear you and Dave are so nicely settling in. I definitely envy the space and the sky you have access to! As to your city-dwelling, jaw-clenching ways - you might be happy to learn that the place to which you have moved is more similar than Chicago to the environment that our human ancestors occupied for the majority of our evolutionary history. We have evolved to live in small villages with few people. The idea of the modern city is totally foreign to what it means to be “human”. Therefore, whenever anxiety rears its ugly head at you, I suggest you consider the thought that you're getting in touch with your "true" roots! Maybe it will calm you down? Sorry, but the geeky Anthropologist in me just can't help it sometimes!

chfmiller said...

Those pictures make me want to come visit -- take me to big trees!